What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality (VR) is a technology which allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment, whether that environment is a simulation of the real world or an imaginary world. It is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. On a computer, virtual reality is primarily experienced through two of the five senses: sight and sound
Most current virtual reality environments are primarily visual experiences, displayed either on a computer screen or stereoscopic displays, but some simulations include additional sensory information, such as sound through speakers or headphones.
Virtual reality can be divided into:
- The simulation of a real environment for training and education.
- The development of an imagined environment for a game or interactive story.
The concept of virtual reality has been around for decades, even though the public really only became aware of it in the early 1990s.
Mid of 1950: Cinematographer Named Morton Heilig & Device: Sensorama
Envisioned a theatre experience that would stimulate all his audiences’ senses, drawing them in to the stories more effectively. He build a console in 1960 called the Sensorama that included a stereoscopic display, fans, odor emitters, stereo speakers and a moving chair. He also invented a head mounted television display designed to let a user watch television in 3-D. Users were passive audiences for the films, but many of Heilig’s concepts would find their way into the VR field.
In 1961: Philco Corporation engineers & Device: Headsight
Developed the first HMD in 1961, called the Headsight. The helmet included a video screen and tracking system, which the engineers linked to a closed circuit camera system. They designed the HMD for use in dangerous situations — a user could observe a real environment remotely, adjusting the camera angle by turning his head.
Bell Laboratories used a similar HMD for helicopter pilots. They linked HMDs to infrared cameras attached to the bottom of helicopters, which allowed pilots to have a clear field of view while flying in the dark.
In 1965: A Computer Scientist Named Ivan Sutherland
Envisioned what he called the “Ultimate Display.” Using this display, a person could look into a virtual world that would appear as real as the physical world the user lived in. This vision guided almost all the developments within the field of virtual reality. Sutherland’s concept included:
- A virtual world that appears real to any observer, seen through an HMD.
- A computer that maintains the world model in real time.
- The ability for users to manipulate virtual objects in a realistic, intuitive way.
For years, VR technology remained out of the public eye. Almost all development focused on vehicle simulations until the 1980s.
In 1984: Michael McGreevy & Device: Human–Computer Interface (Hci)
Began to experiment with VR technology as a way to advance human–computer interface (… Read More