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Virtual Reality

Updated on September 11, 2015


Over the years, the term virtual reality has most of the time proved difficult to define. Many people interpret “virtual” as something unreal or even fake while “reality” is interpreted to mean representation of the real world. Such myriads of definitions have always resulted into a state of oxymoron. The actual meaning of virtual could be “something that possesses the effect of being something without actually being that thing”. Reality entails something that has the properties of being real. One property of real is that it takes account of a concrete existence.

Therefore, combining the above excerpts of the virtual reality describes it as “without having the capability of concrete existence, having the effect of concrete existence”. For the existence of virtual reality, there must be the utilization of computers. Therefore, for a more standard definition, virtual reality could apparently mean the use of computer technology to create the effect of interactive three dimensional environments which incorporates a sense of spatial space. Spatiality refers to the ability of the object in the environment to incorporate location in three-dimensional perspective relative to one’s position. The incorporation of the third dimension and a spatial space means that this is more of an effect and not an illusion. The primary idea here is to present the correct details and cues to the perceptual and cognitive system so that the brain can interpret the respective cues into objects (real world objects) by the addition of a third dimensional view.

Virtual reality means that the user is fully immersed in a computer generated virtual environment. As one walks around the virtual world, his/her view changes the same way one would expect to change in the real world. Apparently, things change with distance. As one goes further from the given objects the sizes and feel of the respective objects changes. The direction and effects of the sound is also taken into account.

Requirements for a virtual reality

Often, the basic requirement for a virtual reality is that the scene should be rendered from the user’s current point of view as he/she navigates the virtual reality. The degree of frame of which the scene must be rendered is directly dependent on the application. For the application such as the virtual wind tunnel, a minimum frame rate of ten frames per every second is enough to support the sense of spatial presence. While motion at this frame rate might clearly seem discontinuous, the cognitive ability will always interpret the image in form of a three dimensional image. Another requirement is that the interactive objects in the environment must always respond to the appropriate commands after a slightly delay. The ability to tolerate a longer delay solely depends upon the given application.

Features of virtual realities

There are various forms of virtual realities but they share a number of characteristics. For example, they take into account the use of three dimensional images that makes them life sized to the user. Another feature is usually that a virtual environment is often equipped with ability to provide the appropriate responses that imitate the real world environment as the person explores their environment. However, it might look normal where various technicalities may arise some certain delays between the person’s action and the system’s response which may in turn disrupt their experience. They also incorporate a multi-sensory experience. Multi-sensory experience involves the incorporation of various sensory stimuli e.g. images, sound, and even videos that form part of the most virtual reality environments. Recent developments have also included pressure feed-back, touch that is made possible through devices such as “data-glove” for increased and more enhanced experience.


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    • TimArends profile image

      Timothy Arends 2 years ago from Chicago Region

      Virtual reality systems, as they become more advanced, are going to prove to be awesome, and in fact they already are!