What are the professional benefits to being able to inhabit a 3D virtual world? In addition to video games, several other fields have motivated the development of computer graphics. Prior to computer-aided design (CAD), architects and engineers spent many hours with pencil and paper to painstakingly draw accurate lines on paper. The computer has proved to be an indispensable tool for design. Data visualization has been a key use of computers over the past years. Examples are medical, scientific, and market data. With all of these uses, we are still forced to view designs and data sets by manipulating 2D projections on screens.
VR offers the ability to interact with and view 3D versions of a design or data set. This could be from the outside looking in, perhaps at the design of a new kitchen utensil. It could also be from the inside looking out, perhaps at the design of a new kitchen. If the perceptual concepts from Chapter 6 are carefully addressed, then the difference between the designed object or environment and the real one may be less than ever before. Viewing a design in VR can be considered as a kind of virtual prototyping, before a physical prototype is constructed. This enables rapid, low-cost advances in product development cycles.
A fundamental challenge to achieving VR-based design and visualization is the interaction mechanism. What will allow an architect, artist, game developer, movie set builder, or engineer to comfortably build 3D worlds over long periods of time? What tools will allow people to manipulate high-dimensional data sets as they project onto a 3D world?
Steven M LaValle 2016-12-31