VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTAL DATABASES: A NEW FORM OF CARTOGRAPHIC EXPRESSION
University of West Florida, Environmental Studies, Pensacola, Florida, USA
Real-time interaction within very high-detail, virtual environments is now possible on both desk-top and notebook computers. However, for interactive virtual reality (VR) to be possible, it is essential to have a digital representation of a natural or cultural environment in the form of a digital, visual database variously called virtual environments (VE), virtual worlds, synthetic environments, or synthetic natural environments (SNE). As is the case with all new technology, there are certain dilemmas that still exist - dilemmas that initially limit the usefulness and wide-spread use of an innovation. Paramount among these is the acceptance by the cartographic community of virtual environmental databases as a new and acceptable form of cartographic expression. This paper briefly describes the state-of-the-art of virtual environmental databases production and discusses the relationship of virtual environmental database production to the traditional cartographic discipline.