Expo/Theater/Virtual Environments

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Virtual Reality: Applications

U.S. Government and VR

Economic competitiveness. Social well being. What do they have to do with virtual reality? They are two of the main reasons the U.S. Congress recently passed two landmark computing bills that are becoming major forces driving the future of virtual reality. The High-Performance Computing and Communications Act of 1991 (HPCC) and the National Information Infrastructure Act of 1993 (NII) are part of a two-pronged approach for employing computers to help maintain the U.S.'s economic strength in a changing global economy.

High power, high speed

The High-Performance Computing and Communications Program builds the foundation of this approach. A major element is support for computationally-intensive basic research on Grand Challenges -- fundamental problems in science and engineering considered so complex as to be unsolvable without high-performance computers, such as understanding molecular structure and developing new materials.

The multiagency initiative also funds high-speed networking testbeds and the development of software and algorithms for efficiently harnessing the capabilities of high-performance computers. HPCC is essential for the success of NII.

Hard act to follow

The National Information Infrastructure applies the technology and expertise gained through HPCC to very real economic and social needs. These needs, or National Challenges, call for major improvements in:

VR for everyone

Maxine Brown, EVL/University of Illinois, on-camera
Movie/Sound Byte
QuickTime Movie (2.4 MB); Sound File (1.4 MB); Text

Virtual reality is one of the new visualization tools being applied to Grand and National Challenge research. In the coming decades, however, its applications will extend far beyond research. Weather forecasters, doctors, environmental biologists and chemists, students and educators -- all will rely increasingly on faster access to data and better tools to turn that data into knowledge. Helping to drive that development are the same Grand and National Challenges now being aided by VR.

In the following two documents you'll find some of the major applications now taking shape.

Grand Challenge Applications


National Challenge Applications

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NCSA & EVL. Last modified 10/24/95