(03/07/10: I know have a proper definition for VR)
(19/04/09: Hey people who come directly to this particular post, tell me where do you come from? =)
Sorry about the lack of updates, I have lots of excuses for that =)
First it seems nothing much exciting or very new is happening these days (or I’m missing it). Then we’ve been working quite hard (as usual of course) to get you a brand new release of 3DVia MP, Virtools big brother. I have revamped the device manager so that it’s much more powerful and will provide better support for VR devices in the future 😉
We also received a nice big screen for stereoscopic projection and 6 NaturalPoint Optitrack cameras for tracking, but we’re still waiting for the projectors :-/ I’ll make a review of the cameras quite soon.
Virtual Reality ?
Back to the topic : Google is launching “Lively“, another 3d personnal space, and everyone is calling it Virtual Reality (resulting in pollution of my VR GoogleAlerts).
I think I need to clarify what VR is for me and I think for the majority of the VR scientific and industrial community. I’ve been wanting to do that for quite some time, so what better place than here, what better time than now? (c) “Rage against the machine”.
I’m not going to give a full definition of VR, just quickly what makes “my” VR different than the “marketing” VR.
Executive summary: Quicktime VR, Second Life and Google Lively are not VR.
Executive summary of the conclusion: maybe “my” VR should change its name. Check the last paragraph for a suggestion.
I’m allowing myself to call it “my” VR since it’s such a big part of my life 😉 Here are examples of “my” VR.
The term VR was invented when computer dinosaurs still walked the earth and Jaron Lanier created a dataglove to manipulate a 3D World.
As often described by professionals, “my” VR involves 3 important points : realtime rendering, interaction, immersion.
– Realtime rendering : you get the idea, a movie can’t be VR (even though one day maybe…)
– Interaction : you must be able to interact with the virtual environment. This rules out Quicktime VR and any kind of panoramic virtual tour as being part of “my” VR. Ok you can move the point of view, but it still doesn’t has the next point.
– Immersion : that’s a tough point. Lots of people would argue that you could get immersed in SL or WoW, but that’s degree zero of immersion. If you’ve ever been in a Cave and felt the way I felt, it’s like comparing a kiss to the kamasutra!
I think I’ll add a fourth point because I feel its another important and distinctive feature :
– Natural interaction, body interaction : remember what it was when you first touched a keyboard or a mouse (or watch your parents now); that’s not natural. Natural interaction enforces immersion, and with “my” VR, moving an object is as simple as grabbing it and moving it with my hand, as you would for a real object. Zero learning because you’re using what you’ve learned in the real life! Your whole body is acting, and that’s why you’re interacting naturally, why you’re feeling immersed. Your body is not engaged when using SL, Livery or Quicktime VR!
All the people calling their application Virtual Reality are trying to represent an alternate reality, and I can’t take that away from them. If you take the term in a broad sense, they’re totally entitled to do so since there is no reason it should be restricted to the use of a group. They’re also trying to use the hype that VR generally generates among mortals. Fair enough.
So we’re all doing VR!
Immersive Virtuality ?
It seems we won’t be able to prevent people from using this term, so maybe we should try to evolve and choose a new name for our field.
David Nahon, the Dassault Systèmes VR boss (and my boss) suggests using Immersive Virtuality, which does a good job at explaining the difference with “my” VR and the “marketing” VR. We could at least add Immersive to VR, making it Immersive Virtual Reality and not losing the VR letters..
So, what do you think ?