Volume 6, Number 2, 1997


Immersed in Virtual Reality

At first, Cleopatra Alfenito, Delaware '81, knew only one thing about computers: She hated them.

Even as a successful freelance writer who relied on technology for her work, Alfenito found computers boring and technical.

Today, however, the San Francisco resident has immersed herself in virtual reality-a computerized, three-dimensional experience in real time in which the user controls the technology with gloves, goggles, joystick or tracer.

"Virtual reality is the most incredibly human, comfortable interface to technology I have ever experienced," she says. "The art adapts to the user, versus the user having to adapt to technology."

A popular public speaker on the topic, Alfenito is especially interested in telemedicine virtual reality, which, she says, gives doctors X-ray vision, allowing them to "fly through" the human body or even to operate using a remote robot.

A couple of years ago, Alfenito founded Virtual Valley, a business and trade group of virtual reality professionals who meet to discuss the latest technology and to explore new ideas in the field.

A community volunteer who has counseled battered women and emotionally disturbed adolescent girls, Alfenito was recognized for her volunteer and leadership efforts in 1994 when she was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Bay Area Entrepreneur Association. She is the daughter of Gerard J. Mangone, H. Rodney Sharp Professor Emeritus of International Law and Organization. One of her sisters, Regina Alexandra Mangone, is a 1983 graduate of the University.