Virtual Environments: Introduction

Virtual Environments (sometimes called Virtual Reality or VR) is the use of real time 3D graphics with 3D models, combined with direct manipulation and a display technology that provides for or creates the illusion of immersion in the model world.

In 1965 Ivan Sutherland laid out the course of research for the next 25 years. He stated that the challenge was that the user should be able to look at the display device as a window into a virtual world and that that virtual world should appear realistic. Research in the next 25 years concentrated on accomplishing this. Video animation gave reality to motion, but without interaction.

The improvement in processing power, memory, and graphics display systems have been such that the original objective of presenting a realistic virtual environment that users can interact with is now becoming closer to being possible.

VR systems involve five types of technologies:


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Last modified on February 18, 1999, G. Scott Owen, owen@siggraph.org