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Wide area networks such as the Internet provide no guarantees about the time it takes a packet of information to reach its goal. A packet might be delayed for any number of reasons, including high network traffic, slow hardware along the particular route chosen, load problems at either the source or the destination machine, or simply an unnecessarily long route. While providing dedicated resources can mitigate these effects, they cannot be eliminated without the use of a completely closed network.

In contrast, virtual reality applications have very stringent latency requirements. High latency can induce a number of unpleasant effects, such as simulator sickness or a loss of feeling of control (as when an environment responds to a user's actions sluggishly).

Increasingly virtual reality applications are becoming networked over general-purpose LANs  [5, 7] making the conflicting constraints of networks and virtual reality a growing problem.

Loring Holden
Tue Dec 17 17:11:50 EST 1996