The basic concept of virtual reality (VR) has a long history. Even early landscape painters thought about how to fill the peripheral vision in order to immerse the viewer in the work. This theory emerged in the 19th century, but in the 20th century, with the advancement of technology, it first began to materialize, and since then it has continued to develop.
Now we are familiar with this technology, which is defined by the abbreviation VR. With the world responding to Corona 19 through’remoteization’, VR has begun to unfold an attractive future by entering both the corporate and consumer markets. It’s also a good time to revisit the history of this technology.
The origin of VR
Starting from the beginning, the first device to have a feature of VR is the View-Master. It was a type of stereoscope that received its own patent. Stereoscopes started out as a device for creating 3D images by simultaneously displaying a pair of separate images in 1838.
View-Master commercialized it in 1939. It was a small color photographic film that operated a reel made of cardboard containing seven pairs of stereoscopic 3D photographs. This concept became popular among vacationers, and new models appeared at the end of the 20th century.
The View-Master was the first device to be noted as the’ancestor’ of the VR headset we now know. However, in 1935,’imagination’, which pushed the concept of virtual reality, attracted attention.
In 1935, Stanley G Weinbaum published a novel called Pygmalion’s Pectacles, which featured glasses that the user could sense when watching a movie. This story provided for the first time a comprehensive view of the user’s point of view, the technology that could ultimately change reality.
In 1962, a cameraman named Morton Heilig introduced the’Sensorama’, a device that added the imagination of Weinbaum based on the simple functions of the View-Master. This device resembles a very large booth. It was a method in which the person sitting in the seat looked into the closed opening installed in the device.
Sensorrama provided full 3D video and audio, and was able to create atmospheric effects such as weather conditions. High League realized that he had created a very immersive viewing environment and experience, and said that his invention would be the’future of cinema’.
Sensorrama was groundbreaking, but the High League took his vision to the next level. In 1964, he unveiled the Telesphere Mask, a head-worn display (HMD) that can be used with the device he invented earlier.
This mask freed the user from the fixed sensor rama and stepped forward towards the HMD, which we now regard as synonymous with VR technology. High League provided the foundation for this technological advancement, providing users with a wider viewing angle and stereo sound.
The VR technology we now know has a lot to do with computer scientist Ivan Sutherland. He is the person who created the blueprint for modern VR. An important component in the development of VR technology led by High League was tracking technology. In 1968, Sutherland tried to solve this problem with an HMD and his tracking system called The Sword of Damocles.
Sutherland has developed an HMD similar to the High League telesphere mask. Later, with the help of his students Bob Sproul, Quintin Foster, and Danny Cohen, he incorporated head-tracking techniques. It was a project called’Ultimate Display’ that MIT started testing in 1966.
This device is a device that responds in the direction of the user’s gaze, although its functions are greatly limited by modern standards. It has contributed greatly to increasing the level of interaction between users and VR.
Full-scale commercialization of VR and the role of NASA
In 1985, VR goggles and gloves were first commercialized. The company that launched this groundbreaking product was VPL Research, founded by Jaron Ranier and Thomas Zimmerman. The company’s products were very impressive considering the technology was still in its infancy at the time. VR goggles weren’t very different from the appearance of VR headsets that we have now available, and VR gloves provided another level of immersive experience.
Another important development took place in 1987. Finally, it was officially named’virtual reality’. This is another milestone for VPL Research. At the time, British Aerospace in the UK was also developing VR with a focus on implementing a virtual cockpit incorporating computer-generated 3D maps. As defense technologies around the world gradually advance, radar and infrared technologies have begun to be incorporated into this innovation.
VR attracted the attention of leading companies and government agencies around the world, and in 1989 NASA began to develop its own. NASA has signed a contract that focuses on the use of VR in astronauts’ training simulators. The strong use cases of VR technology, which are currently widely adopted by companies, were already reviewed at that time.
Google Street View
The ideal’next-stage stop’ in the history of VR technology is Google Street View, launched in 2007. Just before the year 2000, VR began to enter the film and TV industry. Cardboard or plastic glasses with red and blue lenses provided a more immersive viewing environment. At the time, new products were pouring into the VR market, and Google Street View was by far the most interesting peak.
Street View is based on images taken with a special camera that simultaneously captures the surrounding environment in 360 degrees. Many people have seen a vehicle with a Google brand imprinted on it, with a camera system running around to build a visual database.
This allows users to check a specific place or location online in a virtual reality view. You can also view it more broadly with Google Earth. This unique use case proved the possibility of VR technology and became a catalyst for introducing VR at the enterprise level.
The Oculus Rift is synonymous with modern VR, from the design of the head mounted display to the features it supports. The first model was released in August 2012, but the prototype was made in 2007, before the company was founded.
The first official release was the Rift Development Kit (DK) 1. It was first introduced in 2012 as part of a crowdfunding campaign for developers. The DK1 was launched in 2013 to a wider audience. It was equipped with a 7-inch screen, and the pixel conversion time was much shorter than the original prototype.
In 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus for $2.3 billion. This shows that VR has potential in the broader technology space and world. Since then, other development kits and models have been unveiled, and in 2019 a VR headset called the Rift S was released.
Based on a camera-based system called Oculus Insight, this product supports the ability to track one’s position and operator’s position in 3D space. This product has been evaluated as a significant advancement of VR functionality to a level that is commercially available.
Enterprise VR and the future of XR
The world has faced unique challenges since 2020, and it continues to this day. On the other hand, the importance of VR has grown. Companies around the world have reviewed how to use VR to enhance remote collaboration. More innovative applications such as industrial maintenance and training were also considered. The growing need for remote work has accelerated corporate innovation, and many have invested in autonomous and sensor technologies.
One of the use cases for VR with high growth potential in the enterprise sector is training. Companies in the oil and gas industry and mining sectors use this technology to provide as realistic training as possible in a non-hazardous environment.
VR hardware and systems have also entered maturity. Now trainees can acquire situational awareness skills through complex processes. As a result, training has become more effective and more efficient, safer, and lower costs.
VR continues to evolve, and new use cases for businesses and users continue to emerge. The future of this technology is likely to be extended reality (XR). XR, which is expected to become the future of mobile computing, is a concept that encompasses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR).
Just as Morton High League tried to create a more immersive experience with sensor rama, developers are now trying to create new value by combining VR and related technologies. [email protected]