Vir­tu­al envi­ron­ments are the assem­bly of a vari­ety of hard­ware and soft­ware tech­nolo­gies with the pur­pose of immers­ing the user with­in an inter­ac­tive com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed illu­sion. Due to the nature of the tech­nolo­gies, this illu­sion is a first-per­son ego­cen­tric view of an envi­ron­ment that is “life-like” in scale, behav­iour and inter­ac­tion. For exam­ple, when one turns one’s head, the graph­ics and audio “move” as the real world does nor­mal­ly. Ide­al­ly this illu­sion cre­ates, for the par­tic­i­pant, a sense of “pres­ence”, such that they believe, they can, and they do inter­act with this illu­sion in a sim­i­lar man­ner to what they would do if expe­ri­enc­ing a sim­i­lar real situation.


There is a long tech­ni­cal his­to­ry to such illu­sions but there is also a cor­re­spond­ing­ly long devel­op­ment of an under­stand­ing about how and why such illu­sions occur. Vir­tu­al envi­ron­ments are thus an excit­ing tech­nol­o­gy to study in and of them­selves, because they cre­ate inter­est­ing illu­sions, but our group is more inter­est­ed in what types of tech­nol­o­gy and media most eas­i­ly cre­ate this illu­sions. Our group’s own under­stand­ing of pres­ence has evolved over time, as we have built bet­ter tech­nol­o­gy, but more impor­tant­ly as we’ve learned how to start mea­sur­ing respons­es of users.