Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Virtual Reality - H2G2 Style

During a particularly vain moment I googled 'VRBones' to see what the net has to say about me. Looks like QGL is still the main linking spot, which I guess is logical since it was my home for the past 8 years. I did find an old snippet I posted onto the original H2G2 site which I'll replicate here to save it from digital demise:

Virtual Reality: An alternate reality where interactions from the present reality are transferred through to the alternate reality seamlessly.

Although the term has become embedded into society as a phrase defining an immersive computer simulation (Okay, think "The Matrix" if you must), it also can be extended to other concepts.

Consider for a few moments what you do when you are driving. You are sitting in your car and rotating a wheel-like object in front of you and applying pressure to pedals at your feet. Sometimes you might even flick things, pull things, push things, but you do not actually move yourself inside the car. Your interactions through these wheels, levers, pedals and buttons make the world outside your car pass by you at differing rates. Is this a virtual reality? Realising that we DON'T notice this is the heart of what virtual reality is all about. Instead of concentrating on the act of turning the wheel,we seamlessly think of the action as making the car turn in the outside world. (Learner drivers are the obvious exception, and the concentration on the obvious controls in front of them is why it takes a while for them to 'get it'. That and the primal urge of others to honk at anything with an 'L' plate on it)

This immersive behaviour is not only limited to cars and such, as our own minds have been doing it for eons. To pick up a cup we send a signal to our arm to extend and, correlated by our eyes, be guided to the cup's position. Do we notice that we have to tell our arm what to do via electrical pulses? No. It is once again a seamless interaction where we think of the task in alternate reality terms instead of concentrating on the methods to achieve said task.