The term Virtual Reality (VR) is used by many different people with many meanings. There are some people to whom VR is a specific collection of technologies, that is a Head Mounted Display, Glove Input Device and Audio. Some other people stretch the term to include conventional books, movies or pure fantasy and imagination. However, for purposes of this research, we restrict VR to computer mediated systems. We would define Virtual Reality as a way for humans to visualize, manipulate and interact with computers and extremely complex data.
The visualization part refers to the computer generating visual, auditory or other sensual outputs to the user of a world within the computer. This world may be a CAD model, a scientific simulation, or a view into a database. The user can interact with the world and directly manipulate objects within the world. Some worlds are animated by other processes, perhaps physical simulations, or simple animation scripts. Interaction with the virtual world, at least with near real time control of the viewpoint, is a critical test for a 'virtual reality'.
Some people object to the term "Virtual Reality", saying it is an oxymoron. Other terms that have been used are Synthetic Environments, Cyberspace, Artificial Reality, Simulator Technology, etc. VR is the most common and sexiest. It has caught the attention of the media.
Types of VR Systems
A major distinction of VR systems is the mode with which they interface to the user. We would describe some of the common modes used in VR systems.
Window on World Systems (WoW)
Some systems use a conventional computer monitor to display the visual world. This sometimes called Desktop VR or a Window on a World (WoW). This concept traces its lineage back through the entire history of computer graphics. In 1965, Ivan Sutherland laid out a research program for computer graphics in a paper called "The Ultimate Display" that has driven the field for the past nearly thirty years.
"One must look at a display screen," he said, "as a window through which one beholds a virtual world. The challenge to computer graphics is to make the picture in the window look real, sound real and the objects act real."
A variation of the WoW approach merges a video input of the user's silhouette with a 2D-computer graphic. The user watches a monitor that...
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...irplane that the inspector can navigate through via voice commands to mark a region of the airplane that is in need of service. Once identified, the application tags the area for transmission to the maintenance database and initiates the proper form for the inspector to fill out. The form is completed and then transmitted to the same maintenance database. When the inspector has identified all of the problems with a particular region, voice navigation is used to continue to other areas of the aircraft. The inspector is not required to take any information about the aircraft, previous defect records, clipboards, paper, etc. with them, everything required to perform the inspection is on-line and displayed in a manageable fashion in real time during the inspection. When the inspector completes the inspection, no further input is required. The inspector is not required to take notes and then pass them off to someone else to decipher and input to the system. The information is already in the maintenance database and ready for verification, planning, and scheduling.
The timesaving realized from start to finish of that inspection is 30-50% depending on the inspector and the aircraft.
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