Virtual Reality Applications in Tourism

Virtual Reality Applications in Tourism

Vahit Oguz Kiper (Sakarya University of Applied Sciences, Turkey) and Orhan Batman (Sakarya University of Applied Sciences, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1989-9.ch008
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Through modern ages, tourism becomes a vital part of human life. With the advance of technology, tourism movements gain new tools. Those tools gave tourism an edge on management, marketing, education, and economic areas. Also, on demand side, new types of tourists with their brand-new demands and motivations became an important factor for those responsible for tourism supply. One of the most noticeable tools that new technology era has brought is virtual reality applications. Despite dating back to the 1950s, VR (virtual reality) has gained an interesting reputation in the last few years with the advances of related technologies. VR applications are used in many sectors like construction, military, communication, marketing, education, etc. Tourism industry is one of them of course. Especially, VR is used as both a tool and product in hotel & accommodation sector, recreation & entertainment, transportation, destination marketing, and a touristic product itself.
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Virtual reality basically provides a medium that is in fact unreal for its user which they may experience unlimited scenarios with a computer system (Hobson & Williams, 1995). In another definition, virtual reality presents ultimate interface between computer applications and humans in a three-dimensional graphical world (Stone, 1995). Contrary to these two definitions which use “computerized” word, The Oxford Dictionary (OED) first made the definition of VR in 1980 as a synthesized reality with computerized clothing (Whyte, 2002, p. 2). There is a reason why VR systems called synthesized and that reason is of images that participants see in displays are usually generated by computers. They might as well be almost-real version of external world or they might also be fully creative and fictional.

Virtual reality dates back more than it’s expected. In 1962 a vision director Morton Heilig developed first VR simulator named Sensorama Simulator (Bostan, 2007). In 1963, Sutherland developed a sketchpad which is also considered as the foundation of computer aided drafting system (CAD) and this development gave Sutherland the title: father of virtual reality systems. In fact, more and more computerized systems were developed since then based on Sutherland’s model and today we reach the realistic and multifunctional VR systems (Craig, Sherman, & Will, 2009).

VR systems can be basically classified into 3 categories such as immersive (using Head Mounted Displays), semi-immersive and non-immersive VR systems (Gutierrez, Vexo, & Thalmann, 2008, p. 2). Full immersive VR systems are most realistic ones and comes with the highest price as expected. In fully immersive mediums, users body stay in the real world but almost all her/his senses are concentrated into virtual world. User freely roam around, experience and travel in immersive mediums. There might be a large zone for user to really move parallel to her/his movement in virtual world or as a space saving solution, there might be a walking mill similar to treadmill. All those motions are transferred via the avatar of the user (Ventrella, 2000).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Head Mounted Display: A kind of helmet that is worn for using virtual reality application to see images or hear sounds or gave head movement inputs to VR processor.

Immersive: Explains a situation that completely or almost completely involves a person by the person’s senses.

Spatial: A real environment from anywhere in 3-dimensional space.

Virtual Reality: A device that presents the user or users virtually created scenes that is both real or unreal with additional components for input and output of senses.

Medium: A specific environment of a specific thing or event.

Z Generation: Represent people who were born in millennium age, meaning after 2000s.

Space Tourism: A tourism type that involves people who are motivated to travel through space voluntary.

Destination: The place where tourism activities occur or the place where tourist go for tourism motivations.

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