Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Introduction to virtual reality
Philippe Fuchs and Pascal Guitton
1.1.1 Introduction
It is natural for man to escape from everyday reality for different reasons (artistic,
cultural or professional). Thanks to technological developments, man has been able to
satisfy this need through various but set representations of the world that are mainly
audio or visual. Set in the sense that the user can observe the representation only as
a spectator , be it a painting, a photograph, or a film of real or computer-generated
images. Virtual reality offers him an additional dimension by providing him a virtual
environment in which he becomes the actor . The readers must not be mistaken; the
novelty is not in the creation of virtual environments that are increasingly efficient
in terms of their representation, but rather in the possibility of being able to “act
virtually'' in an artificial world (or “interact'' in a more technical sense).
For the general public, virtual reality oscillates between fantasy and technology,
dream and reality. It is obvious that a number of mysteries are built around this disci-
pline; the first mystery lies in the oxymoron in its name, which links two apparently
opposite terms. Who has not dreamed of or has not been frightened by science-fiction
topics and films that use certain technical aspects that fall under the concept of virtual
reality? The focus of this topic, other than describing a state of the art on this subject,
is to correctly define the boundaries of this domain so as to demystify virtual reality.
Imagining virtual reality has been possible only recently, thanks to a significant
increase in the intrinsic power of computers, especially the possibility of creating
computer-generated images in real time and enabling a real-time interaction between
the user and the virtual world. The reader must note that it is these technical devel-
opments that have permitted the boom of virtual reality, and thus, by deduction, they
determine its impact caused by the inherent limits of the techniques. Let's not listen
to those who have claimed, a bit too early, that the “Big Day of Virtual Reality'' has
arrived! Let's simply try to take up this challenge to get through this new stage (“acting
in virtual reality'') being well aware that the road will be long but nonetheless exciting.
The birth of virtual reality was not spontaneous. Like any other new technology,
it had a past when it was not known as “virtual reality''. It has mainly been transport
simulators which have enabled the professionals to interact with a partially 1 virtual
1 The car, airplane or train driver's seat is not simulated, but real.
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