condensed from http://wikipedia.org/
Morton Heilig wrote in the 1950s of an “Experience Theatre” that could encompass all the senses in an effective manner, thus drawing the viewer into the onscreen activity. He built a prototype of his vision dubbed the Sensorama in 1962
Around the same time, Douglas Engelbart used computer screens both as input and output devices. In 1968, Ivan Sutherland, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created what was widely considered to be the first head-mounted display (HMD) system for use in immersive simulation applications.
Battlezone, an arcade video game from 1980, used 3D vector graphics to immerse the player in a VR world.(Atari).
Also notable among the earlier hypermedia and virtual reality systems was the Aspen Movie Map, which was created at MIT in 1978. The program was a crude virtual simulation of Aspen, Colorado in which users could wander the streets in one of the three modes: summer, winter, and polygons.
By the 1980s the term “virtual reality” was popularized by Jaron Lanier, one of the modern pioneers of the field. Lanier had founded the company VPL Research in 1985. VPL Research has developed several VR devices like the Data Glove, the Eye Phone, and the Audio Sphere. VPL licensed the Data Glove technology to Mattel, which used it to make an accessory known as the Power Glove. While the Power Glove was hard to use and not popular, at US$75, it was an early affordable VR device.
The VR industry mainly provided VR devices for medical, flight simulation, automobile industry design, and military training purposes from 1970 to 1990.
In 1991, Carolina Cruz-Neira, Daniel J. Sandin and Thomas A. DeFanti from the Electronic Visualization Laboratory created the first cubic immersive room, The Cave. Developed as Cruz-Neira’s PhD thesis, it involved a multi-projected environment, similar to the holodeck, allowing people to see their own bodies in relation to others in the room.
In 1992 researcher Louis Rosenberg created the Virtual Fixtures system at the U.S. Air Force’s Armstrong Labs using a full upper-body exoskeleton, enabling a physically realistic virtual reality in 3D. The system enabled the overlay of physically real 3D virtual objects registered with a user’s direct view of the real world, producing the first true augmented reality experience enabling sight, sound, and touch.
A VPL Research DataSuit, a full-body outfit with sensors for measuring the movement of arms, legs, and trunk. Developed circa 1989.
The 1990s saw the first widespread commercial releases of consumer headsets. In 1991, Sega announced the Sega VR headset for arcade games and the Mega Drive console. It used LCD screens in the visor, stereo headphones, and inertial sensors that allowed the system to track and react to the movements of the user’s head. In the same year, Virtuality launched and went on to become the first mass-produced, networked, multiplayer VR entertainment system
In 1991, Computer Gaming World predicted “Affordable VR by 1994”. By 1994, Sega released the Sega VR-1 motion simulator arcade attraction, in SegaWorld amusement arcades. It was able to track head movement and featured 3D polygon graphics in stereoscopic 3D, powered by the Sega Model 1 arcade system board. Also in 1994 Apple released QuickTime VR, which, despite using the term “VR”, was unable to represent virtual reality, and instead displayed 360 photographic panoramas.
The Virtual Boy was created by Nintendo and was released in Japan on July 21, 1995 and in North America on August 15, 1995. Also in 1995, a group in Seattle created public demonstrations of a “CAVE-like” 270 degree immersive projection room called the Virtual Environment Theater, produced by entrepreneurs Chet Dagit and Bob Jacobson.
The same system was shown in 1996 in tradeshow exhibits sponsored by Netscape Communications. Forte released the VFX1, a PC-powered virtual reality headset in 1995, which was supported by games including Descent, Star Wars: Dark Forces, System Shock and Quake.
In 1999, entrepreneur Philip Rosedale formed Linden Lab with an initial focus on the development of VR hardware. In its earliest form, the company struggled to produce a commercial version of “The Rig”, which was realized in prototype form as a clunky steel contraption with several computer monitors that users could wear on their shoulders. The concept was later adapted into the personal computer-based, 3D virtual world Second Life.
In 2001, SAS3 or SAS Cube became the first PC based cubic room, developed by Z-A Production (Maurice Benayoun, David Nahon), Barco, Clarté, installed in Laval France in April 2001. The SAS library gave birth to Virtools VRPack. By 2007, Google introduced Street View, a service that shows panoramic views of an increasing number of worldwide positions such as roads, indoor buildings and rural areas. It also features a stereoscopic 3D mode, introduced in 2010.
In 2010, Palmer Luckey designed the first prototype of the Oculus Rift. This prototype, built on a shell of another virtual reality headset, was only capable of rotational tracking. However, it boasted a 90-degree field of vision that was previously unseen in the consumer market at the time. This initial design would later serve as a basis from which the later designs came.
In 2013, Valve discovered and freely shared the breakthrough of low-persistence displays which make lag-free and smear-free display of VR content possible. This was adopted by Oculus and was used in all their future headsets.
In early 2014, Valve showed off their SteamSight prototype, the precursor to both consumer headsets released in 2016. It shared major features with the consumer headsets including separate 1K displays per eye, low persistence, positional tracking over a large area, and fresnel lenses.
On March 25, 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion. In that same month, Sony announced Project Morpheus (its code name for PlayStation VR), a virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4 video game console. Google then announces Cardboard, a do-it-yourself stereoscopic viewer for smartphones. The user places their smartphone in the cardboard holder, which they wear on their head.
In February–March 2015, HTC and Valve Corporation announced the virtual reality headset HTC Vive and controllers. The set included tracking technology called Lighthouse, which utilized wall-mounted “base stations” for positional tracking using infrared light.
By 2016 there were at least 230 companies developing VR-related products. Facebook has 400 employees focused on VR development; Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung all had dedicated AR and VR groups. Dynamic binaural audio was common to most headsets released that year. However, haptic interfaces were not well developed, and most hardware packages incorporated button-operated handsets for touch-based interactivity. Visually, displays were still of a low-enough resolution and frame-rate that images were still identifiable as virtual.
On April 5, 2016, HTC shipped its first units of the HTC VIVE SteamVR headset. This marked the first major commercial release of sensor-based tracking, allowing for free movement of users within a defined space.
In early 2017, a patent filed by Sony showed they were developing a similar location tracking technology to the VIVE for PlayStation VR, with the potential for the development of a wireless headset.
Current Types + Devices (2014-Now)
Windows 10 Desktop headsets
Oculus Wireless (7/13/2017)
E-commerce / Business
Interactive Work Environments
PTSD / Physical Therapy / Addiction Therapy