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A bit of an oddity, this book. Right from the start, it derides VR interface hardware as expensive, niche and unnecessary, insisting you can achieve everything VR is good for, with a desktop PC and a mouse. Oookay.

Straight away then, the introduction warns that it will be using fishbowl VR for the rest of the book ? where you look in on the world through a monitor. No other interface technologies will be considered, whatsoever.

A direct quote from the book, outlines in perhaps the best way possible, this book?s focus:

VR is of enormous commercial importance in the computer games
industry and similar technology is often used in training simulations. Currently,
many academic disciplines are involved in developing and using
virtual worlds and this list includes geography (Brown, 1999; C?mara and
Raper, 1999; Martin and Higgs, 1997). The most obvious geographical
applications are in traditional cartography, for example, in creating navigable,
computer-generated block diagrams, and especially in the same
discipline re-invented as scientific visualization (Cartwright et al., 1999;
Hearnshaw and Unwin, 1994). Second, because of the importance of the
spatial metaphor in those worlds, basic concepts of cartographic visualization
of the world are fundamental to our ability to navigate and negotiate
almost any applications of VR. Basic geographical concepts have thus
much to contribute to the more general world of VR. Third, some geographers
are developing concepts that extend VR environments into completely
artificial realms such as abstract data realms (Harvey, Chapter 22)
and even completely imaginary, but interesting, AlphaWorlds (Dodge,
Chapter 21).


Clawing through that mess, we find that the best use for VR the authors could find, was cartography. Any attempt at creating alternate, virtual landscapes not based on actual physical locations, is dismissed almost out of hand as pure imagination ? although such worlds do have coverage, albeit brief, towards the end of the tome.

Thankfully, there is a saving grace to this book. It is very, very good at applying the concept of navigation to virtual spaces, and showcases many pitfalls, and ways to work around such. Unfortunately, for the previously mentioned reason, almost none of these techniques apply to immersive VR environs, as the authors simply do not believe there is a use for them.

The later chapters go on to discuss the uses of VR in modelling the human environment, natural environments, and anticipating changes, finally getting around to the use of VR of the title. Prior to this point, whole chapters were dedicated to stating what VR is, and what it is in the authors? opinion, not.

Overall, the book does have some good content, but you may have to deal with a fair amount of author prejudice, and beating around the bush before you get to it.

Not recommended.

 

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