HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER YOU'VE ENTERED VIRTUAL REALITY
It was a pleasure to see "Virtual reality" (Cover Story, Oct. 5), which gave space to technical applications rather than just focusing on its use in entertainment. Many who follow engineering technology believe that, in just a few years, this will be a key element in the design process. The article makes a mistake by including examples of visualization and animation that have few, if any, characteristics of VR. A VR system involves the user's immersion in and interaction with the graphic image, not just viewing it on a display screen. This is a complex subject, and including non-VR examples confuses the issue and takes away from what will be one of the most exciting advances in computer technology over the next few years.
David E. Weisberg
Readers interested in your fascinating story on virtual reality would find one of my favorite novels great fun. Shepherd Mead's hilarious book The Big Ball of Wax: A Story of Tomorrow's Happy World, published in 1954, told of the massive effects of a virtual-reality-like device, "XP," combined with home TV, on American advertising and culture.
Since this is long out of print, readers should ask their public libraries to get it for them. Most libraries provide this service free of charge.
Marvin H. Scilken
Orange Public Library