Virtual reality technologies aim to appeal to all our senses in order to completely immerse us in computer-generated scenarios. The computer graphics used in flight simulators and games already offer users an almost-perfect illusion of reality. But most of the solutions available at present only focus on creating a virtual reality for the eyes and ears. Researchers are currently exploring ways of simulating the other senses of smell, touch and taste. However, we will have to wait at least another 30 years before we can step into an all-encompassing virtual reality, like the Holodeck in Star Trek.
Prof. Uwe Freiherr von Lukas, head of the Maritime Graphics competence centre, and Dr Ulrich Bockholt, head of the Virtual and Augmented Reality competence centre, both at the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research (IGD), answered this question.