Technology

The Emergence And Significance Of Virtual Reality

Ina Marwaha elucidates the emerging concept of ‘virtual reality’ and points out the methods for the implementation of the same as have been adopted.
She also elucidates the development of the phenomenon, along with giving an account of the relevance of the concept in various sectors as military, medicine etc.

ABOUT VIRTUAL REALITY

“Virtual reality is a self-created form of chosen reality. Therefore it exists.”

– Joan Lowery Nixon

The roots of virtual reality come from the 1950’s where science fiction created Pygmalion spectacles by Stanley G Weinbaum. It depicted a virtual reality system by means of a short story, with holograms and experiences including smell and touch. Although originating from the mid 1950’s, this is the best time for the development and scope of the virtual reality (VR).

Earlier being limited to 3D imaging and used mostly for education and training, the virtual reality can be used for entertainment and recreation purposes where every individual can benefit from the technology , most commonly known as immersive multimedia or computer-simulated life. Virtual reality essentially escapes us from our real world and transports us to a whole new world with endless possibilities. It helps us elude in a whole new world where we believe what we see. Be it a game, video or an application it helps the user to be there to experience it. Being the character you always wanted, being in a place which is miles away or in a fantasy world, just some of the endless possibilities of what we can extract out of this technology.
With most of the people being heavily dependent on their smartphones for all their activities, this could be easily a huge advancement which can be incorporated in the mobile phones. The big touchscreens of the phones are a great advantage for the VR.

EVOLUTION OF VIRTUAL REALITY

Virtual reality came into being in 1950 when Morton H Eilig built a single user console called ‘sensorama’ which enabled the user to watch television in a three dimensional view. Sensorama basically included a stereoscopic display with fans, emitter and a moving chair.
In 1961 Philco corporation developed HMD (Head Mounted Display). HMD basically had a video screen, a tracking system and a closed camera system.HMD was used in helicopters to see in dim light.
In 1977 MIT created Aspen Movie App which was a virtual simulation Of Aspen, Colorado.

Computer Scientist Michael McGreevy began to experiment with VR technology in 1984, as a way to advance human-computer interface (HCI) designs.
Presently all the top companies are competing with each other for providing better virtuality, such as, Google with its cardboard , Samsung with gear VR and Sony taking over Oculus.

USES OF VIRTUAL REALITY

The utility of ‘virtual reality’ is significant in the given fields :

a) Art : Virtual Reality has advanced technology to such an extent that one can visit museums virtually. Recently, exhibition on virtual reality was conducted by Guggenheim and other museums.

b) Business : Most of the companies have adopted virtual reality for visualization of their stocks. Even software engineers are considering the benefits of creating DataSpaces.
In some time, the people will be able to surf on the internet in a three-dimensional manner using Virtual Reality Modeling Language.

c) Architecture : Virtual Reality allows to build a prototype of a building which helps the architect and the client in better implementation of the project, so as to avoid future overheads.

d) Education and training : Virtual reality is already being applied in the field of education and training. Many courses are now offering VR like anatomy and meteorological studies. Even surgery simulations are being offered to the medical students.

e) Entertainment : Three dimensional games are being developed for children. In the coming years, the kids will be able to play with the characters they dream about; there will be virtual interaction among them.

f) Engineering : Virtual reality has been used earlier to design and test aircrafts. The work is under progress to make even the manufacturing and repair of the aircrafts simulated so as to make the process more immersive for the co-workers.

g) Medicine : Virtual reality is in initial stages when it comes to its implementation in the field of medicine. Virtual reality is being used by University of North Carolina for studying the docking of molecules as well as to study the effect of X-Rays on cancer patients before treatment. In future, many companies will work to produce ‘virtual bodies’ to enhance medical training. Virtual reality will help the doctors to practice before the surgery. Even the patient can actively participate in his surgery using the virtual reality. The concept healing will be enhanced by providing the suitable environment to the patient anywhere using the concept of virtual reality.

h) Military : The first application of virtual reality was to test a military aircraft.
Having come a long way, virtual reality is nowadays used for simulation of ships, tanks and infantry maneuvers. In future, simulation will create a niche in every aspect of warfare.

i) Marketing : Many companies have started using virtual reality as their new marketing agenda. Manufacturing companies have started sharing their production areas virtually with their customers. They have started providing virtual demos of their products to the customers.

FUTURE PERSPECTIVE OF VIRTUAL REALITY

“What is real? How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can hear, what you can smell, taste and feel, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

– Morpheus (The Matrix)

The main focus of virtual reality in future is to bring the signals interpreted by the brain to reality. The main drawback of virtual reality is its cost. So another future perspective will be to make the concept of virtual reality affordable for more number of people so that they can marvel and enjoy the technological advancement. In the medical field, we can expect things like virtual bodies for practicing and virtual rehabilitation for the patients. There is a huge scope of virtual reality in religion, education as well as entertainment. Virtual reality will also help the military in developing warfare tactics. By 2030, the technology is estimated to be advanced to the matrix level and still being controlled by the human brain.

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