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Of course, a number of interfaces exist which are specifically geared towards the VR
market. Head-tracking displays generally resemble helmets (although some smaller head-
mounted interfaces more closely resemble a large pair of sunglasses), and contain small,
high-resolution monitors which are necessarily positioned close to the user's eyes.
Data gloves contain sensors which pass over joints in the user's hand to measure the
position of the fingers and hand across six axes.The user's movements are translated into
coordinates using devices called trackers, are the resulting data are then fed back to the
computer so that the model of the virtual world can be updated.
Projected systems, found most often in larger museums, take an image of the user's
motions and display this image alongside other images on an oversized screen.Virtual
reality simulators, commonly found in video gaming arcades as well as airline flight train-
ing, take this approach one step further.They employ a combination of display monitors
and movable `pods' to create increasingly realistic experiences by adding the capacity for
motion to the VR equation.
Staff and policy issues
The introduction of virtual reality and/or other display technologies are unlikely to
have any effect on an organisation's policies or strategic arrangements.The pressing issue
for CH organisations is overwhelmingly likely to be that of staff experience and training.
For many cultural heritage applications of VR technologies, dedicated staff will be
required to construct the actual models.This is a specialised task, and funds must be set
aside for in-depth training of existing staff or bringing in external expertise from a dedi-
cated consultant/programmer.This can be expensive, both in terms of money and of lost
working time when members of staff are kept away from their regular duties. Sending
staff on training courses can be very expensive, and the usefulness of independent
learning aids such as VRML author Chris Marrin's book Teach Yourself VRML 2.0 in 21
Days, and other tutorial material available free-of-charge on the Web should be investi-
gated prior to this.The Authors' experience of the current generation of online learning
materials is very positive.
Virtual reality need not be an overly expensive business, and useful models can be
built by small teams or individuals.The fundamental issue is to settle upon a required
end-result prior to beginning development, and the choice of technology used will be of
key importance.
Virtual Reality and
Display Technologies