6.5.3 Virtual reality
The virtual visitor to AlphaWorld may come away with a feeling of disappointment. The graphic representations of streets, buildings and avatars are quite impressive, but they are not reality.
This is true, of course. Three-D modelling techniques are an active subject of research, and present-day commercial computers are still not powerful enough to construct truly realistic illusions of reality. However, developments already in the pipeline may move things on a stage further in the near future. The science of virtual reality (VR) is still in its infancy, but in its most ambitious form, immersive VR, it aims to dispense with the computer screen altogether and provide a completely realistic experience. Visual effects are supplied through goggles that give an impression of a surrounding world. Sound is supplied directly through earpieces. There are even special gloves that give an illusion of touch. Such techniques are still on the frontiers of research, but elements of immersive VR are already in use with the US military.