Defining the term virtual has to do with defining the presence. Thousand ofyears ago a Roman naturalist called Gaius Plinuis known as "Pliny the elder" expressed one of the earliest interests in perceptual ilusion when he wrote about an artist who had "produced a picture of grapes so dexterously represented that the birds began to fly down to eat from the painted vine". this was the epitom of the virtual world.
More so, Pliny wasn’t the only man to express an interest in the virtual world. A man named Morton Heilig a cinematographer ventured into the exploration of what he called the Sensorama. He envisioned a theatre experience that would stimulate all his audiences’ senses, drawing them in to the stories more effectively.
He went further to build a console in 1960 called the Sensorama that included as stereoscopic display, fans, odor emitters, stereo speakers and a moving chair. This is very similar to the effects in various theme parks that display 3D visual images. He also invented a head mounted television display designed to let a user watch television in 3-D. Users were passive audiences for the films, but many of Heilig’s concepts were bound to find themselves into the Virtual reality field.
Further more, in the 1960s another scientist named Ivan Sutherland envisioned a virtual world. His world was called the ultimate Display". Using this display, a person could look into a virtual world that would appear as real as the physical world the user lived in. This vision guided almost all the developments within the field of virtual reality.
Sutherland’s concept included, a virtual world that appears real to any observer, seen through an HMD. A computer that maintains the world model in rel time. T he ability for the user to manipulate virtual objects in a realistic , intuitive way.
In the age of computing, through various introductions to new technology, the world has come closely to achieving that virtual world. in computing terminologies, this is a genre of online community that often takes the form of a computer based simulated environment, through which users can interact with one another and use and create objects. in layman’s terms, this is the world where the unreal does come to be real, where the unimaginable happens, where dreams come to become our reality.
As a child, I always imagined the future of computing to entail all these things, my thinking though was more realistic, or maybe i gave myself boundaries to what the computing world could and couldnt achieve. I envisioned a world of speed, traveling made more efficient on mere metallic boards, very similar to that of the surf board. i saw a world that didnt depend on the geographical nature of the earth to determine the extent of travel, I saw something near extraodrinary. Today, I see something beyond my wildest dreams, I see a world of impossibilities, I see the human interaction with virtual beings come to be something very acknowledged.
Therefore, the people of the 1960s were not far off on in their predicaments of the future digital computerized world. the world they envisioned has more or less come to pass, lacking only in a few areas that are yet to be studied and prescribed.
From both Heilig and Pliny’s visions, a lot in this new age and era has sufficed. With the underlying idea of the senseroma, it can be said that Heilig would be thought of today as a "mulitmedia specialist". This is so because, many of his ideas from the senseroma have been passed on to today’s more developed cinema movie theatres of 3D motion pictures. Much like the senseroma, the virtual images of today echoe the stereotypic 3D display of images in a wide angle view, supply stereo sound and provide body tilting in some cases, which is very similar to the 1960s.
The virtual world has come to the world’s television screens as the leading movies in the box offices. Some of the movies for example include, the Matrix which is well known for its extraordinary motion picture and Inception which won the award just recently for best movie in 2010 box offices.
The two movies are more nearly the same except for the different background stories. Inception however does have more human interaction for the viewers see themselves as part of the virtual world, making it more real in a sense, to our surroundings.
Another example is the newly introduced virtual boy designed by Peter Molyneux known as Project Natal. A video displaying a boy called Milo and his interactions with the human world is linked just below. As you are told, he is a character that can draw deductions on human character and keep memories of the different personalities he interacts. In this clip, we see him interact with a woman named Claire.
Through the video, we see Milo through a pair of goggles to Claire, she reaches down to get them though it is virtual. Personally, I believe that the goggles were real not until Peter clarified the situation that, that experience, that ability for Milo to play with your senses, for you to connect with him thus far, is the proof of the existence of a virtual world.
This computerized technology is beyond both Pliny, Suntherland and Heilig’s imaginations. They set the pace, lay the founding ground for such existence and it has followed through till present.
The predictions made by the three men were on spot. They envisioned high interactions, where the unreal was in tune with the reality and this came to pass. People now go to cinemas and see movies in 3D. in this kind of scenery, the audience feels as though they are in the movie themselves, like they are part of the casting having their own share of roles to play.
In this setting, what used to be a dream comes to life, everything is so real that one could touch the sky from his sit.
They envisioned a ability of one to take part in telepresence. This is where the user experiences immersion, or the feeling of being inside and part of that world. The user is able to interact with his environment in meaningful ways.
They also envisioned the development of an advanced human- computer interface design. In this case, through the world now, virtual interactions have taken place or been viewed through a portal or window but utilizing a standard high resolution monitor. These interactions can occur with the use of conventional devices like keyboards,mice and trackballs or enhanced 3D interaction devices.
By far, they were on point. However, there were a few glitches in their predictions. A case in point is the Sensorama which considered the sense of smell to be part of the virtual world. Even up to date, this aspect in virtual reality has not been achieved and wont be achieved. The sense of smell is something very delicate much like seeing and hard to maneuver. Neither the movies in 3 D nor the Natal project has been able to reach that apex as to include smell in their virtual realism inventions. We thus conclude that, smell is something beyond our realms and thus still remains out of computerized control.
Whereas the virtual world typically relies on the mental and emotional aspects of engaging content which gives rise to an immersive experience, this was a short coming in the futurists predictions. Most of the futuristic predictions included the physical involvement of the human being. This is in the case of the sensorama that included the sense of touch to simulate the world. Only the Project Natal has been able to lay a finger tip on that prediction and at the bare minimal. The physical involvement of the human body with the virtual world still remains something to ponder and strive to achieve.
Another element the futurists failed to maneuvor was the time issue. Though the time frame can be tampered and altered with in the virtual world as seen in the movies on our televion screens, this concept is still a nail in the leg as computer scientists try to bring time in tune with human realism. From the Natal Project, we see that though Milo is a grown boy, he still cannot understand the changes that come about with the new age. He is stuck in time, he needs to be guided, transfigured inorder to be in tune with our world. While we can neither experience his time settings or changes or feel the effect of the different hours. Therefore the Sensorama had a defect with the concept to do with feeling the effect of certain environment time changes, and so does the technologized world today.
In conclusion, the predictions and efforts made towards the realization of virtual realism have been to a greater extent attained in various fields of work and study.