Looking at the World Through Virtual Reality

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Looking at the World Through Virtual Reality

Sierra Walsh, Debate Page Editor

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Being somewhere you are not, feeling emotions that are not yours, being in situations that you were never actually there for, being inside the head of another- these are all powers that virtual reality promises people. The use of virtual reality claims that the user will feel immersion into another world and by doing so makes the user become unaware of the real world around them and become enmeshed the alternative world of virtual reality.
Yet how does virtual reality work and why do people use it? The oculus glasses map out the wearer’s movements by the use of a tracking system and the images adjust accordingly. The scene that is displayed in front of the person is dependent on what the person is doing, if the wearer walks forward, the scene changes with the wearers action. The tracking system inside of the glasses is connected to a computer. The scanning system needs to be accurate because if it is not, the computer will not be able to correctly adjust the images in order to display a realistic environment with a realistic depth of perception to the wearer’s eyes.
When wearing the glasses, the wearer is actually seeing two images, yet by the time that the image gets back to your eyes from your brain, the brain has already combined the separate images into one, giving it the 3D illusion.The computer is also able to control the sound that the wearer hears by making the sounds and the scene match and move together as one. The computers also allow the wearer to smell artificial smells that have to do with the scene that they are seeing.
All of these senses together can be housed in a virtual reality helmet that both shows the new reality and keeps the old one out from one’s senses. This enables the wearer to become fully immersed in the new reality, making it as if the old reality no longer exists.
The first person to event the HMD or head mounted display, was named Ivan Sutherland, although the first one that he made was rather awkward and could not be worn comfortably. He was not responsible for all the virtual reality, other important names in virtual reality are Morton Heilig, Jaron Lanier, Douglas Engelbart, and Myron Krueger.
Also inventors are coming out with clothing articles that have the power of virtual reality. They have suits that have impulses that set off certain nerves in one’s body when they see fit. These impulses are also controlled by a computer and can be lessened or greater according to what is fit for that matter. They also have come out with gloves that help to simulate what the person is touching in the virtual world to feel like they are touching it in actual reality.
Virtual reality is mainly used in the gaming and entertainment world, but is being introduced to the world of science and the world as a whole. Some people are hoping that they can use virtual reality to help sell houses and that they can map out potential houses for the people who have the final say on the building fate. Workers want to be able to show what they imagine the place looking like and then showing it to their boss so they can see how it would really look in that certain area without it having to be built yet. Also, potential house buyers would not have to travel so much if they could see the houses that they are looking at through virtual reality. This is because by doing this the potential buyers are able to practically be in the house and are able to limit down their house choices quite a bit.
According to Heidi Ottley, a sophomore, said “I think that virtual reality is a good idea because it is super cool. I have this app on my phone, I can not remember what it is called, that allows you to take your iphone and you put it in these special goggles and then when you turn your phone it realizes that and then it turns with you. I got it from my grandma, who got it from the New York Times. It comes with a cardboard box that is used in the form of goggles, you do not need to use the cardboard box however but it is a lot more like looking at your phone screen. I think that the cardboard box makes it a lot cooler because it makes me feel like I am in the scene, not just looking at it”.
So that is how it works.
Now why is this such a developing field? For one, there is virtual reality as theater medium. This is allowing one to play interactive games and even ‘live’ another life. While a philosopher may worry that this will fundamentally alter the human condition and make kids, especially, unable to live in the real reality there are some potential benefits. Communication can be clearer as remote meetings or reunions will be made to seem like everyone is in the same room. Interactive design will allow people from all over the world to be working efficiently on projects together. Even NASA has a stake where they turn virtual reality around and use all the sensors to have a human on earth control a human like robot in distant space. “I think that virtual reality is a good invention because it is able to show people things that they would never have seen. I think that this is a cool way to watch things and a new way to experience things”, said Nicole Palmieri a junior in the high school. Kaeli Thompson, a freshman, however said that “I worry about virtual reality because it can cause a way for people to escape their own reality and go into someone else’s. I feel as though it is important to move around and live in your own life not in someone else’s. If people are unhappy with their lives they will be more tempted to just live in virtual reality and that is something that could be very dangerous for future generations.”
Only time will tell if the potential benefits to society will outway the risks, but time is moving quickly. If the human race, and the world a whole has a stake in whether virtual reality improves reality or becomes a more and more appealing escape from a reality that is getting worse and worse. “Virtual reality is a new idea that I have heard a little about but not a lot. I am interested to see where this goes and how it shapes my life and the lives of other around me. The effects being negative or positive, I feel as though virtually reality will definitely affect people’s lives in the future” , said sophomore Kaitlyn Fenton.

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