Collision Prevention w/ GIS / Virtual
Reality Presentation Slides / Metropolis
Ghost Town Documentary / Laboratory
Information Management System / Buckminster
Fuller Web Site / Record Database
The term “virtual reality” describes a wide variety of
techniques and devices.
Virtual reality is used to:
- Simulate an artificial environment.
- Augment the existing reality.
- Accomplish some combination of the two.
Who Uses It?
Virtual reality devices and techniques have been indispensable
in virtually every field, including:
- Scientific research
- Urban planning
- Resource extraction
Example - Medical
Simulation of medical procedures has allowed surgeons valuable
practice and training experience.
Architects, engineers, & urban planners can use virtual
reality to examine 3D blueprints, prototype designs, and sometimes
"walk through" virtual buildings and structures before they are
built in real life.
Example – Networked
Communications & Virtual Worlds
Teleimmersion & virtual worlds, as well as personal “avatars,”
have become commonplace as new forms of communication and
At the heart of virtual reality is the opportunity to interact
with an “artificial” environment (“simulated reality”), usually
Most current forms of VR devices do this by augmenting the
- Motion tracking
- Haptic (tactile) technology
- Omnidirectional treadmills
In The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality, professor
Michael Heim categorizes seven distinct features of VR:
- Full-body immersion
- Network communication
Today, “virtual reality” is mostly associated with head
mounted displays (HMDs) and data periphery (e.g., gloves, remote
manipulator handles, body suits, etc.).
Also, video game technology and virtual worlds are largely
responsible for shaping some of the more academic and
professional approaches to the use of VR in developing devices
and methods for various modeling purposes.
A “virtual artifact” (VA) designates an object, open to
manipulation through VR devices , that exists within a virtual
space (e.g., user interfaces, three-dimensional blueprints,
wireframe models, etc.).
Example of Head Mounted
The term “virtual reality” is attributed to director and
playwright Antonin Artaud, in The Theatre and Its Double (1938).
In the 1950s, cinematographer Morton Heilig wrote about an
“Experience Theatre,” & in the ‘60s patented the Sensorama,
a mechanical device displaying short films combined with sight,
smell, touch, and sound augmentation.
In 1966, the first flight simulator was introduced
In 1968, Ivan Sutherland & Bob Sproull created the first
true augmented reality HMD system.
During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, VR pioneer Jaron Lanier,
who founded the Virtual Programming Languages company,
popularized the emerging field of virtual reality. It was during
this time that computational power was beginning to allow much
greater realism in VR capabilities.
In 1994, Marc Pesce co-developed the Virtual Reality Markup
language (VRML), which has been standardized as a World Wide Web
Virtual reality is an unrecognized part of almost every
industrial field. As Jaron Lanier has pointed out in interviews,
you cannot buy a car today that wasn’t partially developed
through some form of virtual reality.
Most major architectural projects, mining operations,
aerospace projects, and molecular research projects are realized
through virtual reality displays, modeling, and simulations.
The future is only limited by the imagination and the
advancement of computational power.
Heim, Michael. The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality. Oxford:
University Press, 1993.
Rheingold, Howard. Virtual Reality: The Revolutionary
Technology of Computer-Generated Artificial Worlds—and How it
Promises to Transform Society. New York: Touchstone, 1991.
Sirius, R.U. True Mutations: Interviews on the Edge of
Science, Technology, and Consciousness. Oakland: Pollinator,