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V
IRTUAL
R
EALITY AND
D
ISPLAY
T
ECHNOLOGIES
Executive Summary
Virtual Reality (VR) technology has already been used to great effect in certain
heritage areas, most notably and most successfully in theatre studies and archaeological
reconstructions of non-standing or partially standing structures and buildings. Given its
enormous potential as a training aid,Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML) has
also been widely-used in other, more physically dangerous sectors, such as engineering
and the military, for a number of years. It has revolutionised working practices of archi-
tects and designers. Optimism is high for the future of VR and other three-dimensional
(3D) technologies in cultural and other sectors. Further adventurous applications of VR
technology are envisioned for future use in institutions such as museums and visitor cen-
tres, as well as in innovative and adventurous performance pieces.
The uses of VR and other 3D technologies have traditionally been constrained by the
great demands they are likely to place on computer hardware and memory. As processor
speeds increase and the cost of memory falls, the possible results will become ever more
impressive, immersive, interactive and involving. It is also anticipated that high-quality,
high-specification,Web-based VR will be with us sooner rather than later, bringing
accomplished 3D into the home as well as the institution.
This report focuses primarily on VR technology, treating it as representative of 3D
technologies in general, since much of what is said of VR in terms of benefits and draw-
backs can often be applied to these other technologies with co-equal validity. Other
technologies such as QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR), Rich Media 3D (RM3D) and the
new Extensible 3D language (X3D) are also covered, with the specific benefits and draw-
backs of individual technologies and techniques outlined and examined in the appropri-
ate sections.
Featured heritage case studies in this Section include the European Commission's
THEATRON project, Italy's Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, and the Greek
ARCHEOGUIDE initiative.
Virtual Reality and
Display Technologies
95
Consiglio Nazionale dellle Ricer
c
he, Italy