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When did virtual reality appear and how has it evolved over the years?

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

What is and how does virtual reality work?

In the first phase, we should establish some basic notions. How can we combine two terms that essentially seem to be opposites: "reality" and "virtual"? Well, the answer is pretty simple. VR technology gives us access to a limitless reality built in a three-dimensional virtual environment. It can contain both functional elements, generated graphically, and real elements scanned with the help of special technologies that we will use in future articles. To all, this equation must be added to the human senses involved in the process but also equipment used for this purpose. When we talk about VR equipment, we mainly refer to a headset that allows the playback of the virtual world, to which gloves or controllers and omnidirectional treadmills can be added for a more complete experience in terms of the senses. For most of us, VR technology was leisurely presented through the movie Avatar. Of course, with many more SF inserts, which remain science fiction for now. But who knows?

The beginnings of VR technology

When we talk about virtual reality we automatically think of a pair of glasses, be they Oculus Rift or even the classic Google Cardboard. But what if we told you that this technology has its foundations in 1962? Is that so!? How is it possible, given that the first e-mail in history was sent only in 1971? Not to mention the first website launched in 1991. So, we introduce you to Sensorama, the so-called "grandfather" of VR technology today and also one of the first multi-sensory machines. It included a stereoscopic color screen, fans, odor emitters, stereo sound system, and a mobile chair. For the curious, with its help, it was possible to simulate a motorcycle ride through New York. However, given the features, the user could feel the wind that hit him from the front but also the specific smells of city life depending on the obstacles he encountered or the places he approached in the simulation. Pretty SF for that time, right?

The evolution of VR technology

After the appearance of the impressive Sensorama we were talking about earlier, technological evolution continued to bring impressive products to the public. In addition to the video game industry, virtual reality has begun to take its place in the tourism market. Google has reached one of the highest peaks in this direction with the launch of the Street View concept. Thus, anyone who owned a device with internet access had the opportunity to walk around the world, but not in real-time.

Since 2010, companies such as Oculus (later purchased by Facebook), Google, Sony, or Samsung, among many others, have begun to focus more and more on the development of technologies involving virtual reality. In all these years, countless types of equipment have appeared that have VR as a central point. From simple cardboard glasses with a phone holder to the latest type of headset from Oculus, they are all meant to innovate and simplify the way people live. After the pandemic that hit the planet in 2020, I think we can all agree that VR technology can save time, can save countless areas culminating in education, and especially can save lives. And we, like you, are eager to find out where all this innovative technology will end up, and who knows, maybe in a few years, we will all see ourselves in a new world, maybe a virtual one.

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