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From bulky VR machines to lightweight VR headsets: the development of virtual reality

From bulky VR machines to lightweight VR headsets
19 May 2023

Travelling to virtual worlds seemed to be incredible 10 years ago. It was a fantasy possible only in movies and books. However, today, this fantasy is real and available for everyone. VR technologies develop by leaps and bounds nowadays, they are used in different areas – education, entertainment, medicine, military. They actively become a part of our lives. But when did it all start? What was the technology like in the very beginning? In this article, we’ll tell you about important stages of virtual reality technology development.   

When VR appeared

The first attempts to create a device for immersing into virtual reality were made as early as in 1957. Back them, filmmaker Morton Heiling invented a machine and gave it a beautiful name “Sensorama”. It was a roomy cabin with a screen was holding one person and could show short movies and imitate scents, sounds, wind and rain. That’s how he story of virtual reality began.    

The device didn’t become popular: it was too expensive. However, it made a start for VR development all over the world. Many scientists began to work on the technology which seemed to be a fantasy in the past. Several years later, a VR boom took place. New inventions appeared every year and their characteristics – portability, image quality, capacity – got better and better.   

How VR headsets appeared

Ten years later, they developed “the sword of Damocles” which was very much like a VR headset, but its features were primitive. It was so bulky that they used it only in a laboratory. It was attached to the ceiling, the picture was transmitted via a computer. At that moment, the invention could notice the movements of the head, and, depending on them, it changed the perspective on the screen. But you couldn’t leave a laboratory with this device. They needed something more mobile and lightweight.   

A backpack computer, developed by Steve Mann and connected to the headset became a breakthrough. It let a person move freely anywhere without wires.

When controllers appeared  

By the time 1980-s came, there were already several developments that let a person immerse into new reality. When a VR headset appeared, people wanted more. All they had to do is to come up with an idea of how to manage the objects in a new reality. VR history was moving on.   

VPL Research company created the first VR reality glove. It let a user to twist and turn VR objects. It was a real breakthrough in the modern technology industry. Next, they tried to use joysticks and gamepads.  

What happened next

Next, VR moved to game industry. The developers came up with Sega VR headset which set off mass distribution. The companies began to develop their own technologies, but they slowed down a little with VR.   

In 2010, VR came back and captured the PC world. Palmer Luckey and John Carmack created a new prototype of Oculus Rift. In these days, this invention progresses in leaps and bounds.   

Today, VR equipment reached serious heights. Widescreen resolution, realistic graphics and powerful sound provide full immersion into metaverse. The history of VR technologies is still moving on. You can become its part right now with WARSTATION.

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