The History Of Virtual Reality

About the author
Michael Justin Allen Sexton & Matthieu Lamelot, Kevin Carbotte, Alex Davies

Michael Justin Allen Sexton is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He covers hardware component news, specializing in CPUs and motherboards.

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  • Nuckles_56
    Thanks for such an informative read, I never realized that the history of VR went so far back and that there were so many units in the 1990's as well
  • Virtual reality has no future just like no one cares about 3D TV. Sounds cool but it is meh. Toms hardware should move on and talk about something else.
  • deathcall666
    Youre wrong freak777power , 3D tv fails because television itselft is a dying industry. Older men uses tv more frequently the teenagers and they cant make the diference between a 3D or old tube TV anyways.
    Pc gaming is however not dying , and VR is just begining a new era.
  • stackedoverpass
    @deathcall666 No its not like it. 2D sales in the cinema dwarf 3D gimmick tickets. The same analogy can be applied on VR. When 3D TVs came out, TV were booming and big and next frontier seemed to be 3D. VR going to be flop like LCD watches
  • cats_Paw
    VR is still in its infant stages.
    For VR to be FULLY inmersive we need:

    1. eye tracking for realistic viewing angles
    2. high fidelity panels (LED and OLED are not yet).
    3. A way to be able to "move" in the environment (some projects are out there, not done yet).
    4. Kinetic gloves that will allow us to "feel" something we touch/pick up in a game.
    5. Accurate positinal audio.
    6. near 0 latency.

    So, its looking good? yes Its going forward? Yes.
    Are we there yet?
    Not even close.
  • hdmark
    I think it really depends on how you view VR. If you look at it for purely gaming... I don't see it being big just yet. another few years when its cheaper maybe, but not yet.

    But where most people are wrong when they compare VR to 3D TV's is that VR has a HUGE application base outside of gaming. Industries around the world are already using VR and the more developed VR and AR get, the more applications it will be used for.
    The two major examples I keep thinking of in my head are in the medical and construction fields. Im 99% sure they are already using VR hooked up with robotics to do some surgeries. and in the construction field... well imagine workers wearing hardhats with VR . Not only would it be able to alert them quicker of dangers, they would also have readouts of what they are working on. They don't need to go check blueprints anymore and diagrams, if they have a 3D model in front of them where everything should go
  • IInuyasha74
    151198 said:
    VR is still in its infant stages. For VR to be FULLY inmersive we need: 1. eye tracking for realistic viewing angles 2. high fidelity panels (LED and OLED are not yet). 3. A way to be able to "move" in the environment (some projects are out there, not done yet). 4. Kinetic gloves that will allow us to "feel" something we touch/pick up in a game. 5. Accurate positinal audio. 6. near 0 latency. So, its looking good? yes Its going forward? Yes. Are we there yet? Not even close.


    Actually in one form or another we have all of that except the kinetic gloves. What really needs to happen is it all needs compacted down into one device. That is starting to happen, but still a little ways off.
  • TX_Tech
    A local arcade had the Virtuality 1000CS back in the 90s, I remember playing it a few times, but it was expensive per game, so not as much as I wanted.

    It wasn't perfect, but it was better than much of what came next.
  • TX_Tech
    Quote:
    Thanks for such an informative read, I never realized that the history of VR went so far back and that there were so many units in the 1990's as well


    I'm 40, so I remember many of these devices. The younger 20 year olds today often think this is all new, but it really isn't. The devices have better resolution and wireless is a thing now, but the old problems still exist.

    The real dream is the Holodeck, I remember 1987 and watching ST:TNG in first run and being wowed by that, thinking "my lord, that would be amazing, I want it!", but as time has marched on, I've come to accept that it won't happen in my lifetime.

    VR is a nice idea, but I think execution is going to be the problem. Because everyone has a monitor and most people don't have VR, it won't get the type of broad support it needs to become something. And frankly, I don't think most people WANT to put a big device on their heads.
  • Amdlova
  • Utopiah
    Well... I have no clue if VR will flop again or not, I can't read the future of wide market adoption unlike others here apparently, without even justifying their prediction.

    What I can say though is that :
    - when I put my cheap Cardboard I feel somewhere else.
    - when I tried again the Vive Pre yesterday I felt somewhere else and I can interact in there.

    That's just, to me, amazing. Since the technology WILL keep on improving because it's tightly linked to progress of smartphones I'm quite confident that if today already I'm amazed tomorrow will be... gosh I can't wait!
  • beoza
    I would have to say that VR for the time being is a fad. Not so much with consumers but with the tech companies, they all see an oppurtunity to make money on something that may fizzle out in the eyes of the consumer. I can see many uses for this tech beyond gaming/entertainment which seems to be where all the focus is at at the moment for most of these companies. I can see this being used in exploration via rovers/uav's, engineering, medical, forensics, and defense applications; and I would think that it's already used in some of these fields to some degree.

    It is definitely interesting technology, but it is still even after all these years still in its infancy...well no it's past that stage, lets say in it's teens, it's ever changing, with new developments being made every week. I am excited to see where this tech goes.
  • bit_user
    In the category of not-quite-VR tech from the 90's, I quite enjoyed Crystal Eyes' consumer version of their stereoscopic LCD shutter glasses. As with more recent 3D TVs using the same tech, ghosting was a bit of an issue. And game support was almost nonexistent. But the few games that did support it were everything I'd hoped.

    To this day, I still seek out 3D blu-rays and I tried a range of 3D games on my PS3. But the biggest problem with stereoscopic PS3 games is lower framerate & higher latency. So, it's good for things like driving games, but that's about it. Luckily, low latency is a hard requirement for VR (otherwise people get sick).