Many researchers are beginning to explore
the potential of ubiquitous computing technologies
and applications in the home environment. Discuss
how the application themes of context-awareness, automated
capture and the continuous interaction of everyday
computing is relevant to domestic life. Focus your
answer on the challenges of family life or life for
an aging population.
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Virtual reality has found a number of
applications in the games market. Is this a suitable
use of such technology? Discuss the possible benefits
and disadvantages of exploiting leading-edge technology
in a leisure market.
The leisure market is important to the
computer industry and, being commercially lucrative,
can provide an impetus for development which can then
be exploited in other spheres.
If virtual reality takes off in games
it will result in the development of cheaper equipment
and more robust techniques, since the games customer
tends to be young (and not overly rich) but with sophisticated
expectations. Indeed, many research projects in universities
are currently using equipment developed specifically
for games, since the more powerful, general purpose
equipment is prohibitively expensive.
Another possible advantage is that it
makes the technology familiar and therefore accessible
A possible disadvantage is that the use
of this technology in games may trivialize it so that
it is not considered as a serious solution to other
more weighty problems. However, this seems less likely
than the advantages outlined above.
Data visualization techniques have often
increased our comprehension of phenomena: consider
the effect that 3D graphics has had on looking at
complex models such as those of the atmosphere or
the ocean, or in understanding the structure of molecules.
What do you consider to be the areas that may benefit
most from virtual reality visualization techniques?
This exercise could be expanded to allow
students to carry out a brief literature review on
the applications of virtual reality techniques. In
general they are most promising in areas that cannot
be explored in reality, either because it is physically
impossible (such as in the manipulation of molecules
discussed in Section 20.3.2) or physically dangerous,
as in space. Models can be physically manipulated
and interacted with using virtual reality methods
rather than simply observed. Chemical and medical
research, meteorology, oceanography, seismology are
all areas that could benefit from such techniques.