Scientists today are working on a startling range of new technologies that will revolutionize products and production processes. Some of the most exciting work is being done in biotechnology, solid-state electronics, robotics, and materials sciences.28 Researchers are working on AIDS cures, happiness pills, painkillers, totally safe contraceptives, and nonfattening foods. They are designing robots for firefighting, underwater exploration, and home nursing. In addition, scientists also work on fantasy products, such as small flying cars, three-dimensional television, and space colonies. The challenge in each case is not only technical but also commercial—to develop affordable versions of these products.
Companies are already harnessing the power of virtual reality (VR), the combination of technologies that allows users to experience three-dimensional, computergenerated environments through sound, sight, and touch. Virtual reality has already been applied to gathering consumer reactions to new automobile designs, kitchen layouts, exterior home designs, and other potential offerings.
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