Presently there are numerous different types of VR systems, but most can
be classified into one of the following three categories; Desktop VR,
Video Mapping VR, and Immersive VR.
(Window on a World)
VR is when a computer user views a virtual environment through one
or more computer screens. A user can then interact with that environment,
but is not immersed in it. All of the mastheads on this website are
from Desktop VR environments.
Mapping VR uses cameras to project an image of the user into the computer
program, thus creating a 2D computer character. Although fully immersed
in the environment, it is difficult to interact with the user’s
VR uses a HMD to project video directly in front of the user’s
eyes, plays audio directly into the user’s ears, and can track
the whereabouts of the user’s head. Then a dataglove (or datasuit)
is used to track movements of the user’s body and then duplicate
them in the virtual environment. When the user cannot distinguish
between what is real and what is not, then immersive VR has succeeded.
run the most basic VR system one must have the following:
one or more powerful computers
• sensors (or input devices)
• display arrangements
• virtual environment rendering software
computer must be powerful enough to render three-dimensional images in
real-time or the experience will not be a complete one.
using various sensors and input devices users can use their own movement
to interact with the virtual environment. Each time the sensor detects
a change, the entire computer system (the reality engine) generates
a new set of graphics, appropriate to that change. For a system to
be recognizably ‘real’ the computer must be able to ‘sample’
the sensors about sixty times per second. This gives real-time changes
(apparently instantaneous, but really with the shortest time lag possible).
and Judkins 1992)
this fast do not exist at the present time, but with the power of computers
doubling every 18 months, it may be possible in the near future. (Stevens
site was published for Communication Studies 380 at the University of
Calgary, March 26, 2004