Abstract The contemporary world is greatly characterized with the usage of highly developed technology, tools, gadgets, and appliances. One just needs to look around him to see the truth to this statement. Be it in business, education, travel, medical, practically everything and anything, one uses technology to conduct daily living. These technologies underwent several processes and upgrades to be what they are today. Nonetheless, each technology still undergoes enhancements that would help individuals in going about their daily lives.
The initial process with which technology evolved into what it is today was first conceptualized, then improved to what man utilizes today. A concrete example of this would be the television which is a common appliance in today’s world. Before the television became to what it is today (digital), it was first conceptualized, designed, produced, tested, developed and enhanced. As these things were first conceptualized, hence, the term “virtual reality” was coined. It is, therefore, a usual question whether the initial process was real considering that it was merely a concept, a virtual reality.
It is in line with the above that the primordial purpose of this paper is to scrutinize whether virtual reality is indeed real or just a figment of man’s imagination. VIRTUAL REALITY 3 Virtual Reality: Is It Real? Today’s technology has been conceptualized in the not so distant past and has been LABELLED AS VIRTUAL REALITY. WITH THE OBJECTIVE TO UTILIZE REALITIES AND THINGS IN ORDER TO HELP MAN IN his daily living, several researches conducted studies and experimentations in order to produce materials that will be able to make life a lot easier to the end users of the same.
If one has an intensive scrutiny of the experiences any person would have today, technology is always used and is in great demand. Technology is used in business, in education, in medical, in warfare – practically in anything and everything. These became realities as they were first conceptualized prior to the production of the gadgets and things that man uses today. From conceptualization, experiments were conducted to ensure that these products would eventually meet its purpose and would ultimately be of benefit to the users of the same. Safety and costs have been one of the primordial considerations.
This raises the question that many would query. At the stage of conceptualization (virtual reality), would one consider these concepts as real or not? It is the objective of this paper to focus on this. At the end of this paper, the reader will be able to: 1) understand what virtual reality is; 2) see a short history of the development of virtual reality; 3) realize the usage and advantages of the end-products of virtual reality; 4) comprehend whether virtual reality is real or not. The meanings of Virtual Reality and Reality Many have always asked, “What is virtual reality? What is reality? “.
Oxford Dictionary (online publication, 2010) defines virtual reality as “almost or nearly as described, but not VIRTUAL REALITY 4 completely or according to strict definition”. Late Middle English defines it as “possessing certain virtues”. The word virtual comes from the Latin word “virtue, virtuosus”. The etymology of the word reality comes from the Latin word “realis” which means “relating to things”. Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them”.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia defines virtual reality as “computer-generated environment and within which people can interact… it can immerse people in an environment that would normally be unavailable due to cost, safety, or perception restrictions”. D. Petechuk stated that virtual reality “combine state-of-the-art imaging with computer technology to allow users to experience a three-dimensional simulated environment”. Ilkka Maunu Niiniluoto, in his article “Virtual worlds, fiction and reality” has referred to Michael Heim in giving meaning to the word, virtual reality.
“In his book Virtual realism (1998), Michael Heim states that virtual reality is a ‘technology’ or ‘an emerged field of applied science’. ” John C. Briggs, on the other hand, in his article, “The Promise of Virtual Reality”, wrote, “Virtual reality can be defined as a three-dimensional, computer-generated simulation in which one can navigate around, interact with, and be immersed in another environment… Virtual reality provides a reality that mimics our everyday one’. ” What would virtual reality mean to ordinary people? When one hears this word, people would usually associate it as something that has to do with computers.
While others would think that it is a dream world where anything and everything is possible to happen, there are also others who would think that virtual reality is a conception concocted not only by the mind but also by the very person who has thought of the concept concerned. There would also be a group VIRTUAL REALITY 5 who would think that virtual reality is the stepping stone through which different gadgets currently used have gone through: conceptualized, tested, revised and produced. A Short History of the Evolution of Virtual Reality This section will focus on the discourse of D. Petechuk entitled, “Virtual Reality”. Petechuk stated that the concept of virtual reality would date back to World War II.
The pilots who were then training for their combat missions needed training for the mission that they had. There was a need for flight simulators; however, the technology then was not sufficient. The trainees had only basic simulation. Through the years, technology advanced and so did virtual reality. Ivan Sutherland, according to Petechuk, “conducted experiments with the first head- mounted three-dimensional displays… the user was able to view a computer-generated three- dimensional cube floating in space and, by moving his or her head, inspect various aspects of the cube and determine its dimensions”.
This was in 1966. By 1970, “Sutherland built the first full functional head-mounted display unit”. There were many big industries who also ventured into the development of virtual reality. One of them was General Electric Corporation that built one of the first computerized flight simulators in 1972. In 1975, Thomas Furness III “developed the prototype Visually Couple Airborne Systems Simulator” whereby the pilots had “an abstract view of flying conditions instead of a reality- based image… pilots became totally immersed in the graphic representation”.
VIRTUAL REALITY 6 Mary Alice Ball, in her book review, “Virtual Worlds, Real Challenges: Papers from SRI’s 1991 Conference on Virtual Reality, wrote: “Virtual reality is still in its infancy, and researchers are intent on developing and refining new and better tools. ” Mary Ball further wrote that “virtual reality has the potential to take us beyond our physical limitations and guide us to new insights… Virtual reality uses technology to create human-machine interfaces that permit control of multiple peripheral devices with relative ease”.
Through the years after this, big investments were poured into the research as to how virtual reality could produce things that would be used daily. As there are a lot of advantages and uses of the things produced through virtual reality, focus and attention were given for the development of virtual reality to what it is today. This would be discussed in depth in the following section. The Applications of Virtual Reality As stated earlier, the contemporary world is characterized with a lot of technologies that have been developed through the many years. When one looks around, it is very evident that varied products of virtual reality have been created that ultimately helps any one in conducting
his daily business in live. Many of these technologies have gone through the process of being conceptualized, tested, revised, and enhanced. The many things man uses today went through a long process of evolution and are still undergoing improvements so that the maximum usage of the same would be attained. These products did not just come out of thin air. The process through which they have been developed has been long and tedious. VIRTUAL REALITY 7 Beth Stackpole in her article, Virtual Reality Gets Real, stated that “the military’s use of virtual reality touches training, product development and command and control platforms”.
She further reiterates that “virtual reality technology and simulators are actively used to train military personnel on how to pilot aircraft or handle weaponry”. Patrick Mays in his article entitled, Making Virtual Reality Real”, “Creating VR models takes no longer than any other computer modeling: Most of the massing of a large project can be completed in only a few days”. John Briggs in his article entitled, “The Promise of Virtual Reality”, discusses at length the varied applications of virtual reality. It must be noted, however, that this article was written in 1996.
He writes that “technology’s present state of advancement has been overstated. Coverage in numerous magazines and newspaper articles, on TV shows, and even in TV ads suggests that virtual reality is now fully developed. Unfortunately, this is not true… Virtual reality is with us now in a very early and rudimentary form”. Virtual reality is greatly used in businesses today. Many companies are able to create visualizations of the stock market. Currently, this is now being conducted in many companies, most specially the big ones. “
A stock broker or analyst can quickly see patterns for a market sector as a whole, as well as the activity of specific stocks… and can bring in-depth information to the screen and give the broker an opportunity to rapidly buy or sell a stock”. Virtual reality has also played a great role in empowering people with disabilities. In his article, Briggs reported that virtual reality is used to “confirm the accessibility of buildings for people with disabilities”. It is also used in teaching students how to use a wheelchair and training VIRTUAL REALITY 8 people who are intellectually compromised on how to get from one point to another using different form of transportation.
In the same article, Briggs has touched on how virtual reality may be used in education and training whereby the trainees walk through a virtual factory “and learn about health hazards – a more engaging experience than reading a manual or attending a lecture”. Likewise, through virtual reality astronomy students will be able to explore galaxies and study their properties. English students will be able to be on stage where Shakespearean plays are being presented. History students will be able to go to different historical events and would have the possibility of participating in them.
These are examples of what Briggs thought on how virtual reality will affect and effect the seemingly uneventful past life of man. Briggs is therefore simply reiterating the simple fact that virtual reality is the biggest factor that will be utilized by any person as virtual reality will make things a lot easier for man to conduct his daily businesses. As virtual reality is constantly evolving, it will spice up man’s life, man’s living and his mere existence.
As different facets of life will ultimately be immensely influenced by virtual reality, it goes without saying that virtual reality will continue to develop and be made user friendly to its end users – man himself. The constant enhancements will proceed so that virtual reality and the products it produces will be of much better utility for all to avail of. Conclusion Based on the above discussion, one would clearly see that virtual reality has produced numerous technologies currently used in daily living. These have given any one for that matter a choice to make life easier or not. However, these things were not produced out of thin air, so to VIRTUAL REALITY 9 speak.
There have been a lot of processes that were implemented to have the technologies that we have today. Based on what is existing, these technologies were conceptualized, altered, refined, improved, and enhanced. The fact remains that they have all been based on existing realities. Concretely speaking, before man landed on the moon in 1969, there were a lot of processes that occurred. The astronauts did not just land there per se. There were a lot of trainings conducted and one of them was the effect of weightlessness for a long period of time.
Creating this atmosphere was first conceptualized and the atmosphere to produce the same scenario as it would appear on the moon itself was created. The garment they wore, the numerous pieces of equipment they used were first conceptualized, produced, tested, and refined to ensure the safety of the astronauts and to lessen the effects of many factors. These all started with virtual reality. Likewise, another example one may look at is the robots used in highly advanced countries where the robot detonates or make safe explosives that may cause harm or danger. This was also conceptualized at the beginning, produced, tested and refined to ensure its effectivity in pursuing the purpose for which it was built.
What is being simply emphasized is the fact that virtual reality is based on what exists and it is not a figment of one’s imagination. As such, it is real. The basis of virtual reality is reality itself. In Argumentative Logic, the argumentation would be: Virtual Reality is based on reality. Reality is what exists; what is reality. Therefore, Virtual Reality is reality; it is real. VIRTUAL REALITY 10 References: Ball, M. A. (1993, June). Virtual Worlds, Real Challenges: Papers from SRI’s 1991 Conference on Virtual Reality. Information Technology and Libraries, 12(2), 291. Briggs, J. C. (1996, September).
The Promise of Virtual Reality. The Futurist, 30(5), 13. Mays, P. (1998, October). Making virtual reality real. Architecture, 87(10), 162. Niiniluoto, I. M. (2012). Virtual worlds, fiction, and reality/Mundos virtuales, ficcion y realidad. Discusiones Filosoficas, 13(21), 13. Petechuk, D. (2004). Virtual Reality. In K. L. Lerner & B. W. Lerner (Eds. ), The Gale Encyclopedia of Science (3rd ed. , Vol. 6, pp. 4225-4229). Detroit: Gale. Virtual Reality Gets Real. (2008, January 7). Design News, 63(1), 85. Virtual Reality. (2013). In The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™. New York: Columbia University Press.