Virtual Reality: Origins

The Theater and its Double was a 1938 book by French playwright Antonin Artaud, the first-ever record of the word ‘virtual reality. A reality that was both illusionary and fictitious.

The 1950s saw inventor Morton Helig working on a projection booth with 3D images and sound, a moving seat and smells/sensations of the road to give an impression that the person on the seat was riding a motorcycle, trying to give the first taste of virtual reality. It never went into production.

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Virtual reality was termed somatic cognition and also augmented reality over the years, but the term Virtual Reality or VR stuck, popularized in the 1980s by Jaron Lanier, a gifted music composer, author and Time Magazine’s 100-most-influential-People honoree.

He developed a virtual reality headpiece with a glove, a technology that used a virtual space called ‘cyberspace’ where virtual objects were manipulated.

Star Trek: Uses And Pop Culture Of Virtual Reality
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation TV series (the one with Captain Picard) had the holodeck, a place where anything imaginable was experienced, like a past memory.
  • The 2009 movie Avatar used virtual reality as the main storyline.
  • The real world now uses virtual reality to tackle real-world problems, like doctors learning to use surgical instruments, for example.
  • The military uses simulated war games to train soldiers for the real thing.

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