An artificial environment
created with computer hardware
and presented to the user
in such a way that it appears and feels like a real environment. To “enter” a virtual reality, a user dons special gloves, earphones, and goggles, all of which receive their input
from the computer system
. In this way, at least three of the five senses are controlled by the computer
. In addition to feeding sensory input to the user, the devices
the user’s actions. The goggles, for example, track how the eyes move and respond accordingly by sending new video input.
To date, virtual reality systems require extremely expensive hardware and software and are confined mostly to research laboratories.
The term virtual reality is sometimes used more generally to refer to any virtual world represented in a computer, even if it’s just a text-based or graphical representation.