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Is It Real Or Cyberspace?

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For engineers, there may be nothing like a good dose of virtual reality--a three-dimensional world simulated by computer. Autodesk Inc., maker of AutoCAD, the popular drafting program for personal computers, has come out with a $2,500 software package that allows all types of designers to bring their drawings to life--almost.

Called the Cyberspace Developer Kit, the programs run on IBM-compatible PCs and let engineers add such properties as gravity, friction, and springiness to AutoCAD objects. An auto engineer, say, could watch an engine's fan spin and pistons churn. By using video goggles and a "data glove," which transmits hand movements into the computer, she could manipulate the design in 3D. Architects could use the program to "walk" through a house that has yet to be built. EDITED BY JOHN W. VERITY

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