Virtual Reality: How It Affects Our Lives

Topics: Virtual reality, Second Life, Virtual learning environment Pages: 6 (2073 words) Published: August 16, 2010
Virtual Reality: How it Affects Our Lives.
INF. 103
September 5, 2009

We can find many uses for virtual reality in our lives, and we also find it in many instances that some would not even think of. We can use virtual reality for education, job training, social networking, and even gaming. In this paper I will give examples of each as well as how virtual reality was created, and how long it has actually been around. I will also tell how virtual reality can be detrimental to it users.

Virtual reality was actually first created in the late 1920’s to the early 1930’s. A scientist named Edwin Link developed the first flight simulator which he called the “pilot maker” or the ANT-18 Link Trainer (blue box). (Jeff Beish) In the 1950’s through the 1960’s they began making improvements to the simulators taking them from the basic analog that Link first created to one’s more advanced. The more advanced simulators could resemble more planes; several aircraft companies began producing simulators like the B-36, F86D, and the C-119. The purpose behind creating flight simulators was safety. It would be safer for a pilot to learn to fly a plane on the ground and familiarize oneself with the controls before going in the air.

In 1965 a man named Ivan Sutherland created the first form of virtual reality that most people think of. Sutherland published a document called ‘The Ultimate Display”, where he discussed his ideas to create a portable virtual world by using two tiny television screens one screen for each eye. He designed a head mounted display that was so heavy that it had to be used with ceiling supports. The images were very crude, but yet the equipment was very expensive. The first helmet was neither portable nor accessible to the public, it had to be used in the lab and the average person could not afford it.

Then in 1985 a man named Michael McGreevy, a scientist from NASA/AMES, took Sutherland’s design a step further, if you will. He created a lighter and even cheaper version of the virtual helmet. He used a motorcycle helmet and had it fitted with mini display screens. Sensors were installed to track movement, and linked to very powerful sensitive computers. Research continued with Jaron Lanier, a game programmer, in 1986 created the virtual reality glove. The glove contained sensors that could monitor the movements of your hands. Lanier paired the glove and helmet, and he gave this technology the name “Virtual Reality”.

In education there are several ways to use virtual reality, it can help an autistic child learn, medical students use virtual cadavers, and virtual classrooms. Autistic children have trouble with education, because they cannot be in a regular classroom environment. Most autistic children have a fear of people and physical contact. Programmers have come up with a way for these children to use computers to help them learn. Virtual friends are the way that helps them. The child has a virtual friend to ask questions and wait for responses. The computer generated friend is patient and nonjudgmental. Children with autism fear resentment, judgment, and the feeling of being rushed. They can relate better with the computer than they can with a real person. Medical schools have found ways to cut costs, by allowing students to use virtual cadavers (Adam Cadaver). With Adam medical students can locate organs, bones, and muscle tissue. The program and also have a student diagnose the illness, and do surgery on Adam. This technology is cheaper than having real bodies sent to the school and storage. Also, with Adam if there is a mistake it can be restarted, another advantage is the program can be reused unlike real cadavers. Online classrooms are another form of virtual education; online universities are a prime example of online classrooms. Online education allows for distance learning, like the students who are deployed in the military or their spouses who move around with...

References: http://projects.edte.utwente.n//proo/kommers.htm
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