1960

Morton Heiligs’ Sensorama Sensorama was an arcade style theatre cabinet that would stimulate all the senses, not just sight and sound. It featured stereo speakers, a stereoscopic 3D display, fans, smell generators and a vibrating chair. 1960
 Corne and Byens’ Headsight Headsight was the first virtual reality helmet. The helmet had one CRT screen attached to a tracking magnetic system. 1961
 Sutherlands’ Ultimate Display Ultimate Display was a VR helmet with two CRT screens. The two screens enabled the viewer to experience lifelike 3D images. 1965
 Sutherlands’ Sword of Damocles The Sword of Damocles was the first virtual reality and augmented reality head mounted display. 1968
Virtual Reality History
Sword of Damocles
Virtual Reality History
Sensorama

1970

General Electric Corporation builds flight simulators. They provided 180-degree FOV (Field of View) by using three screens surrounding the training cockpit and was one of the first computerized flight simulators. 1972
Myron Krueger first exhibited VIDEOPLACE Krueger developed a series of experiences which he termed “artificial reality”. They were computer generated environments that responded to the people in them. 1975
Virtual Reality History
This technology enabled people to communicate with each other in a responsive, computer generated environment, despite being miles apart. VIDEOPLACE
Military Starts experimenting with simulation headsets 1979

1980

Lanier and Zimmerman founded VPL Research, Inc. Lanier and Zimmerman developed a glove for NASA’s VR program. They were also the first to sell VR goggles and gloves, and Reality Built for Two became the first commercially available VR system. This device allowed users to twist and turn virtual objects that appeared in the EyePhone heads up display. This entertainment came at a price as the whole package was priced at $100,000. 1984
 The term“Virtual reality” is born In 1987 when Jaron Lanier, founder of the visual programming lab (VPL), coined the term “virtual reality” and has stuck ever since. 1987
Virtual Reality History
Reality Built for Two

1990

Virtual Reality History
SEGA VR
Virtual Reality History
Atari Jaguar
Virtual Reality History
CAVE
Virtuality Group launches a range of arcade machines Players would wear a set of VR goggles, and play on gaming machines with realtime immersive stereoscopic 3D visuals. Some units were also networked together for a multi-player gaming experience. SEGA announce new VR glasses These wrap-around prototype glasses had head tracking, stereo sound and LCD screens in the visor. However, technical development difficulties meant that the device would forever remain in the prototype phase despite having developed 4 games for the product. 1991 1993
Atari Corporation creates Jaguar VR Atari Jaguar was a home video game console. Despite its initial success production stopped in 1995. 1994
Nintendo Virtual Boy The Nintendo Virtual Boy was a 3D gaming console that was hyped to be the first ever portable console that could display true 3D graphics. It turned out to be a commercial failure despite price drops. 1995
Forte Technologies Inc. create VFX-1 This was a headset comprised of a helmet, a hand held controller, and an ISA interface board. The VFX-1 was a big development at its time because it offered head-tracking, stereoscopic 3D, and stereo audio. 1995
CAVE – Multiple users The CAVE Automatic Virtual Environment used stereoscopic LCD shutter glasses and wall projections to create virtual room sized spaces that the user could walk through. CAVE was truly groundbreaking in that it allowed multiple users to enjoy the same experience. 1995
Georgia Tech Researchers used VR to create war zone scenarios as PTSD therapy for veterans. 1997
SEOS 120/40 HMD' released This headset was mostly used for driving or flight simulations. It used two LCD screens, with an amazing field of view of 120 degrees, which most of the headsets out today can't compete with. 1999

Virtual reality gains steam in the new millennium.

'00

Virtual Reality History
NASA continued its research into VR systems, eventually pairing its tech with the agency's Robonaut project. While Robonaut could be programmed to work autonomously, it could also be controlled through telepresence. Users with head mounted displays and other hand-held controls could see from the robot's perspective and manipulate its appendages remotely.

NASA

'06

Toshiba's 2006 head-mounted display concept ditched individual optics in favor of your own, personal 15.8-inch IMAX. They said it gave wearers 120-degree (vertical) and 160-degree (horizontal) views from any angle a viewer's head turned.

TOSHIBA

'08

Virtual Reality History
NASA had been having issues with the limited field of view its VR products were providing, so it reached out to Baltimore based Sensics to help find a solution. The company responded in 2008 by delivering a high resolution, ultra wide field of view display called piSight. It seamlessly patched together images from a series of micro-displays to provide a 150-degree field of view.

SENSICS

'11

Virtual Reality History
The HMZ-T1, Sony’s first of a new series of 3D-viewing visors, launched in 2011. This unit boasted an "HD organic EL panel" with a 1,280 x 720 resolution. Consumers disappointed by the lack of head tracking for VR gaming soon rectified this omission through a little hacking.

SONY

'12

Virtual Reality History
Oculus VR was the first company to develop virtual reality headsets at a price point suited for the general public. Their Kickstarter project raised $2.5 million to develop the initial model. The company was purchased 2 years later by Facebook for $2 billion dollars.

OCULUS

"The good news is virtual reality is here...

The bad news is that something is still missing."

MYCHILO STEPHENSON CLINE, Virtual Reality: a Catalyst for Social and Economic Change
Virtual reality experiences are missing a critical feature that would allow users to become fully immersed in the technology: The emotional response factor.

... the human factor.

Of all the VR enabled games introduced at E3 this year, Ubisonft's "Star Trek: Bridge Crew" received the most attention from the media. As the first gaming experience to allow multiple players (located anywhere in the real world) to enter into the same VR environment and interact with each other as a team, Bridge Crew demonstrates the true promise of VR as a way to bring people together for entertainment, work and learning. But it also highlights one of the biggest challenges the technology has yet to transcend. Research on ways to allow face-to-face communication between users in a virtual world has shown that the obstruction created by head mounted displays (HMD) is a major challenge. Headsets which cover the upper portion of the face makes it impossible for external cameras to record accurate facial expressions, critical to users’ understanding of what other participants are thinking or feeling during a VR experience. Oculus VR and Facebook have tried to address this problem via a system of strain gauge’s, embedded in the headset’s foam lining, which record facial muscle activity, paired with a camera that records lower facial activity. Other research is being pursued to create a more minimalistic headset with a sensor, similar to the Myo Band, which correlates the body’s autonomic activities to emotions. The headset will measure eye movement, galvanic skin response, heart rate, sweat gland, respiration, blood pressure and body temperature. Creating a system where the virtual environment is influenced by users’ emotional responses will allow gaming, training and therapeutic VR applications to become more organic, opening the door to VR worlds that incorporate realistic and effective interaction among participants.
PDT is a global, award-winning product design and development firm. Our team is experienced in industries ranging from medical to defense, consumer electronics and aerospace. At PDT we believe the success of a project relies on our team members' insight into today's product development issues, advances, technologies and trends. We actively seek out the information needed to stay savvy to the issues and opportunities facing our clients, continually building a foundation of knowledge and inspiration that helps our team design products which spark desire, devotion and success in the global marketplace.
Recent Trend Reports
Virtual Reality History
Product Development Technologies (PDT) logo

© 2017 Product Development Technologies

PDT is a trademark of Product Development Technologies, LLC