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Virtual Reality, Is It Really Reality?

Virtual Reality - is a mirage real or imagination? Does Peter Pan really fly? Hummmm....  Smile...

Which is the reality and which is virtual?

Over the week end I was thinking about simulators as I watched the Shuttle Astronauts on NASA TV.

When the Astronauts train they use real parts of a Shuttle, the International Space Station (ISS) and copies of the tools, instruments, devices they will be working with in space. The difference is there is gravity here and none there.

So we get to the 'virtual' simulation part, there is a very large pool that NASA has pieces of the Shuttle, ISS, and devices in, the Astronauts are in their environmental suits the same as when they are in orbit. When in the pool this is called simulated 'zero gravity', by making every thing buoyant in the water it is as close to being weightless as you can get on the ground.

Things tend to 'float' around in the water the same as in space, however in space it you let an object go it will 'float' away from you at a high rate of speed, in the pool it will float down towards the bottom of the pool. The difference is, in the pool you can recover what you let go, in space it will eventually enter the earths atmosphere and burn up the same as a meteor.

Training simulators have been around for a long time, over a hundred years. After WWI the US Postal Service and the US Military contracted a company to build a 'flight simulator' it was a small replica of an aircraft cockpit that was enclosed, on a pedestal that would move about the three axis, nose up, nose down, roll left, roll right, yaw left, yaw right. This simulator was called the Link Trainer. A lot of the pilots that flew in WWII began their training in the Link Trainer.

So what is Virtual Reality? It isn't!

It is either Real or it is Virtual, you can have both as in virtual reality. There is a mixture of two concepts that comes out as a simulator or you are doing the real thing.

11 January 2015

I was watching a TV show where a renown author and scientist was talking about virtual reality, however he seemed to be confused as he was saying that virtual was reality. I think the misinformation brokers are working overtime to change how we view our world. Virtual and Reality are two completely different concepts. We have ingrained ourselves so much into the computing world we can not separate the reality from the virtual... So sad.

Virtual is imaginary, a virtual game is a program on a computer that you would 'imagine' you are the character doing the actions of the program to complete a task.

In reality if you were running full tilt across a plateau and came to the edge with out realizing it, failed to slow down or stop you would run over the edge. You would fall to the ground. If it was a short distance of say 10 feet then you may be hurt slightly, if it was over 100 feet you would be hurt very badly or may even die.

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In a virtual simulation if your character was doing the same thing the character would be hurt or die but you wouldn't, your computer would not suffer any damage. You would learn from your experience with out pain.

Virtual Reality where is the pain?

Now I wonder if this is a good thing or a bad thing because humans learn from an experience and part of that learning experience is the pain involved when you make a mistake, such as when you touched a hot pan on the stove when you were young. You learned that a hot pan will cause you a lot of pain, hopefully it was just your finger tip. Now you have a healthy respect for any thing you know is hot, no?

Physical simulations such as what NASA and Pilot training use are somewhat less pain full, however you find out where you made a mistake right away and learn from the experience.

Virtual simulation you may or may not learn from the experience however what I wonder is with the virtual simulation do you remember the 'pain' as much as you do the hot pan? I think not, I play a lot of computer games, some are shooters [games that simulate shooting weapons] and I know that this has not helped me with my accuracy on the shooting range with my pistols.

But they are both fun! :)

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