October 1st, 1993
The media’s confidence that virtual reality has already arrived is a little premature (they seem to believe that a set of videogame goggles and gloves is all that is needed). But as recent experience at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Chicago has shown, the technology still needs a good deal of work.
In pursuit of a practical virtual reality system, researchers at EVL had to develop sophisticated software applications and real-time networks to link advanced high-speed computers with a variety of high-tech peripherals (such as sound synthesizers and location trackers). In so doing, they had to solve technical problems that had limited the usefulness of such systems.
The benefits make the development worth the effort. When perfected virtual reality systems may enhance how people work and play, contriving comfortable cybernetic environments that enliven and accelerate education and scientific modeling, in addition to devising new forms of recreation. However, VR is not child’s play, as is shown by the Chicago laboratory’s struggle to get the discrete parts of such systems to function flawlessly together in real time.
DeFant, T.A., Sandin, D., Cruz-Neira, C., A ‘Room’ with a ‘View’, IEEE Spectrum, pp. 30-33, October 1st, 1993.