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All about VIRTUAL REALITY

Back after a looooooooong time !
Missed all my readers. Final year of college sucks !Anyway i will not waste much of your time in the chitter chatter and jump right inside the battlefield with something which you've experienced every day. Its a generation old topic, thought you should know the finest details of it. So here it is :
 


VIRTUAL REALITY

We are surrounded by technologies of all kinds. Internet and mobile are our portal to a world which is made up of never ending patters of '0' and '1'. These patters forms a world of its own and we humans are the regular tourists of this world. Sounds like James Cameroon's next venture ?! But the fact of the matter is that the term 'fiction' is slowly loosing its  relevance to its meaning and the thin line between imagination and reality is fading quickly than we ever thought. 

Virtual Reality is a computer simulation of real world which incorporates I/O devices to allow you to interact with it and experience an artificial environment where you can interact with objects and projections of this environment via touch, gesture, voice and even with your thoughts. 

A lot of research is being going on for decades to make a virtual world more believable and closer to reality. Lets dive deep into the enormous ocean of information forming an artificial world.


VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language)

In addition to HTML (HyperText Markup Language), that has become a standard authoring tool for the creation of home pages, VRML provides three-dimensional worlds with integrated hyperlinks on the Web. Home pages become home spaces. The viewing of VRML models via a VRML plug-in for Web browsers is usually done on a graphics monitor under mouse-control and, therefore, not fully immersive. However, the syntax and data structure of VRML provide an excellent tool for the modeling of three-dimensional worlds that are functional and interactive and that can, ultimately, be transferred into fully immersive viewing systems. The current version VRML 2.0 has become an international ISO/IEC standard under the name VRML97. 


Input Processor : Controls device which gives input to computer. Objective is to get coordinate data to rest of the system with minimum lag. keyboard, mouse, trackers, voice recog etc. can be the input devices.

Simulation Processor : Core of VR. Takes user I/O along with any tasks programmed into the virtual world and determine the actions that will take place in V world.

Rendering Processor : Create sensation that are O/P to user. Seperate rendering process is used for visual, auditory or haptic systems.

World DB : Stores (coordinates and other info like texture, color, intesity etc) 3D objects of the world + scripts that describes actions of these objects. 
DESKTOP VIRTUAL REALITY

Desktop virtual reality (VR) offers a powerful environment for visualizing structure in large information sets. In well-designed virtual worlds, users can employ skills from wayfinding in the real world. With Desktop VR a computer screen is normally used as the display medium. The user views the virtual environment on the computer screen. In order to experience the virtual environment, the user must look at the screen the whole time. Today, the term 'Virtual Reality' is also used for applications that are not fully immersive. The boundaries are becoming blurred, but all variations of VR will be important in the future. This includes mouse-controlled navigation through a three-dimensional environment on a graphics monitor, stereo viewing from the monitor via stereo glasses, stereo projection systems, and others. Examples of DVR are playing 3D games on computer, Watching movies etc. A common criticism of Desktop VR focuses on the lack of  peripheral  vision  afforded  by  a  desktop  display, claiming  that users are not aware of their surroundings or of  their  location  in  the  virtual  space.Desktop VR focuses on mouse, joystick, or space/sensorball-controlled navigation through a 3D environment on a graphics monitor under computer control.

Two recent trends in human-computer interfaces are striking. First, as the volume and complexity of the information sphere grows, more advanced techniques are needed to visualize and manage it. Such approaches, generally known as information visualization, can be seen as moving downward from abstraction to representation. Second, as the power and sophistication of computer technology increases, its ability to simulate the world also increases. Such approaches, generally known as VR, can be seen as moving upward from concreteness to dematerialization. These 2 trends are starting to meet in the domain of information visualization using desktop VR. This meeting enables significant improvements in the everyday accessibility of large information sets.
                                         

Research on navigation in VR began with urban design studies of the physical world. Work on legibility (imageability) showed that resident efficiency and enjoyment is enhanced by a design with landmarks, paths, districts, nodes, and edges in a strong hierarchy. Later work analyzed wayfinding - the conceptual part of navigation - into 3 iterative stages: mental mapping, route planning, and plan execution. Recent research concludes that wayfinding design principles from the real world often apply to large virtual environments. Design principles for information landscapes appeared in a summary of wayfinding research with application to virtual worlds. In related work, a layout algorithm was proposed, based on hyperbolic visualizations and cone trees. More abstract 3D textual environments, including Apple Computer’s “HotSauce”, were used to represent hierarchical information. 

IMMERSIVE VIRTUAL REALITY

video

Immersion is the state of consciousness where an immersant’s awareness of physical self is transformed by being surrounded in an engrossing environment; often artificial, creating a perception of Presence in a non-physical world. The term is widely used for describing partial or complete suspension of disbelief enabling action or reaction to stimulations encountered in a virtual or artistic environment. The degree to which the virtual or artistic environment faithfully reproduces reality determines the degree of suspension of disbelief. The greater the suspension of disbelief, the greater the degree of Presence achieved. Types of Immersion:
According to Ernest W. Adams, author of “Postmodernism and the Three Types of Immersion”, immersion can be separated into three main categories. Staffan Bjork and JussiHolopainen authors of “Patterns in Game Design” use a similar classification only giving different titles to the categories and adding a fouth. Dr. Thomas M McLaughlin, motion capture pioneer and patent holder, has added yet another category to this rubric: 1.Tactical (or Sensory-motoric) Immersion is experienced when performing tactile or physical operations that involve skill. Players feel “in the zone” while perfecting actions that result in success. 2.Strategic (or Cognitive) Immersion is more cerebral, and is associated with mental challenge and decision making. Chess players experience strategic immersion when choosing a correct solution among a broad array of possibilities, without a corresponding physical set of reactions to effect that decision. 3.Narrative (Emotional) Immersion is realized when the immersant becomes emotionally invested in a story or experience. 4.Spatial Immersion occurs when the immersant feels the simulated world is perceptually convincing and feels he or she is really “there” and the simulated world looks and feels “real”. 5.Total Immersion occurs when all four types of immersion previously described are realized in a single experience.
IMMERSIVE DIGITAL ENVIRONMENT
Cosmopolis (2005), Maurice Benayoun's Giant Virtual Reality Interactive Installation
An immersive digital environment is an artificial, interactive, computer-created scene or "world" within which a user can immerse themselves.
Immersive digital environments could be thought of as synonymous with Virtual reality, but without the implication that actual "reality" is being simulated. An immersive digital environment could be a model of reality, but it could also be a complete fantasy user interface or abstraction, as long as the user of the environment is immersed within it. The definition of immersion is wide and variable, but here it is assumed to mean simply that the user feels like they are part of the simulated "universe". The success with which an immersive digital environment can actually immerse the user is dependent on many factors such as believable 3D computer graphics, surround sound, interactive user-input and other factors such as simplicity, functionality and potential for enjoyment. New technologies are currently under development which claims to bring realistic environmental effects to the players' environment - effects like wind, seat vibration and ambient lighting.

MICROSOFT XBOX 360 KINECT

An XBOX 360 Kinect Game

SOFTWARE
Kinect builds on software technology developed internally by Rare, a subsidiary of Microsoft Game Studios owned by Microsoft, and on range camera technology by Israeli developer PrimeSense, which developed a system that can interpret specific gestures, making completely hands-free control of electronic devices possible by using an infrared projector and camera and a special microchip to track the movement of objects and individuals in three dimension. This 3D scanner system called Light Coding employs a variant of image-based 3D reconstruction.

HARDWARE
The device features an "RGB camera, depth sensor and multi-array microphone running proprietary software”, which provide full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition and voice recognition capabilities.
The depth sensor consists of an infrared laser projector combined with a monochrome CMOS sensor, which captures video data in 3D under any ambient light conditions. The sensing range of the depth sensor is adjustable, and the Kinect software is capable of automatically calibrating the sensor based on gameplay and the player's physical environment, accommodating for the presence of furniture or other obstacles.
Kinect sensor outputs video at a frame rate of 30 Hz. The RGB video stream uses 8-bit VGA resolution (640 × 480 pixels) with a Bayer color filter, while the monochrome depth sensing video stream is in VGA resolution (640 × 480 pixels) with 11-bit depth, which provides 2,048 levels of sensitivity. The Kinect sensor has a practical ranging limit of 1.2–3.5 m (3.9–11 ft) distance when used with the Xbox software.
AUGMENTED REALITY
Nokia CityLens
Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. It is related to a more general concept called mediated reality, in which a view of reality is modified (possibly even diminished rather than augmented) by a computer. As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality. By contrast, virtual reality replaces the real world with a simulated one. Augmentation is conventionally in real-time and in semantic context with environmental elements, such as sports scores on TV during a match. With the help of advanced AR technology (e.g. adding computer vision and object recognition) the information about the surrounding real world of the user becomes interactive and digitally manipulable. Artificial information about the environment and its objects can be overlaid on the real world.

APPLICATIONS & FUTURE SCOPE OF VR

There are numerous applications in the domains of health care, education and lifelong learning, manufacturing, and other areas where this technology shows great promise for improving productivity. Early results show an increase in productivity and a reduction in cost and resources. Examples of current use include: searching of networked databases and libraries; manipulation of molecules for development of nanotechnology devices and chemical systems; shared surgical interventions; modeling, simulation, and analyses; scientific and technical visualization applications; prototyping and planning; and training for and monitoring of complex human-computer tasks.  National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) realized the importance of virtual reality as early as mid ’80.They used this technology for many space-based operations, such as driving a bulldozer on the Moon by remote control or using it as a training device. Three-dimensional simulations of the space station, the landscape of Mars, and other complex scenarios were constructed by NASA.
Useful applications of VR also include training in a variety of areas (military, medical, equipment operation, etc.), education, design evaluation (virtual prototyping), architectural walk-through, human factors and ergonomic studies, simulation of assembly sequences and maintenance tasks, assistance for the handicapped, study and treatment of phobias (e.g., fear of height), entertainment, and much more.




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