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principle for collaboration. In particular, we believe that the “behavioural'' approach
of virtual reality can help to bring about significant advances at the level of the technical
characteristics of an “efficient'' virtual reality system, and therefore to replace a largely
empirical approach by validated solutions, from the point of view of human behaviour.
As regards the dissociated (but inter-communicating) scientific sectors of Life Sciences
and Science and Technology of Information and Communication, the advantage of
this type of device is to provide a technical base for the study of concepts like sensory
immersion and finally “virtual reality''. In this sense, it is no longer about considering
virtual reality as a technological element, but as the result of the interaction of a human
subject with a device, whose operational aim is nothing but that interaction. It is thus
necessary to acknowledge that virtual reality becomes a “common'' experimental tool
in the field of human sciences. We can particularly cite the “virtual classroom'' (Rizzo
et al., 2002) (recognised as a standard tool by the American Psychological Association),
designed to detect and treat attention-related problems in school-going children. We
can also mention the numerous therapeutic applications (see above). We should not
ignore the fact that technology (and mainly computers) is increasingly powerful and
less and less expensive (at least for a part of the devices).
There nevertheless remains an important problem in the approach that consists
in testing hypotheses in virtual reality. This is the problem of generalization of results
obtained during laboratory testing in the real world. The experiments possible in virtual
reality are limited by the sensory cues and the interactions that can be reproduced, and
are thus necessarily limited with respect to those that are possible in the real world. This
is a problem which concerns all the experimental sciences, and has done so for a long
time now. From this point of view, virtual reality constitutes a significant challenge, as it
claims to bring the real world into the laboratory. As we are at the brink of technology,
another problem concerns, in essence, the world of standardisation of virtual reality
devices. The reproducibility of testing (and their results) is thus even more difficult to
achieve. We thus see that virtual reality technologies, by entering the world of basic
research, have given it more power. In return, basic research in the field of human
behaviour will help to systematise the development of virtual reality technologies.
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Buekers, M., Montagne, G., de Rugy, A. & Laurent, M. (1999) The regulation of externally
paced human locomotion in virtual reality. Neuroscience Letters , 275, 171-174.
Cruz-Neira, C. (1998) Making virtual reality useful: Immersive interactive applications. Journal
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Durlach, N. & Mavor, A. (1995) Virtual reality: Scientific and technological challenges .
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Fuchs, P., Moreau, G. & Papin, J.-P. (2001) Le traité de la réalité virtuelle . 1st edition. Paris,
Les Presses de l'Ecole des mines. ISBN 2-911762-34-7.
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