By Elie Bou Assi

Elie Bou Assi is PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Polytechnique School of Montreal.

Elie Bou Assi is PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering at Polytechnique School of Montreal.

Virtual reality has the enormous capability to replace your reality with some virtual computer generated environment. Imagine yourself, just by putting some sort of goggles, being transported anywhere while going nowhere. It has the ability to transport users into a whole other world environment. The idea is to trick your brain into thinking that what you are seeing is your new reality.

Imagine 20 years ago trying to predict the way we live today; it is impossible. That’s the promise Virtual Reality has nowadays! Virtual reality means feeling an imaginary (virtual) world, rather than the real one. The imaginary world is a simulation running on a computer and the data is fed by a certain system to the brain. 

Although not termed as virtual reality, its first applications date to the 1950’s when the visionary cinematographer Morton Heilig built a user console called Sensorama that enabled the user to watch television in 3D. This was followed by the development of the first head mounted display (HMD) known as the Headsight by Philco corporation engineers in 1961. In 1965, the “Ultimate Display” system was envisioned by Ivan Sutherlan what triggered the commercial development of Virtual reality. The first commercial entertainment Virtual reality system was first released in 1991. Since then the booming of computation power has push it to an unbelievable extent that the definition envisioned by Kalawsky in 1993 is becoming very close to be realistic: “A virtual reality is a synthetic sensory experience which may one day be indistinguishable from the real world.”

Nowadays, Virtual reality applications extend beyond entertainment to cover aviation, military, education, engineering, science, medicine, media, business, sports and many others. If you can dream it, then it can make it. However, we should always keep in mind that Virtual reality is a medium for progress but not the progress itself. 

When asked to imagine the future saturated with virtual reality, Jim Stoten presented it with the following artistic illustration while stating:

“I would like to show a futuristic street scene, showing people of the future using virtual technology in an everyday way. Some people will be walking alongside their own projected pet dinosaur.... Some will be talking to hologramatic projections of business colleagues or family members on their telephone­ eye projectors. Some will be playing huge interactive video games on screens the size of buildings, with large VR hands. Some will be watching TV shows as they walk along.” 


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