History of VR: From Lucid Dreaming to Sci-Fi Tech

Ever had those dreams when in the middle of it you become aware of it being a dream and tried to shift its direction to your will? It’s called lucid dreaming. Although people usually wake themselves up if you remain sleeping, you can do anything you want to. If you think about it, lucid dreaming bears a strong resemblance to VR. Not just in similarity, but in science too. Virtual reality users are known to be more susceptible to enter a state of lucid dreaming because it essentially alters your nature of consciousness.

Stereoscope: The Beginning of a New Reality

Virtual reality didn’t just pop up on our radar out of nowhere. It actually began with 3D images superimposed by using slightly different versions of otherwise indistinguishable images. The reason it worked was that the altered versions of 2D images are processed by brain into a single 3D object. Users felt a sense of depth and immersion in the image when they viewed stereoscopic images placed side by side.

VR Journey: From Sword of Damocles to Nintendo Virtual Boy

Invention of stereoscope proved to be oil to fire the engine of immersive tech as it became an avid interest of inventors and scientists to create machines that would build an immersive environment. That’s when Sensorama appeared on the map with its unique 4D experience and marked a turning point in history of VR.

With an entirely new concept of head-mounted display that connected to a computer instead of a camera, Sword of Damocles laid foundation for HMDs to come in future. But its intimidating contraption and bulky wear made it difficult to use.

Following the VR hype, Nintendo launched Virtual Boy in a limited series release in Japan and North America only. Though it could display true 3D graphics, the only colors it could display the games in were black and red. Since there was no software support and the fact that it was extremely uncomfortable to use, the product failed and was discontinued by Nintendo.

Sci-Fi: Dawn of a New Era

Pygmalion’s Spectacles was the first sci-fi story that pitched the idea of using goggles to experience a world other than the real one in 1930s. But it wasn’t until Matrix was released that VR was picked up again as a potentially revolutionary technology. Just recently, Ready Player One created a huge splash in the market. But while previously there was a huge difference in sci-fi world and real tech, technology in the futuristic dystopia and current technology is not that far off.

From stereoscope images to BCIs, VR has definitely come a long way. Over the course of recent couple of decades, the plain and impractical gadgetry of VR has now become highly sophisticated and interactive. Not only can latest VR gear display 1080p, but it also lets you track your motion, and enjoy immersive experiences that are getting more and more realistic with time.

The best part is that VR is still a developing field and is getting updates every year. Let’s see what changes we’ll see in the next five years.

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