Dec 30, 2006

Neuronet - The Matrix is here?

The Matrix films have been ridiculed by many people to be an impossible scenario- with machines enslaving human beings and feeding off our body heat to keep us immersed in a virtual world. Well, they have not mastered us yet, but a recent announcement from the International Association of Virtual Reality Technologies could indicate the birth of a more Matrix-like Internet.

Called the Neuronet, scheduled to go live in 2007, the network would provide a platform for virtual reality and gaming innovators around the world to develop applications for a second-generation network.

Virtual reality refers to computing systems which provide sensory feedback to the user to make her feel like she is actually in a different environment. For example, flight simulators are examples of virtual reality environments where a trainee pilot can learn the nuances of flight training before actually flying a multi-mllion dollary aircraft.

Although much cruder than the versions depcited in sci-fi movies like the Matrix, virtual reality is all set to grow in the coming years with quantum improvements in computing power and network bandwidth.

The Neuronet would be separate from the current Internet, the IAVRT announcement explains. Virtual reality programs like IBM's Second Life has become very popular among its members, where they can actually live out a virtual life.

3D designer Sven Johnson has questioned the "reality" of the virtual reality network, saying that it could be a "get-rich-quick" scam funded by domain name sales. (link)

Scam or not, it is only a matter of time before virtual reality environments become more possible and inviting to the masses. Even now, the chore of getting online, checking your mail and IMs, hanging around in a social networking site, etc. is considered by some to be "virtual reality". Where "real" ends and "virtual" begins is becoming a tougher question to answer.

CNET article

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