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StereoGraphics' SynthaGram is an Autostereoscopic display.

This body suit was introduced to the market in the early '90s.

This is a schematic representation of a CAVE. courtesy EVL, Chicago, IL, USA.

The Haptic Workstation from Immersion provides two-handed Force Feedback along with a Head-Mounted Display.

This is a mechanical Position Tracker from shooting Star Technology


A Glossary Of VR Terms

Click here for the CEJ DOA (Dictionary of Acronyms).

3D: Three dimensional, having the atributes of a solid object.

3D Controller: A device that provides the user of a visual simulation the ability to navigate within the 3D space and also to control the simulation, typically through a menuing system or defined keys.

3D Sound: Sound which is produced so that it seems to come from various spatial locations. It is typically produced with only two speakers, such as those in headphones. See Spatialized Sound, below.

Autostereoscopic display: A display system that presents binocularly disparate images that create the illusion of a 3D scene. See also Stereoscopic Display, below.

Bit: The smallest unit of information in a digital computer: 1 or 0. Eight bits make up one byte. The number of bits used to record information, or used in one CPU processing cycle, indicates the level of detail of the information, or the relative speed of the CPU. For example, an 8-bit display system can show 256 colors at one time, while a 16-bit system will display 16,384 colors. An 8-bit CPU (such as the Zylog Z80) processes one fourth as much information as a 32-bit CPU (Intel 30386) in each clock cycle.

Bitmap: A 2D image composed of a pattern of dots (ones & zeros), as represented in a computer memory.

Body Suit: Full-body-covering clothing interfaced to a computer system to allow the wearer to interact with cyberspace.

Cartesian Space: A coordinate system, measured in three axis (X, Y, Z), used to describe the position of an object in a 3D space. X & Y coordinates are sufficient to describe a point in a 2D space. (After Rene Descartes)

CAVE: A multi-walled enclosure in which the walls are rear-projection screens. The user enters the space defined by the enclosure in order to interact with a visual simulation.

Cyberdeck: The machinery which creates and maintains cyberspace. (Obs.)

Cybernetics: The study of communication and control processes. Often used to indicate a conceptual connection to or control by computers.

Cyberspace: A virtual space, occupied by one or more human beings, created and maintained by computers and other machinery.

DataGlove: Trademark of VPL Research Inc. for their input glove. Becoming a generic term for Input Glove (See Glove, Input.)

Database: The collection of information that describe a virtual world, the simulation rules, etc.

EyePhone: Trademark of VPL Research Inc. for their stereo-optic, head mounted display system.

Field of View (FOV): The area seen. The area displayed in an HMD.

Force Feedback (FFB): The simulation of weight or resistance in a virtual world. (Compare to Tactile Feedback.) Force feedback requires a device which produces a force on the body equivalent (or scaled) to that of a real object. It allows a person in cyberspace to feel the weight of virtual objects, or the resistance to motion that they create.

Geometry: The description of an object in terms of its dimensions.

Glove, Input: The glove used to measure the flexure of the hand and relative positions of the fingers and input that data to the computer mediating a virtual world. Brand names include DataGlove (VPL Research), CyberGlove (Virtex Virtual Technology), Dexterous HandMaster (EXOS), PowerGlove (Mattel Toys) and others.

Graphics Accelerator: An image generator (see below). Typically low-cost, for use in a personal computer.

Head Mounted Display (HMD): A device, which is fastened to the head, and used to display a computer-generated scene. A Head Mounted Display typically provides a stereo-optic (3D) view through the use of two LCD or small CRT displays. Brand names include EyePhone (VPL Research), Visette (W-Industries), Private Eye (Reflection Technologies) and others.

Hypermedia: Electronic media containing links to other sections, works, or media, allowing instant cross-referencing and digression (Like this Web document, for example).

Image Generator: A specialized computer sub-system responsible for preparing images for display on an output device.

Interpupilary distance (IPD): The distance between the pupils of the eyes.

Joystick, 3D: A joystick is a control device, often attached to a fixed base, for controlling computers or machines by moving in 2 dimensions (forward/back, right/left) on its base. A 3D joystick adds control in the third dimension (up/down) and may be free or fixed.

Modeling Software: The software used to create 3D models of objects for inclusion in animations or virtual worlds
Multimedia: Typically, a presentation blending of text, graphics, audio and video from various sources. May be computer augmented and/or controlled. A sub-set of Hypermedia.

Multiprocessor: A computer using more than one CPU to share computing work. See Parallel Processor.

Multitasking: A method of performing several processes on one CPU by sequentially switching between them.

Parallel Processor: A multiprocessor computer system which breaks work into many parts which are distributed among many CPUs.

Pod: Capsule or cabin designed to hold one or more players in a simulation or VR-based game. Typically a pod includes connections for I/ O devices such as HMDs, headphones, joysticks, etc.

PowerWall™: A large-screen display system, typically using several projectors, that allows detailed viewing and group interaction with a visual simulation. Typically used with stereoscopic displays and 3D controllers.

Real Time: Seeming to happen in the actual moment of perception. In relation to computing systems, this implies processing times and delays so small as to be imperceptible to human beings.

Runtime Software: The software that ties together the parts of a synthetic environment, including the simulation, rendering, and interaction.

Spatialized Sound: Sound which is produced so that it seems to come from various spatial locations. It is typically produced with only two speakers, such as those in headphones.

Stereoscopic display: A display system that in one of various techniques, provides a different view to each of the user’s eyes, simulating a true three-dimensional image.

Synthetic Environment: See Virtual Reality.

Teledildonics: Remote sexual experience mediated by computing systems. Hypothetical.

Tactile Feedback (TFB): Sensation applied to the skin, typically in response to contact or other actions in a virtual world. (Compare to Force Feedback.) Tactile Feedback can be used to produce a symbol, like Braille, or simply a sensation that indicates some condition.

Telepresence: The ability to act and interact in a distant environment through cybernetic technology. The electronic analog to an out-of-body experience.

Trackers, Position: Devices which report the location of objects in the real world to computers controlling virtual worlds. Typically, position trackers are attached to head mounted displays (see above) and to input gloves. Position trackers work via various technologies, including direct connection, magnetic sensing, acoustic or optical tracking. Manufacturers include Ascension Technology, Logitech, Polhemus, Shooting Star Technology, and others.

Virtual Reality (VR), Virtual Environment (VE), Artificial Reality (AR), Synthetic Environment (SE): That sense of place and being which exists in cyberspace. Artificial Reality implies non-immersion technology, such as Myron Kreuger’s Video Place. Virtual Reality commonly implies full-immersion technologies using goggles and similar devices. Virtual Environment and Synthetic Environment are terms typically used by the US Defense Department and Space Agency and carrying the same essential meaning.

There is a three-part test for Virtual Reality:

  1. It is a computer-mediated experience.
  2. The objects in the virtual world are modeled using 3D modeling techniques.
  3. The system provides random interactivity.

Virtual: Existing in essence or effect, but not in actual fact.

Visual Simulation (VizSim): The use of a graphics interface to interact in real time with a simulation running on one or more computer systems.

Workstation: Personal computing system optimized for high performance. Typically workstations include high performance, high resolution graphics display systems, and use the UNIX operating system. Workstations are typically considered to be more powerful than PCs, but that difference is fading quickly.


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