Facebook’s $2 billion bet on virtual reality has yet to pay off, but the company isn’t giving up just yet: A lighter, more powerful version of the Oculus Quest headset
What is virtual reality?
Virtual reality is our future.
But before I will start to write you about future, I am going to write you about history.
The first references to the concept of virtual reality came from science fiction. Stanley G. Weinbaum wrote short story “Pygmalion’s Spectacles”( 1935). He describes a goggle-based virtual reality system with holographic recording of fictional experiences, including smell and touch.
Second name is Morton Heilig. He wrote “Experience Theatre”(1950s). He built a prototype of his vision dubbed the Sensorama in 1962, along with five short films to be displayed in it while engaging multiple senses (sight, sound, smell, and touch).
Around the same time, Douglas Engelbart used computer screens as both input and output devices.
In 1968, Ivan Sutherland, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created what is widely considered to be the first virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) head-mounted display (HMD) system. Of course, it was something really big and really hard to use, that is why it took name The Sword of Damocles.
In 1978, MIT created Aspen Movie Map. The program was a crude virtual simulation of Aspen, Colorado in which users could wander the streets in one of three modes: summer, winter, and polygons.
In 1982, Atari founded a research lab for virtual reality, but the lab was closed after two years due to Atari Shock (North American video game crash of 1983). However, its hired employees, such as Tom Zimmerman, Scott Fisher, Jaron Lanier and Brenda Laurel, kept their research and development on VR-related technologies.
Jaron Lanier popularized the term “virtual reality” by the 1980s ,he also have 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 early affordable VR device.
Most of popularity came for VR from marginal cultures, like cyberpunks, who viewed the technology as a potential means for social change, and the recreational drug subculture, who praised virtual reality not only as a new art form, but as an entirely new frontier. The concept of virtual reality was popularized in mass media by movies such as Brainstorm (1983) and The Lawnmower Man. The VR research boom of the 1990s was accompanied by the non-fiction book Virtual Reality (1991) by Howard Rheingold.
In 1990s most ideas about VR remained theoretical due to the limited computing power available at the time. The extremely high cost of the technology made it impossible for consumers to adopt.(In 1990, Jonathan Waldern, a VR Ph.D, demonstrates “Virtuality” at the Computer Graphics 90 exhibition staged at London’s Alexandra Palace. This new system was an arcade machine that would use a virtual reality headset to immerse players. CyberEdge and PCVR, two VR industry magazines, started to publish in the early 1990s.) When the Internet became widely available, this became the technology focus for most people.
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, Goodle 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 , who later went on to found Oculus VR, 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 July 2013, Guild Software’s Vendetta Online was widely reported as the first MMORPG to support the Oculus Rift, making it potentially the first persistent online world with native support for a consumer virtual reality headset. Since 2013, there have been several virtual reality devices that seek to enter the market to complement Oculus Rift to enhance the game experience.
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.
On March 25, 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion.
In that same month, Sony announced Project Morpheus, a virtual reality headset for the PlayStation 4 video game console.
Google 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 2015, the Kickstarter campaign for Gloveone, a pair of gloves providing motion tracking and haptic feedback, was successfully funded, with over $150,000 in contributions.
In February–March 2015, HTC with Valve Corporatio announced their virtual reality headset HTC Vive and controllers, along with their tracking technology called Lighthouse, which utilizes “base stations” mounted to the wall above the user’s head in the corners of a room for positional tracking of the Vive headset and its motion controllers using infrared light.
The company announced its plans to release the Vive to the public in April 2016 on December 8, 2015.
Units began shipping on April 5, 2016.
In July 2015, OnePlu became the first company to launch a product using virtual reality. They used VR as the platform to launch their second flagship device the OnePlus 2, first viewable using an app on the Google Play Store, then on YouTube.
The launch was viewable using OnePlus Cardboard, based on the Google’s own Cardboard platform. The whole VR launch had a runtime of 33 minutes, and was viewable in all countries. Also in 2015, Jaunt, a startup company developing cameras and a cloud distribution platform, whose content will be accessible using an app, reached $100 million in funding from such sources as Disney and Madison Square Garden. On April 27, 2016, Mojang announced that Minecraft is now playable on the Gear VR.
Minecraft is still being developed for the Oculus Rift headset but a separate version was released to the Oculus Store for use with the Gear VR. This version is similar to the Pocket Edition of Minecraft. (c)
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