Because virtual reality can cause the illusion of achievement without experience, there is the danger that perception of personal development could be based on delusion. Self-esteem (e.g. winning a sporting competition) or self-gratification (e.g. giving birth to a baby) may be able to be experienced the "easy way", with little understanding of undesirable side-effects. There is already some concern over the effect of arcade games on eyesight and mental disorientation, but there is little official monitoring. The medical profession does not appear to be interested in research into the psychological and physiological effects, and there are no established health and safety standards.
The concept of virtual reality emerged in the early 60s with the creation of a headset capable of displaying primitive wire frame graphics. The idea was furthered in the 80s, when work began in the USA on a method of screening pilots' eyes from laser weapons and nuclear airburst flash. The result was the Super Cockpit, which generated a virtual image of the scene outside on a screen, enabling the pilot to fly the aircraft without exposure to conditions outside.
During the Gulf War, virtual models of the area of conflict created from data from satellites were used for pilot training and reconnaissance. Virtual reality designers can create rooms, objects or worlds to surround their users. In Japan, a virtually-real kitchen showroom enables homeowners to build their ideal kitchen within the space of a small office. The user can turn their head in any direction and the computer will create the appropriate image in front of their eyes. Using a special mask and glove, the user can manipulate the computer, for example, generate a three-dimensional illusion of the world and point and travel to a chosen country. In the medical field it is already possible for surgeons to get inside a virtually-real representation of, say, a patient's lung and direct radiation beams towards tumours with a much greater degree of accuracy. In the USA, scientists are building molecules present in new drugs and flying about inside them to test the efficiency of different molecular patterns. Designers are on the way to adding touch, smell and sound, to give total sensual immersion in the artificial world. Developments envisaged for the domestic market are "virtual shopping" and "virtual holidays".
In Germany, a man drove his car into a ditch because he thought he was still in the virtually-real world where he could come to no harm.