It all started with a fish tank. It was the 1990s, while I was in grad school working on a project for University of Michigan’s Advanced Technology Lab in their EE department. Someone at another university had aimed a webcam at the office fish tank and published the feed on the early web. You could hit the refresh button every 30 seconds on primitive browsers like HotMetal to see if…
Virtual reality (VR) typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user’s physical presence in this environment. VR has been defined as “…a realistic and immersive simulation of a three-dimensional environment, created using interactive software and hardware, and experienced or controlled by movement of the body” or as an “immersive, interactive experience generated by a computer”.
A person using virtual reality equipment is typically able to “look around” the artificial world, move about in it and interact with features or items that are depicted on a screen or in goggles. Most 2016-era virtual realities are displayed either on a computer monitor, a projector screen, or with a virtual reality headset (also called head-mounted display or HMD). HMDs typically take the form of head-mounted goggles with a screen in front of the eyes. Programs may include audio and sounds through speakers or headphones.
Advanced haptic systems in the 2010s may include tactile information, generally known as force feedback in medical, video gaming and military training applications. Some VR systems used in video games can transmit vibrations and other sensations to the user via the game controller. Virtual reality also refers to remote communication environments which provide a virtual presence of users with through telepresence and telexistence or the use of a virtual artifact (VA). The immersive environment can be similar to the real world in order to create a lifelike experience or it can differ significantly from reality where gamers can use fictional powers.