In recent years, the enthusiasm for Virtual Reality (VR) has reached an all-time high. Without exception, everyone who hears about VR technology is interested in a certain way and many people have already started to use VR technology for example to view 3D configurators. Nevertheless, many people are still waiting for further development before it comes to a broad introduction. This is mainly due to the fact that VR is an emerging technology with supporters who believe that VR has the potential to improve and revolutionize many areas, including education, business, research, military, therapy, travel, art, design, to name a few. In the following article we would like to take a look at the history of VR and especially VR headsets.
Introduction to VR development.
Although the technology is new, the term “virtual” has been used since the 1400s to describe “something essentially or effect that does not really exist in reality”, this is the earliest use of the word that fits into a modern context and is a precursor of the meaning of virtual that people understand today. In 1938, playwright Antonin Artaud used the term “realite virtual” in a collection of essays he published to comment on the illusory nature of figures and objects. He was of the opinion that the audience of a play should give up their disbelief in the truthfulness of the story and see it as reality – a theme that is still used in VR today. In 1958, his works were translated into English and published as “The Theater and ist Double”, the earliest use of virtual reality.
The VR development between 1960 and 2000.
With the help of research, we found out that the earliest form of VR was created in 1962, when Morton Heilig built the Sensorama. It was a device in front of which the user sat while his head was wrapped on four sides by a screen, and they watched one of five films that all combined sight, sound, smell, and touch. Since the device had outdated digital computers, it was mechanical.
In 1968, Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull developed the first Head Mounted Display (HMD) system for immersive simulation applications. Since it was the first HMD, both the quality of the interface and the realism of the simulation were low, and it weighed so much that it had to be suspended from the ceiling with metal ropes.
From the 1970s to the 1990s, the VR industry mainly supplied equipment for medical, flight simulation, automotive and military training purposes. NASA also made significant contributions during this period, notably through its Artist in Residence David Em, who created navigable worlds for NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory.
In 1979, Eric Howlett developed the Large Expanse, Extra Perspective (LEEP) optical system. The system impressed users with its depth perception created by stereoscopic imaging and large field of view and realism. The LEEP system was redesigned for use at NASA in 1985 and remains the basis for most VR headsets.
Atari founded a VR research laboratory in 1982, but it was closed two years later due to the 1983 North American video game crash. However, this is still a crucial time in the history of VR, as big names in the VR community such as Tom Zimmerman, Scott Fisher, Jaron Lanier, Michael Naimark and Brenda Laurel were employed there (all later pioneers of VR). In the 1980s, Jaron Lanier popularized the term VR and founded VPL Research. They developed many VR devices, including the Data Glove, the EyePhone and the Audio Sphere. When they licensed the Data Glove to Mattel to develop the Power Glove, this was one of the first opportunities for an affordable VR device that was easily accessible to the general public at just $75.
In the 1990s, Augmented Reality (AR) and VR experienced a boom that gave users a more sensual feel and, for the first time, enabled them to see their own bodies in relation to others in space.
In 1991, the first cubic immersion space called “the cave” was developed by a doctoral student in her doctoral thesis. This breakthrough created a multi-projected environment and enabled people to see your body in relation to others in space. In the years 1989-1992 Nicole Stenger created the first immersive real-time film called “Angles”. Data gloves and high-resolution glasses were used to depict the experience. The first commercial releases of consumer headsets from the 1990s contributed to much of these breakthroughs.
In 1991, Sega released VR headsets for arcade games and the Mega Drive console. In 1994, they released the Sega VR-1 motion simulator Arcade Attraction, which tracked head movement. In 1995 Nintendo developed the Virtual Boy console, and finally in 1999 entrepreneurs tried to create what they called “the rigg” or a prototype of computer monitors that users would carry on and around their shoulders.
VR development 2000 until today.
Since the year 2000 the VR technology has grown further and is probably the period with the greatest innovation since the foundation of VR. In 2001, SAS Cube created the first PC-based cubic space, which led to the development of Virtools VR pack, a library package add-on. Following the release of Google Street View in 2007, Google introduced the stereoscopic 3D mode for Street View in 2010. This allowed users to stand on the street and physically look around the 3D image. In 2010, 18-year-old Palmer Luckey created the first prototype of the Oculus Rift, the famous VR headset. It was the first time that a 90 degree field of view was used, and the new Oculus Rift headset relied on the computing power of a computer to display its images. This revived interest in VR space.
2012 was also a big year for Palmer Luckey, who launched a kickstart campaign for Oculus Rift that raised $2.4 million in donations. Two years later, in 2014, Facebook bought Oculus VR for $2 billion.
2014 was an exciting year for the VR community. The VR company Oculus was not only bought by Facebook, but Sony also announced its VR headset for the PS4 under the name “Project Morpheus”. 2014 was also the year in which Samsung announced the Gear VR, which would eventually be launched in 2016.
In 2016, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR were released. It was also the first year that VR became accessible to consumers at home for gaming and media entertainment. All headsets had included portable devices that allowed the movement and use of hands when connecting to VR. Due to the high cost of VR headsets and phones, most VR users were not impressed by the affordability of VR in 2016. It is also important to note that June 2016 is Veer’s month of birth.
2017 was the year when the gap between expectations and reality was closed. In 2016, many of them were excited about the VR potential, but thought the content was sparse and the price of VR headsets too expensive. In 2017, Sony bundled PS4 consoles with PSVR headsets to attract more users. This fact, coupled with the summer sale of hardware by Oculus, spurred the purchase of VR headsets and devices. 2017 is also the year Microsoft entered the VR industry.
Last September, Oculus hosted OC5, its annual conference on hardware, software and content innovation in VR. At the conference, Oculus announced Quest, which will be available in early 2019. It is the first all-in-one headset with positionally controlled controllers, an exclusive Star Wars game that allows players to shoot a lightsaber like a Jedi, and a professional, ready-to-use 3D/360 camera developed in collaboration with Facebook and RED. At the E3 video game conference, HTC announced an adapter for the Vive to make it wireless for launch this summer.
Veer`s place in the history of VR.
During my research and later this list I found a clear lack of information about VR platforms. While most of them focus on hardware and content, there is only one real platform that allows viewing VR content over the Internet and that is Veer. Veer VR is a groundbreaking global VR content community founded in June 2016. It allows content creators to upload content such as images and videos in 360 degrees, and also allows you to access the Veer Editor to edit their content. However, the site is not limited to authors, but also allows users to access the uploaded content, which increases interest in VR and user base. Users don’t need to own headsets to enjoy content with Android or iOS applications, and can also use their computer screens to explore all 360 VR videos and images on the site. However, because Veer works with Oculus, Windows, Vive, Xiaomi, Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR, and Daydream VR headsets are compatible. Veer wants to be the outstanding platform for the exchange of high-quality digital VR content, contributing to the development of an integrative, international VR community.
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