History of digital realities

History of digital realities

The idea of a virtual reality is not new (see for example Malraux 1947), but its digital form has greatly changed over the last decades through developments in digital technology (for an overview, see Van Dam, Laidlaw & Michelle Simpson 2002). Many early explorations took place in medicine, particularly in computer-aided surgery using specialized hardware and software (Rosen et al. 1996), and now also robotics (McCloy & Stone 2001). Technologies included tethered Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs), invented in the late 1960s (see Sutherland 1968), 'data gloves,' CAVEs, and the prospect of performing surgical procedures remotely over long distances (telesurgery). However, the technology was expensive, cumbersome, and publicized as ultimate training tool. However, much VR was 'weak,' outputting a 3D environment to a 2D format (Heim 1993), and essentially not 'fully' immersive.

To account for VR technologies that do not provide full immersion, or were not entirely Augmented Reality either (…), Milgram & Kishino (1994) introduced Mixed Reality as a subset of Virtual Reality. They presented the virtuality continuum, a taxonomy which categorizes a system based on ontological, realistic, and illusionary dimensions: "how much do we know about the world being displayed?", "how 'realistically' are we able to display it?", and "what is the extent of the illusion that the observer is present within that world?" (Milgram & Kishino 1994). However, the virtuality continuum does not apply to software or hardware specifically, but rather provides a gradation of overall experience (see also Hughes et al. 2005). In fact, recent explorations emphasize the significance of human experience and address the multisensory spectrum (smell, hearing, tactile stimulation, etc.), specifically for purposes of training and education (see for example Jackson et al. 2002; Stone 2011; França & Soares 2015). At the same time, multi-corporate businesses and various industrial sectors, including military, have started heavily investing in VR technologies for training purposes (Lele 2011).

Low-cost devices and interest from large-scale industry made VR technologies available to other fields (Bun et al. 2017): teaching and education (Akhmetov, Faizrakhmanov & Faizrakhmanova 2015), cultural heritage (Styliani et al. 2009; Bruno et al. 2010; Carrozzino & Bergamasco 2010; Sylaiou et al. 2010; Rua & Alvito 2011), and engineering and construction (Damgrave, Lutters & Drukker 2014; Sampaio & Martins 2014; Pérez Fernández & Alonso 2015; Lawson, Salanitri & Waterfield 2016; Stratos et al. 2016). The functionalist emphasis of the last two decades has now shifted to the bodily experience of alternate worlds (Sylaiou et al. 2010; Rua & Alvito 2011). This shift to examination of human experience is facilitated by cheaper technology. At the same time, a great variety of software has democratized content production and the means to experience this at home. This study aims to devise a new taxonomy, one for VR production and modeling software, based on user exemplars.

Martin Uildriks

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  • Bruno, F., S. Bruno, G. De Sensi, M.-L. Luchi, S. Mancuso, and M. Muzzupappa, 2010. "From 3D reconstruction to virtual reality: A complete methodology for digital archaeological exhibition," Journal of Cultural Heritage 11 (1): 42-49 (doi: 10.1016/j.culher.2009.02.006).

  • Bun, P., F. Gorski, D. Grajewski, R. Wichniarek, and P. Zawadzki, 2017. "Low – Cost Devices Used in Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy," Procedia Computer Science 104: 445-451 (doi: 10.1016/j.procs.2017.01.158).

  • Carrozzino, M., and M. Bergamasco, 2010. "Beyond virtual museums: Experiencing immersive virtual reality in real museums," Journal of Cultural Heritage 11 (4): 452-458 (doi: 10.1016/j.culher.2010.04.001).

  • Damgrave, R. G. J., E. Lutters, and J. W. Drukker, 2014. "Rationalizing Virtual Reality based on Manufacturing Paradigms," Procedia CIRP 21: 264-269 (doi: 10.1016/j.procir.2014.03.132).

  • França, A. C. P. d., and M. M. Soares, 2015. "Dialogical Self on Virtual Reality Systems: Presence and Embodiment in Human Situated Interaction," Procedia Manufacturing 3: 6444-6450 (doi: 10.1016/j.promfg.2015.07.923).

  • Heim, M., 1993. The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

  • Hughes, C. E., C. B. Stapleton, D. E. Hughes, and E. Smith, 2005. "Mixed reality in education, entertainment and training: An interdisciplinary approach," IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications 26 (6): 24-30.

  • Jackson, A., N. W. John, N. A. Thacker, R. T. Ramsden, J. E. Gillespie, E. Gobbetti, G. Zanetti, R. Stone, A. D. Linney, G. H. Alusi, S. S. Franceschini, A. Schwerdtner, and A. Emmen, 2002. "Developing a Virtual Reality Environment in Petrous Bone Surgery: A State-of-the-Art Review," Otology & Neurotology 23: 111–121.

  • Lawson, G., D. Salanitri, and B. Waterfield, 2016. "Future directions for the development of virtual reality within an automotive manufacturer," Appl Ergon 53 Pt B: 323-330 (doi: 10.1016/j.apergo.2015.06.024).

  • Lele, A., 2011. "Virtual reality and its military utility," Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing 4 (1): 17-26 (doi: 10.1007/s12652-011-0052-4).

  • Malraux, A., 1947. La Musée immaginaire (Paris: Gallimard).

  • McCloy, R., and R. Stone, 2001. "Science, medicine, and the future. Virtual reality in surgery," British Medical Journal 323: 912-915.

  • Milgram, P., and F. Kishino, 1994. "A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays," IEICE Transactions on Information and Systems E77-D (12): 1321–1329.

  • Pérez Fernández, R., and V. Alonso, 2015. "Virtual Reality in a shipbuilding environment," Advances in Engineering Software 81: 30-40 (doi: 10.1016/j.advengsoft.2014.11.001).

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  • Rua, H., and P. Alvito, 2011. "Living the past: 3D models, virtual reality and game engines as tools for supporting archaeology and the reconstruction of cultural heritage – the case-study of the Roman villa of Casal de Freiria," Journal of Archaeological Science 38 (12): 3296-3308 (doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2011.07.015).

  • Sampaio, A. Z., and O. P. Martins, 2014. "The application of virtual reality technology in the construction of bridge: The cantilever and incremental launching methods," Automation in Construction 37: 58-67 (doi: 10.1016/j.autcon.2013.10.015).

  • Stone, R. J., 2011. "The (human) science of medical virtual learning environments," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 366 (1562): 276-285 (doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0209).

  • Stratos, A., R. Loukas, M. Dimitris, G. Konstantinos, M. Dimitris, and C. George, 2016. "A Virtual Reality Application to Attract Young Talents to Manufacturing," Procedia CIRP 57: 134-139 (doi: 10.1016/j.procir.2016.11.024).

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  • Sutherland, I. E., 1968. "A head-mounted three dimensional display," Proceedings of the December 9-11, 1968, fall joint computer conference (New York: ACM), 757-764.

  • Sylaiou, S., K. Mania, A. Karoulis, and M. White, 2010. "Exploring the relationship between presence and enjoyment in a virtual museum," International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 68 (5): 243-253 (doi: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2009.11.002).

  • Van Dam, A., D. H. Laidlaw, and R. Michelle Simpson, 2002. "Experiments in Immersive Virtual Reality for Scientific Visualization," Computers & Graphics 26: 535–555.