There was a time when Virtual Reality was just something that can be seen in science fiction movies. Then, after a lot of searching around in the dark and an even more time research and developing, the technology soon became an actual reality. Of course, those who have seen such a technology to find out that it has now become a definite reality were ecstatic and filled with absolute glee. With the release of devices such as the Oculus Rift, it seems like the perfect time to look at the roots of how we were able to reach such a technological milestone.
How Did Present Day Virtual Reality Came to be?
Before we look into the likes of the Oculus Rift, Virtual Reality was not really all that’s hyped up to be back in the day. And when we say “back in the day,” we say back in 1956. It was then that devices used to delve into the more virtual realm looked more like a large piece of medical equipment. More specifically speaking, the Sensorama had a 3D display, stereo sound, and it even had smell generators. Oh, and you have to sit down as well to use. Said seat (yep, it’s included) will vibrate according the content shown on the screen. This device was the result of cinematographer Morton Heilig’s passion for making cinemas that drove him to create this unique viewer.
Moving forward to 10 years later and we take another “whack” at VR, but it’s still far from the virtual reality headset of today. In 1966, the GAF Viewmaster was born; this iconic red stereoscope merged two slightly different images together to make one scene. When looking at the lenses built on the device, it would create a 3D image. However, these are all still images and not the moving ones that will only be seen much later in history.
In 1980, Steve Mann created a helmet-cam and viewfinder, but it was very unwieldy since these are all connected to a backpack computer. It did, however, harness a beam splitter that will send a scene to both a computer-connected camera and towards the user. This will allow an overlay of real-time data. However, this particular experience is more in the lines of augmented reality rather than a virtual one. His machine was called the Eye Tap, and the subsequent prototype were refined to be more “travel-friendly.”
Fast forward to 2009 and the first Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset came to life. The development kit 1 raised nearly $2.5-million from its 10,000 backers. It also become one of the biggest crowdfunding success stories in history.