"New Virtual World Order" IST Results (06/13/05) Alterne is an Information Society Technologies (IST) project that is working to make virtual reality technology more powerful, more flexible, and less expensive. Alterne coordinator Marc Cavazza says the project team wanted to revisit the original concept of virtual reality, which was to simulate alternative worlds, not produce realistic simulations. The project team has created software that allows a CAVE Immersive projection screen to run on PC clusters, enabling the system to use standard PC software such as the graphics-creation game engine used in first-person shooter video game Unreal Tournament. The Alterne research team has developed alternative reality software that has been placed atop the game engine, permitting the creation of new physical laws. "Our alternative reality software consists of a series of modules: those dealing with causality, those dealing with physical laws, and we also have modules which can be used to describe artificial life," says Cavazza. The virtual reality system has been designed so that additional modules that describe new effects can be added on an as-needed basis, meaning that the system's only limitations are "the processing power of the cluster and the imagination of the artist or computer scientist," Cavazza says. Cognitive scientists have expressed interest in using the system to help determine how the perception of cause and effect in humans works.
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