Center for NanoSpace Technologies, Inc.

Technologies for the Future ....

 
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Outreach

 

One project within the Outreach Division is to Design and develop Virtual Reality Hubs in different locations around the state of Texas.  Two will probably be sufficient with the first one located at The Center home base.   This will be an important phase as these hubs will create the true IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE of Virtual Reality that will become the entertainment and learning centers.

 

The present use of Virtual Reality by the entertainment business is limited to Platform rides that create a feeling of entering the video screen.  True Virtual Reality with the TOTAL IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE will be the next cycle in this decade.

 

A team will be created to explore the possible partnering of Universities where the technology is being studied to create these virtual hubs in major markets.  To use them as educational scenarios on a time sharing partnership, with entertainment corporations partnering and using their time- shares to develop Immersive entertainment experiences.  The concept will take us to the next level of the paradigm shift to create any experience on or off planet that will involve the total sensory output of the human.  Studies have proven that we learn at a faster pace when all our sensory apparatus is involved.  Challenging the mind only has limits that keep us in the present cycle of the learning paradigm.

 

The first hub will be the most expensive in the project, as the model.  The programs designed to engage the public in this first hub, can be shared with all the others around the globe.  This will stretch the investment principle to reach the masses. 

 

Combining the finest minds in the newest virtual and nanotechnology fields of study enhances our perception and probable paths of success.  The following report on Virtual Reality Technology will delineate the differences in the areas that are now being utilized by the current culture.  Taking our project to the next level with these learning hubs will be a major challenge that changes society in every manner of thought, action and purpose. 

 

The human being is intensely visual - most of our information comes from visual image that are interpreted by the brain, our onboard computer. Virtual Reality is the next major step in making the results of computer manipulation easy for the human brain to interpret.  It allows you to step through the computer screen into a 3-D simulated world.  With the special goggles anything is possible.  You become a part of your simulated creation.  Everything is potentially alive because the laws of reality are up to the designer.

 

The desire to have immersive experiences, the ticket to enter another world, is an age-old desire.  We have been moving steadily towards more participation in imaginative worlds.  Until recently, the movie technology had been stuck at the level of the 1940’s while the computer pioneers stepped through the looking glass by understanding interaction with dynamic responsive artificial worlds. 

 

A virtual world is part animation, part computer aided design and lots of imagination.  Every virtual reality experience is an educational experience.  You see things in new ways and learn by using multiple senses: hearing, sight, movement, and sensation. 

 

Virtual reality is all about illusion, a new media for getting your hands on information getting inside information and representing ideas in ways not previously possible.  It is inclusion being surrounded by an environment. It places the participant inside the information.

 

As a guideline, a virtual reality system must have the three following characteristics: response to user’s action, real time 3-D graphics and a sense of immersion.  Current immersive systems stimulate your visual and aural senses so you feel yourself immersed in a computer generated experience.  Our current implementations fall short of a total sensory immersion which theoretically would include temperature, tactile sensations, bodily movement, sounds, images, and odors.  Few of these senses are understood well enough to allow a computer to re-create them.  This is the area of development in our upcoming creations. The next level might be total sensory immersion.

 

Presently there are six types of environments in use.  The following will be short descriptions of the normal applications. 

 

Cab Simulators: 

Flight simulators for airplane pilots were the original applications. The user sits in a box that resembles a cockpit.  The windows are replaced with high-resolution computer screens. In some cases the entire pod is bolted onto a moving platform to simulate flight movement.  The surround sound effects help create a very realistic thrilling interactive experience.  This original version, is the platform virtual experience that you find in most amusement parks and the entertainment industry.  You can see by the following applications, that we are still at the beginning stages of usage in the virtual experience that is available to the public.

 

Projected Reality: 

Videoplace by Myron Krueger is an example of a projected environment called artificial reality. It uses two rooms with wall sized video screens, a computer and video camera which displays colorized silhouettes of users on the screen. This allows the user to watch themselves projected into a virtual world as opposed to seeing a world through the eyes of a computer.

   

Another example of projected reality is the Mandala Machine, created by the Vivid Group, which overlays the real video images of the user onto an artificial world of computer graphics.

 

Augmented Reality: 

This application uses special transparent head mounted displays onto which data, diagrams, animation and 3-D graphics can be projected to aid people who need to simultaneously be in the real world and be able to access additional data to do their jobs.

 

Telepresence: 

This method uses video camera and remote microphones to immerse users so deeply as to project them into a different place.  NASA-Ames uses this type for Robotic control in planetary exploration. This has potential uses for surgeons to “go inside” patients to direct their surgical work.

 

Desk-top Virtual Reality: 

This is a substitute of the traditional systems where a head mounted display, a large computer monitor or projection system is used to present the virtual world. This is a popular choice for business users due to the inadequacies of existing head-mounted displays.

 

Visually Coupled Displays: 

This class of immersive systems is most often discussed by the media.  It involves placing a head mounted display directly in front of the users eyes and coupling head movements with the displayed image and stereo headphones.  By tracking where the viewer is looking it is possible to create a computer-generated world of virtual reality.

 

Virtual Reality is the place where humans and computers make contact.  In moving towards developing total immersion we have to ask "What is the value?" 

 

One powerful known effect is its ability to focus your attention, block out distractions and be selective on the information with which you want to work. The power to concentrate seems to be a prerequisite for highly creative intelligent people.  It is a powerful lens for extracting knowledge from data by turning it into an experience.  The potential exists for uncovering secrets long buried in an avalanche of data.

 

Immersion can be traced as far back as the ceremonial caves of pre-historic humans.  Youngsters were brought into the darkness of painted caves, where stories were told, and images and songs were revealed in precise sequence as they became immersed in their coming - of -age ceremonies. Only by shutting out the rest of the world and immersing themselves in this separate space, could the learning occur that changed a child into an adult.

 

Interactivity, like immersion is a crucial aspect of Virtual Reality.  These are two unique aspects to interactivity: navigation within the world and the dynamics of the environment.  Constraints can be set by the software developers for access to certain virtual areas, allowing various degrees of freedom you can fly, move through walls, walk around or swim. 

Another aspect of navigation is the positioning for the user’s point of view. It might mean watching yourself from a distance, viewing a scene through someone else’s eyes, or moving through the design of a new building as if in a wheelchair, waist high to test if it really will be wheel chair accessible.

 

The dynamics of an environment are the rules for how its contents (people, rocks, doors, etc.) interact in order to exchange energy or information.  Every object and its relationship to every other object is a design element at the discretion of the developer including the plasticity of walls, laws of gravity, etc.  It is this flexibility for creating and representing responsive environments that created the excitement about Virtual reality.

 

Because virtual reality can incorporate events, symbols and media from other forms of communication in addition to re-creating what’s in your mind, virtual reality mirrors back how your mind works.  Virtual reality might not only change the way we communicate and perceive but also the way we think.  This is a Meta-language, like mathematics that allows us to share ideas and thoughts across cultures and languages by communicating in the most natural human form of all...human sensory language of reality.

 

The term virtual reality doesn’t do justice to what the art form can accomplish. Each creation is a designed experience and each experience is a learning situation.  Virtual reality will change the way we think as it turns our thoughts into commodities and artifacts we can copy, share or sell to others.  It will shape our notions of community, self, space and time.

 

After reviewing this information, the reader should better understand why all of our presentation in the Space Station Learning Module Resource Network must be created and designed with this technology.  They must be updated periodically as the technology improves and changes.  Our children will be the designers some day of all their realities and this is an important tool for them to be in the forefront of education.  Immersive experiences will teach them faster and advance them further while they are enjoying the information.  They become the education.  We are coming full circle in how we will teach.  The ancients and indigenous cultures of the world taught their young with hands on experiential learning.  Not many words were said, they taught by allowing the young to apprentice and do the actual work or craft.

 

Research has already proven, we can learn much quicker from experiences than from books, and our idea is to explore all the senses in the learning experience.  Teaching will become “being”. This is the ultimate teaching method to explore now while NASA is still in the public domain.  Mandates to privatize the Space programs have been handed down, and many departments are in the process of expediting these changes.  Partnering with them for technology now is the goal.