Will Our Day-to-Day Lives Become a Virtual Reality?
Byline: By Shahid Naqvi Education Correspondent
Business meetings, socialising and even holiday-making are all likely to take place in a virtual universe in the future.
Far from being the stuff of science fiction, it's a scenario that in the fast-evolving digital age is already happening, claim academics.
And they believe the move towards virtual worlds is set to be further fuelled by fears over climate change and leaps in technology.
One Midland boffin claimed the lucrative computer games industry - where sophisticated worlds are already routinely created - will be the driving force behind this trend.
Professor Bob Stone, a psychologist and expert in interactive multi-media at the University of Birmingham, said: "As people spend more and more time in front of computers we believe the exploitation of games technology is going to make a major impact on the way we live and do business.
"At the moment you can see a scenario arriving where you don't have to go to school and you don't have to go to work because of the technology.
"In 15 0 years time you may even be taking a holiday in a virtual world. It will have an impact on climate change because people will be able to have meetings without travel.
"You will feel you are in a boardroom and see and feel the presence of your virtual colleagues."
Prof Stone said the huge success of the online computer-generated environment of Second Life showed how people were already socialising in virtual world.
"In the future there is no reason you can't have holographic projectors where your front room becomes a bar and you invite people along and they arrive holographically."
Prof Stone said the "Holy Grail" was the development of holographic pods similar to the "Holodeck" in Star Trek where people can experience virtual worlds through all their senses.
A "cybersphere" similar to this has already been developed by the Warwick Manufacturing Group, a hot-house for innovative technology at the University of Warwick. …