Is Virtual Reality in Space the next big thing?

Virtual Reality (VR) is an experience of an artificial environment which resembles the physical reality. It immerses the user by incorporating the human senses, using familiar surroundings and various objects which can be interacted with.

Virtual exploration and research in the fields of astronomy and aerospace started with NASA creating a virtual visual environment in the 1960s by pasting images of the surface of the moon from Surveyor 1 on large spherical shells. The onset of the usage of virtual reality for planetary research was in 1985 at the NASA AMES Research Center. CAVE (Cave Automatic Virtual Environment) system was created in the 1990s in which a 3D environment is projected onto the walls and floor of a room constructed from screens.

The user wears glasses and a location sensor so that the projection of the environment moves in respect to the user. ADVISER (Advanced Visualization in Solar System Exploration and Research) was a CAVE system developed with an objective to immerse the user to visualize and scientifically analyse Mars and further explore it. In 1993, NASA started to use VR to train astronauts for Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVA) which prepares them for space walks.

They are also trained to use a jet backpack called Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) which is used when an astronaut gets disconnected from the International Space Station (ISS). Real time VR is also used to carry out procedures using robonauts at the ISS while Mission ISS is a VR system which gives a virtual trip of the ISS. ANSIBLE (A Network of Social Interactions for Bilateral Life Enhancement) is a social communication system for astronauts at the ISS.

It uses Attention Restoration Theory (ART) which talks about how natural surroundings help to reduce stress levels and increase the focus of an individual by simulating natural environments. According to a study conducted by NASA’s Human Research Program comparing the crew members who used conventional asynchronous communication methods (i.e. email, recorded video and voice messages) and crew members who used ANSIBLE felt closer and satisfied with their family and friends. At present, there are limitations to use VR in space exploration such as time lag.

Despite these challenges, the experience of being in space can become more realistic with VR by extending its usage for unmanned spaceflights.

The article is been written by Achintya Chaudhary, an NMIMS School of Design student, under the mentorship of Dr. Shreya Maulik and Prof. Aswin.

Virtual Reality: The Avant-Garde of Film-Making

With cutting edge technology heading for a redundant approach, Virtual Reality (VR) even in its nascent stages displays potential to provide a new direction and hope for a pleasantly progressive respite. The adaptive expectations of the general consumer successively set benchmarks for the technological industry to achieve. The simulation of artificial environments that stimulate the five senses – auditory, visual, gustatory, olfactory and somatosensory enhance user experience and facilitate the manipulation of reality on a virtual platform.

It discards the idea of theoretically centered knowledge and gives more preference to practicality and exposure. These factors work in favour of revolutionizing the nucleus of every industry that Virtual Reality is successfully implemented in. This article aims at enlightening the reader on the various pros and cons of using Virtual Reality in film-making.

One industry that welcomes experimentation to nurture its growth is that of film-making. Conventional methods convey the message and create an impact on the viewers however the experience is not as immersive as what Virtual Reality is capable of providing. Film-makers at the forefront of advancing technology have readily embraced and incorporated the use of Virtual Reality in their process of film-making.

However, similar to other areas of technology, a film-maker must consider various factors before deciding on Virtual Reality as his medium of storytelling. Even though such movies are exorbitant for both the film-maker and the viewers, it’s pros tend to eventually outweigh its cons. The striking visuals and cinematography combined with the immersive tinge of Virtual Reality is a treat that when shot effectively will create a deep psychological impact on its viewers. In various cases, this powerful tool has broadened the horizons of its viewers and supported various noble causes (Eha, B. 2015).

Thus Virtual Reality in film-making is an art that encompasses both time and space. It is not a substitute for 2D OR 3D formats but a powerful medium to create immersive worlds and landscapes. It is a tool with the potential to break barriers. It is important to be experimental in an industry as dynamic as film-making since a lack of experimentation will lead to a stagnant approach causing it to eventually die out.

Even though it has its fair share of disadvantages, its pros outweigh them to make it worth the effort and money invested in bringing the effect of Virtual Reality as opposed to the conventional modes of film-making.

The article is been written by Vedant Narendra Dhairyawan, an NMIMS School of Design student, under the mentorship of Dr. Shreya Maulik and Prof. Aswin.

Perils of Artificial Intelligence in Cars

Artificial Intelligence or ‘AI’ is the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks of intelligent beings (Copeland, 2018). Artificial Intelligence has gained popularity in the automobile industry introducing driverless and self-driving cars as well as virtual assistants in the car. The development of AI has progressed and now driverless autos have turned into a reality.

Most self-driving cars have a Global Positioning System, GPS unit and a scope of sensors. These enable the auto to construct a guide and decide its best route without hazardous moves. The moves are then bolstered into the actuators which handle controlling, throttle, and braking. At a particular time, if any function fails to perform, it causes major risk to the user as well as the surroundings.

Introduction of these cars has many drawbacks to it, the most basic one being elimination of many jobs in the transportation sector. This could have a negative impact on the unemployment rate and the economy (Auto Insurance Centre, 2018).

Self-driving cars can be hacked similarly to any other processing gadget. There is a plausibility of terror attacks where the oppressor could access a self-governing vehicle and utilize it as a weapon. Overwhelming precipitation meddles with the laser sensors and snow can cause disturbance in the camera view. Mishaps caused by such vehicles are additionally hard to examine as there is nobody particular to consider in charge of the harm.

Cars equipped with artificial intelligence work only on well-marked roads. Thus, unpaved roads with no on-road signals are dangerous. Paved roads too have faded paint, obscured signs and unusual intersections that will be an issue. Reading human behaviour such as hand signals is also a task for the developing technology. It’s an algorithmic nightmare to see cars sliding, swerving in and out and speeding up unexpectedly. While autonomous cars are constantly analysing the changes, they lack the basic emotional intelligence to understand what to do.

The increase in data and guidance provided to the newly developed technologies imposes a risk on humanity. A popular word—singularity—has been coined to describe the moment when machines become smarter, and maybe more powerful than humans. (Miller, 2018) The singularity is a point in the future, an event horizon of sorts, where humans no longer have control of technology. It will be under the control of a superior artificial intelligence. (Techopedia, 2018)

The article is been written by Rhythm Gauba, an NMIMS School of Design student, under the mentorship of Prof. Poornima Nair.

Can Augmented Reality and Architecture come together?

“I am thrilled about Augmented reality, because unlike virtual reality, it does not shut the world outside. Augmented reality allows the person to be present in the world and an advancement on what is presently happening.” (Tim Cook)

Augmented reality also known as AR, is interactive in nature and has a reality-based display environment that has the power of a computer generating display, sound, text and effects to improve the user’s experience in the real world. Comparing it to virtual reality, augmented reality does not replace the natural habitat like virtual reality does, instead it adds onto the simple real environment bringing the digital world into it. These advantages of AR lead to more and specific applications providing benefit to the users in entertainment, gaming, architecture, military training, engineering design, business improvements and navigation and tourism.

The biggest impacts of Augmented reality are on the Architecture and construction industries. It helps designers as well as architects know how their projects would appear on the sites. Since a lot of people have trouble visualising, AR has benefitted with the visualisation of a 2D object in 3D, in actual environment. An example is of the engineers and architects in Christchurch, New Zealand where an app called CityViewAR is used after an earthquake, to plan and rebuild the demolished buildings of real size throughout the city (Heimgartner, 2016).

Architectural software companies such as CAD (Computer-Aided-Design) and BIM (Building-Information-Modelling) have been welcoming AR in their software solutions. It uses augment reality software’s such as Autodesk, Bentley systems, Vectorworks and Sketchup which further includes smart reality, augment, pair, LORAR+ and view AR. AR is also considered as a design approach for interior designing. In a real-life environment, AR can be used to display virtual furniture, change wall colours and then modify it in real time on the screen. One can take a picture of their living room and bring in a variety of couches to see which one looks the best.

Today, Augmented Reality has been incorporated into many different aspects of our lives. It has also proven its benefits for the field of architecture, construction industries and BIM. The new uses for AR are still being developed and making the technology easier and far-reaching in terms of software, hardware and cost. Such AR innovations help in bringing architecture forward. In reality, the advancement of the Augmented Reality technology is heading in the direction to revolutionize and better the way we live.

The article is been written by Rhea Agarwal Churi, an NMIMS School of Design student, under the mentorship of Dr Shreya Maulik and Prof. Aswin.