Virtual Reality: Humanities Stepping Stone or Downfall?

Our Scholarship winner "Cindy Phan" has expressed her thoughts on Virtual Reality and how it can change the way we live.

April 7, 2022
4 mins read
Last Updated May 16, 2022

Virtual Reality: Humanities Stepping Stone or Downfall?

The conception behind a false realm, a virtual world where you can do what feels like almost anything, is fascinating and also controversial at the same time. Where do people want to go with these machines? Will there be negative consequences from this virtual reality? These questions have been considered by engineering teams and design teams alike.

Taking from real-life observations, there have been an overwhelming amount of positive outcomes from the creation and improvement of virtual reality machinery. Virtual reality programs assist people in all sorts of work. From entertainment gaming to brain surgery, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Men and women from the navy, army and marines find themselves using V.R. machines.

Virtual reality is defined one way as “a three-dimensional computer-generated world, where users are fully immersed and able to explore their surroundings. The users interact with the virtual reality environment with the assistance of goggles, helmet, gloves, or even omnidirectional treadmills to increase their experience”.

One of the greatest benefits of V.R. is that it enables users to take models of comprehension, build newer, larger models of information networks, and construct those models of comprehension. These newer models stem from replacing the real world with a virtual world to allow users to interact, test, improve, and accelerate projects. When inside of a virtual realm, the connection to the content at hand is very self-focused, strong, and prevalent.

Defining The Problem

Virtual reality is extremely beneficial as there are a wide variety of uses such as implementing architecture, providing education, improving medicine, and providing entertainment. Society as whole benefits widely by gaining additional resources for building, testing, and creating projects inside of a virtual world created for their needs. The problem is that there is still much improvement to be made in order to reach even higher levels of usefulness. The progress that has been made is already astonishing, things that people would never believe possible. Which is why enhancing virtual reality and taking it seriously matters. These machines help surgeons, engineers, police force, educators, and people as a whole.

There are issues as to how creating content will be handled. Such as taking “visual, auditory, or haptic” approaches. One physical issue with virtual reality use comes in the form of motion sickness. This sickness is termed as “cybersickness”. This happens when using goggles or headsets in the virtual world causes nausea, headaches or similar. Another challenge virtual reality programmers face is creating an augmented reality that is just an enhancement of virtual reality, so that the user can experience real-world visuals instead of simply computer-generated images.

Improving upon resolutions, frame rate processing, and how the user actually perceives the alternate world are the main things that are constantly focused upon when looking to improve virtual reality headsets. But this can come from both ends of the spectrum of user and creator. The user typically needs to have a machine, computer, laptop, or gaming device, that can handle these processing rates, frame requirements, and computer graphics. This also brings in the issue of the real cost of owning a virtual reality setup. Not only do you need a working computer, you need wifi, electricity, and the virtual reality headset goggles, controllers, and sensors themselves.

What Has Been Done

There was a large lack of expansion upon V.R. itself through the 1990’s decade. Virtual reality was not trendy nor was it well defined as a tool. There was then an increase in recognition of the nature of multimedia and its uses for virtual reality development. There then was this want and need to “understand” this virtual realm.

Positive outlooks and reinforcements came from testing and experimenting with programming systems to use with virtual reality. Benjamin notes that there was an issue involving the amount of increasing tendency to create more “virtual realities” without the amount of researchers actively involved in virtual reality to make these ideas come to life.

Continuing on throughout the next decade, in the mid-2000s, virtual reality became a large technological tool, widening an array of uses and theoretical trends which digital technology was discussed about . Currently, there are several perspectives on this idea of a “false” or “created” reality. Many people see this technology as limited and something one can only get so far with.

Others believe there are unforeseen mass media uses and virtual reality technologies that will be uncovered in the upcoming decades and technological advances as a whole. Some users even admit to feeling a suspension of disbelief or fully body immersive experience.

Current State

A few features that are known as basic elements of virtual reality include the virtual environment, virtual presence, sensory feedback, and interactivity. The virtual environment is determined by the objects programmed into this virtual realm as content, which is also perceived by the user through the senses. The presence is the physical and mental presence the user experiences. Sensory feedback involves the user getting tracked in the virtual environment and results in sensory feedback being experienced.

Finally, interactivity comes from the environment interacting with the user, which shows views from different locations to allow the user to change perspectives that shift along with the user. There is currently interest in the expansion of V.R. from technologists, theorists, finance, and entertainment industries.

What Needs To Be Done

Cyberspace itself will continue to be developed and must constantly be reconsidered. Creating a whole new world, a whole separate reality, is not a simple task. This involves thinking in terms of physical, cognitive, and digital spaces.

Our future and society will all be affected by these advances in technologies and implementations in the everyday workplace. Access to these machines and technologies are in question. There is known unequal access to not just computer technology, but to internet infrastructures across the globe.

The World Summit on the Informational Society quotes, “We are also fully aware that the benefits of the information technology revolution are today unevenly distributed between the developed and developing countries and within societies. We are fully committed to turning this digital divide into a digital opportunity for all”.

Overcoming this lack of equality requires good intention and a positive outlook. “The vision of early cyberneticians and VR technologists and theorists is of an improved society, expanded intellect and ultimately control over reality for all human beings.

Recap

Visual, auditory, haptic representations of our world are created through technology. There are non-immersive, sensory immersive, and neural direct forms of these representations. Virtual reality is extremely beneficial as there are a wide variety of uses such as architecture, education, and medicine.

Outside of this, there are many video games that have and will be implemented into virtual reality so you can fully immerse yourself and feel as if you are inside the game. Society benefits by gaining more resources on building, testing, and creating projects inside of the virtual realm.

Once virtual reality also reaches even higher improvements and build prices begin to drop, you will find all populations affected. As it reaches its way into the workplace and homes, people worldwide will be able to delve into the virtual world.

My Personal Opinion

A reality within reality blows my mind. How realistic you can make a video game look and feel. The vibration of the controller in your hand when you interact with something. Cars whizzing by on a race-track meant to be sped on. How beautiful the skyline can look when you’re looking towards a bedroom wall. The technological advances we have made as a community is so inspirational, and all I want is to learn the methods and tools that are used to create such fascinations.

How can we take something great and make it greater? So many ideas and projects we have developed to answer that question. I firmly believe virtual reality is one of the human race’s greatest accomplishments; I believe there is a reason it is one of the National Academy of Engineering’s “greatest challenges”.

As I have previously mentioned, a passion for designing and creating came to me just as the appreciation for life did. Naturally. I have been playing video games since I was nine years old, foraging for loot in “Runescape”, waddling around as a virtual penguin in “Club Penguin”; fast forward thirteen years later, years of computer practice involving applications such as Excel, SolidWorks, MATLAB, and Eclipse have been added to my belt.

After playing with all these tools and learning to have fun with them at the same time, when I see my brother playing virtual reality, completely unaware of his real-life duties, worries, or etc, I am at peace. Because he is at peace. I hear him, through my walls, laughing and I can tell he is smiling when he is talking to his friends through voice chat. I want to bring that type of peace to strangers worldwide. I do not need a bond. I just want peace of mind.

 

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