Alice Symposium Keynote Speaker
Are We All Cyborg's?
June 17, 2009
Through texting, social networking sites and on-line games (i.e.
instant messaging / facebook / second life / world of warcraft)
students can become addicted to communicating and living through
computational technologies. How does this technical competency
translate into interest in engineering? science? or mathematics? As
educators, it's our responsibility to "lift the lid" on these
applications and engage students in the wonder of creating your own
game, discovering a new chemical result, or develop a clever
mathematical puzzle. One idea is to expose students to technologies
which are just as compelling but are not quite as polished. Even
though the field of virtual reality (VR) can be traced back to 1916,
it is still in it's infancy. Only limited by a person's imagination,
new user interface devices and gadgets, such as the WII, are easy to
design, create, and incorporate into a novel experience. Fortunately,
just as the media began to discover the potential of VR in 1990, web
browsers came along in 1994 and saved the field from being over
hyped. This has allowed engineers and computer scientists to continue
working in relative obscurity and discover which applications are best
suited to VR solutions. In this talk, I will briefly cover the
history of virtual reality and show some applications where virtual
reality has made a significant contribution to science and medicine.
I will also discuss how virtual reality extends our concepts of
virtual worlds, computer games, and visualization, and pose some
questions on what it means to live in a computational society. Let's
admit that we are already Cyborgs and move onto designing a human-
computer interface which requires greater physical movement than
typing on a keyboard.