This review discusses the concept of virtual world and its increasing implementation in the engineering domain. Current virtual worlds are computer-based simulated environments accessed by numerous users through an online interface. Virtual world applications cover a broad spectrum of activities. Globally distributed engineering teams can use virtual worlds as immersive and interactive platforms for concurrent product design, for virtual prototyping and manufacturing, and for workforce training. Virtual worlds are making a paradigm shift in new product development and are becoming an integral part of computer-aided engineering. Virtual worlds provide an opportunity for businesses to reduce production cycle time and increase user input earlier in the development process. NASA is using simulations of remote landscapes in virtual worlds to evaluate extra-terrestrial transportation options and operators. The review also highlights that virtual worlds have the potential of transforming the 2D Internet into a 360° multisensory 3D immersive experience, with all the richness, depth, and extendibility that it implies.

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