What is the most realistic virtual reality system we could devise at the moment?

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lrh9

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I really enjoy the idea of virtual reality, and I wonder what is the most realistic system we could devise at the moment with our current technology. I'd prefer technology that is commonplace and feasible for use in a normal environment.

Now obviously for vision, you'd use goggles to get the most immersive effect.

Earphones allow you to hear.

A quality microphone capable of supporting a high sampling rate could allow for voice input.

Smell and taste I can't see being economically feasible or technologically possible with current technology. A possible system though might have reservoirs that hold scent and flavor chemicals, and a basic processing center like maybe a mixer or heater, and a ventilation and feed system that could transport the scents and flavors. It would probably have a very limited number of scents and flavors and would probably be expensive or difficult to replace the chemicals.

As for basic touch sensations, such as heat or cold, pain, and pressure, a suit might be devised that had heating/cooling coils, an air pressure system (instead of heating and cooling coils, it might be conducive to have an air heating or cooling system, and electrodes on it for electric jolts giving pain. Of course, strong measures would have to be taken to ensure that the suit would remain in the control of the user at all times and that safe bounds were placed on all functions as well as fail safes. This would probably be one of the more uncomfortable systems to use. It would also be one of the greater energy consumers and have a high price as well.

Motion for the upper body is fairly easy to solve. The thing I dislike about most virtual realities (games included) is that your avatar/character's head is stuck in a brace. Meaning your eyesight is facing the same way as your body. In real life, your head is on a swivel with the ability to look left, right, up, and down, and anywhere in between. This could be remedied if the virtual reality was written to support it. And it could be implemented in the vision goggles/headset. Another interesting feature might be having a vest and belt to indicate where your head was in relation to your torso. This would allow a virtual reality to recognize if a person bent for instance.

Hand motion is a part of that too. There have been game gloves to detect motion. Again, elbow-pads and shoulder-pads or some other device would allow more information into the virtual world about the way your arms are positioned and bent.

The most difficult part of motion in VR is the lower body. Say you wanted to walk or run. You can't traditionally walk or run because eventually you'll run out of space or get too far away from the computer. You could get on a treadmill or some other device, but how would it know how to match your movement speed? How would it allow for range of movement? I think the best system for lower body movement is a full body suspension system. Not only would it allow you to walk in just about any way you could move your legs, it could also allow for 360 degrees of movement in all axes, and it could allow for unusual movements such as swimming. Of course, this would be the most difficult to design physically speaking. Most people aren't physically fit enough to use normal suspension. It would have to not only encompass everything mentioned above, but it would also have to be as comfortable for the user as possible. Preferably as comfortable as a person is when he or she is normally standing or walking. If it were designed well enough, it might even reduce impact on joints. As a plus, it might also be possible to work out some sort of resistance system that could simulate forces. (Lifting weight, pushing, etc.) The problems with this is it would be another expensive system, it would be difficult to create an environment for it, (I can't see it fitting well in normal rooms) , and it would still be uncomfortable for people to use.

One final system I saw was the OCZ NIA Brain-Computer Interface. It is a headband that can detect upper facial muscle movements (including eye movements) and brain waves. There might be several applications for this, such as emotion or thought detection, changing what you see based upon eye movements, (for instance, if you squint maybe part of the screen you saw would sharpen while the edges blur or something), and in fantastical VRs abilities such as telekinesis, etc.

One day I believe that we will be able to experience virtual reality directly via our nervous system without the need to receive or transmit input through external peripherals. However, at the moment we must depend on these devices if we want a VR system. What are some devices and technologies that you can think of that might let us have VR now?

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Maviarab

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Great topic and thread! :)

Not too well up on current VR applications personally as can't see the point in researching them at this moment in time, as they are either silly money or just plain rubbish (or a combination of the two lol).

Its interesting to keep up to date I gues to see how technology is improving but to me thats as far as I will go with it.

I do agree though, that VR with a myriad of accessories is neither use nor ornament, though for us to see it in everyday applications (probably gaming first) thats the way it will have to be, it will be ridiculously expensive and only available to a slect few. Lets take the Lawnmower Man type of VR etc. Not something I fancy whilst playing the latest and greatest MMORPG if it takes me as long to get in and out of it as it does to play the game itself.

As for nueral capabilities then yes this will be the way forward imo. Maybe all you need is  set of glasses...and your thought does all the rest. I want to run over to that boulder and open the crate next to it. You think about running and your character/avater runs etc. This would be amazing, but weather or not that technology will be available in our lifetime or not one can only speculate.

Then we could get to (as has been seen in sci-fi before) a VR room...you walk into the room (or with apps could be in your own home) and 'switch' on the application and you are there...in the game world of your choice etc (very much akin to plugging into the matrix I guess).

Again, if it will be in our time or not time will only tell. But to use a matrix quote...'and this will really bake your noodle'...I find more interesting is this: What technology we have and know abaout...and also what technology (including AI) that we may not know about that is being kept from us...


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Art

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I agree...very good thread / subject.

I'm sure that there are so many private firms exploring VR in ways that would boggle our minds. Don't forget various world governments and their numerous "secret" project" agencies.

I think a nice body molded recliner with neural connected headset and the proper inducements might let you "take a trip and never leave the farm" so to speak. Imagine finishing your VR adventure all sweaty or tired from having been running, jumping and fighting the bad guys or climbing the mountain or driven a tank or countless other adventures...yet you never really left your recliner.

At this point in development I can't say with any degree of certainty just what exists but I can tell you that if you let your wildest imaginings loose, there's surely someone or some group out there working on something close.
- The truth is out there - ...<cue strange whistling music...>
In the world of AI, it's the thought that counts!

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Art

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Sort of inline but not totally...OK...

I tried to quit smoking two years ago. My doctor gladly wrote me a prescription for a drug
called Chantix. It consists of two sets of many pills that get taken daily and one gradually
steps down the pill's dosage. This is not nicotine...some type of drug.

After a month, things were going fairly well and my smoking had tapered off to a large degree.
It was the later part of the second month that the dreams started.

I don't mean, puffy white clouds in the robin-egg colored skies. I mean running for your life over rocks,
hills, trees, into old abandoned buildings, sometimes alone and sometimes with people I knew.
Peering through broken windows only to see the gang of "bad guys" looking for us. Running...
branches slapping me across the face, panting, trying to inhale more air...trying not to be seen by
them.

Finally getting cornered by too many of them to fight as they came closer. Looking down I'm now holding
an auto loading shotgun which I point and level without regard and start pulling the trigger until every one
of them was dead or dying! Then as I turned to walk away from it all a large curtain blew out of a nearby
doorway and wrapped around me....NO...it was my bed sheet and I had just woke up...gasping for breath,
tired, exhausted and sweating profusely!

Thank goodness it had only been a dream. I had hoped it had.

I'm basically a pretty non-violent person who would never harm a person unless my life or family's was in certain danger.

The above dream was true...in that I actually had it Exactly as I described it. Dreams much like these happened with greater frequency...every night...every day if I napped...until I started NOT going to bed...Not getting a restful night's sleep. This went on for two weeks until I couldn't take it any more. I decided that smoking was far better for me than what I was experiencing so I threw the rest away and told my doctor. To my surprise he acknowledged that there had been patients that exhibited similar fantasy or halucinogenic dreams. He also told me that even though they (the Drug approval agency) probably shouldn't have released it, the drug apparently helped more people than it hurt so you see Spock...The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

VR? I think I'll wait a bit longer as I've already taken more than my share of trips, thank you!

(I did quit smoking a year later via Transdermal Nicotine Patches).
In the world of AI, it's the thought that counts!

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Maviarab

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Scary stuff Art, bet yes deffinatly related. Grats on quitting...stil trying to get there myself lol :)

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Freddy

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Interesting experience Art, I am glad you got over smoking another way.  I still smoke, but will probably quit soon, getting to darn expensive as much as anything.

I often get vivid dreams, I don't think it's to do with the medication I take though.  My scary ones usually see me up on some precipice and in danger of falling.  This goes on and on until I have to wake myself up.  Usually tall buildings, elevators without sides, a strange bridge and other bizzare scenarios.  Sometimes my dreams are so good though, I wish I never woke up !

But yes dreams are really our first class ticket to a virtual reality.  Maybe if we could control our dreams more we wouldn't need all this hardware.

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Art

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I just finished watching a series on AI (the subject not the movie) and it mentioned a Doctor who discovered a portion of the human brain that controls various motor functions. Actually this area in the brain displays activity just split seconds before the firing of neurons for that area.

Soon he hopes to allow the patient to control various things like computer cusors, mechanical arms / limbs, etc., just by thinking about it! Very cool stuff.


In the world of AI, it's the thought that counts!

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Maviarab

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Watched a program over here very similar in nature Art, interesting and powerful stuff for the future.

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lrh9

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I just finished watching a series on AI (the subject not the movie) and it mentioned a Doctor who discovered a portion of the human brain that controls various motor functions. Actually this area in the brain displays activity just split seconds before the firing of neurons for that area.

Soon he hopes to allow the patient to control various things like computer cusors, mechanical arms / limbs, etc., just by thinking about it! Very cool stuff.




Perhaps this series is dated, because I watched a show very recently about brain computer interfaces and it had video depicting a paraplegic person using a brain computer interface to control a mouse among other software. Unfortunately I can't remember the name of the show, the channel it aired on, or the exact details about the research.

 


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