As computer-processing power increases and even more realistic graphics are developed, the simulated environments produced by virtual reality systems will become even more believable than some already are.
I’ve always believed that, besides war, gaming (more generally – the entertainment industry) brings about the most innovative technological developments. In fact, the technology developed from military uses of virtual reality is finding application in several walks of life. For example:
- Medical students are now operating on virtual patients rather than dissecting real, organic-smelling people
- Architects are taking people on virtual tours of their dream home before finalising the design
- I won’t even mention that heights that virtual reality gaming has reached
- Business people are attending conferences and social events without having to board a plane
- Chat rooms today mean much more than just email notice boards, which were all the rage a few years back
- In this day and age consumers are even able to shop in 3D stores from the comfort of their armchair or beanbag
Twenty years ago few imagined that personal computers would soon be found in almost every home, classroom and office. In twenty years time, virtual reality may be just as central to our lives. Immersing ourselves in a virtual environment of our choice may become as commonplace as turning on the old television.
I’ve always had an interest in virtual reality. I wanted to know more about it. So I searched the interwebs to see what’s currently available on the market. Here are the cheapest and most expensive (i.e. most advanced) stuffs I came across:
At the cutting edge of vitual reality – the VisionDome is a kind of half egg-shell that up to 45 people can sit/stand in and watch some pretty intense television, or lose themselves in some very life-like games.
At 5-meters in diameter, the V5 (the latest in the VisionDome family) provides a massive screen area and comfortable seating to give larger audiences a truly immersive and incredible experience.
It boasts a maximum resolution of 2048×1536 mega pixels, has 6 projector or lens options, and has a maximum output of 8000 ANSI Lumens. You would think that no one can live at that speed, which is why it sells for around
$345 500 (roughly R2 764 000).
3D GLASSES: What all the cool geeks are wearing
3D glasses possibly lie more within a South African’s budget. In the past decade, virtual reality glasses have improved in quality and become much lighter and cheaper thanks to the advancement of virtual reality technology and software.
Wireless options allow you to roam the room with your headset on, and almost all units plug into computers, DVDs and TVs. The option for a Stereo 3D input is also now available with Apple’s latest in the line of Intel Xenon driven processors.
Change the way you see the world… and look pretty stylish too
Stereo 3D is just one step into the world of virtual reality. When connected to a video source with the correct software, amazing entertainment and good times in your living room are to be had by all.
As Fate would have it, it is estimated that this market will probably first be driven by adult entertainment (i.e. porn), then enhanced video games, then the major film industry.
Here’s a pair of 3D specs that I thought sounded rather appealing (exerpt taken from www.edimentional .com):
The E-DTM 3-D glasses instantly convert virtually all of your existing PC video game titles into true 3D. That means a real sense of depth and distance as you’re taking aim at the enemy battalion approaching, trying to find the apex of the next turn, or coming in for a carrier landing in your F-14. It’s why so many customers report improved game play performance when using our glasses in addition to stunning scenery and visuals
Note for interested buyers:
When researching a good pair of 3D goggles, make sure you know the difference between goggles that only enlarge a TV image and ones that actually provide a true 3D view. While more expensive models incorporate 3D technology, the basic models only enhance the viewing area to the size of a super-large television screen.
•Next time we will take a look at stereoscopic displays and haptics (force feedback devices). These are those appendages such as the cyber-glove, that take one’s virtual experience that much closer to reality.
See also: The reality of the virtual part II