VR/AR - Fantasy World
How old do you think Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR) is?
What do you think was the first use of VR?
Where do you think the concept of VR first started?
Do you think there are any benefits to VR/AR? What are they?
Do you think there are any dangers with VR/AR? What are they?
Exploring the history of VR/AR kind of depends on how you define these things.
From fiction to reality…
So many things in our world, especially when it comes to tech start with an idea, a concept in science fiction. The same can be said about VR/AR. In 1935, science fiction author Stanley Weinbaum wrote Pygmalion’s Spectacles. In this fictional short story, the main character meets a professor who invents a pair of goggles that allowed him to view a movie with sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch.
Virtual reality technology was invented in 1957 by Morton Heilig. In 1962 Heilig built a prototype of his immersive, multi-sensory, mechanical multimodal theater called the Sensorama, and created five short films to be displayed in it. On August 28, 1962 Heilig was granted U.S. Patent 3,050,870 for a "Sensorama Simulator." This invention is considered one of the earliest functioning efforts in virtual reality.
However, the term ‘virtual reality’ was coined much later in 1987 by researcher Jaron Lanier. Here is some footage of Jaron when he was excited about this new technology.
By the 1990's VR started becoming a little better known in pop culture. You couldn't have the experience at home quite yet, but you could find one of these machines in popular places like mall across the US.
This period also had its share of failures, but it saw the idea of VR gain tremendous ground in common understanding and familiarity of VR technology.
1991: The Virtuality Group released a series of games and arcade machines bringing VR to the general public. Players would wear a pair of virtual reality goggles and play immersive games in real-time. A few of these devices were even networked together for multi-player virtual gaming experiences.
1991: Sega attempted to bring a similar gaming experience to homes with its console. The company never released the Sega VR headset accessory because developers were comically worried it was too realistic and users would get hurt.
In the last 10 years, the world of virtual reality has made big improvements, mostly from the tech giant battle that ensued – Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sony, and Samsung all built VR and AR divisions. However, consumers are still on the fence about VR tech as it tends to come with a hefty price tag attached.
2010: Palmer Luckey designed a prototype for what would become the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset.
Facebook bought Oculus VR for around $3 billion in 2014, just after the first shipment of kits went out via the Kickstarter campaign – there was a lawsuit filed against Facebook and Oculus for taking company secrets.
2013: Valve corporation found a way to display lag-free VR content and shared it freely with Oculus and other vendors.
Valve and HTC announced their partnership alongside the HTC Vive headset and controllers in 2015 and released the first version in 2016.
2014: Sony unveils Project Morpheus, aka PlayStation VR, for the PlayStation 4 video game console.
The final consumer version released in 2016, encouraging its users to not just play the game, but “live the game”.
2015: Google introduces Cardboard, a do-it-yourself stereoscopic viewer where a user places their phone inside a literal piece of Cardboard to wear on your head. We will look at this more in depth later in this post.
Googles Cardboard solved the price tag problem, but is it really a virtual reality headset? That’s debatable.
2016: Hundreds of companies were developing virtual reality products. Most of the headsets had dynamic binaural audio, but the haptic interfaces were still lacking.
2018: At the Facebook F8 Developer Conference, Oculus revealed the Half Dome – a headset with a 140-degree field of vision.
The future of virtual reality:
So, where do we go from here? Virtual reality continues to find new applications and with the backing of billion-dollar tech companies, you can bet the technology is here to stay. VR Software is advancing just as fast as its compatible hardware is – but that’s the biggest opportunity for those in the race.
The competitive environment on the business side should mean good news is coming soon for consumers. Pricing will be key to the consumer market and making the advanced technology an everyday item in our lives.
Right now, VR is mainly seen as a gaming experience but the potential future applications are totally up to the imagination. Mixed reality experiences, or interactive experiences that are part augmented reality and part virtual reality, provide a nice gateway into full VR adoption.
The most tangible future virtual reality predictions include:
AR & VR will merge to create a new type of experience
Advanced virtual social interactions will be introduced
VR interaction will occur through handhelds
VR headsets will slim down to look more like sunglasses
Here is some more recent footage o