As mentioned in the first post for my digital artefact, i will be teaching myself how to create VR Spaces using Unreal Engine. My artefact will be a blog series, explaining the processes i undertook to create basic elements of VR. Each post will outline what i was attempting to design, what the outcome of my attempt was. It will also discuss what worked, what didn’t work and what i need to improve on for the next attempt. I will use the skills and knowledge from each trial to work towards creating some sort of virtual environment.
After class discussion it was determined that the easiest virtual reality space to create would be a building or room rather then a landscape. This is because buildings and rooms are very structured and made of basic shapes, and elements can be dragged and dropped from already created content in the software. In the last blog of the series i aim to create a post that discusses the important tools, considerations and features i learnt about creating Virtual Reality. As my laptop crashed i have yet been able to get started in the creating process, i am planning on starting within the next week as my laptop will be fixed shortly.
In order to further my understanding of virtual reality, it was suggested that i look into the history of VR. Many have dubbed 2016 as the year of Virtual reality, and while it may be one of the hottest things in technology right now, virtual reality actually has a long history.
A Brief History of Virtual Reality:
If we look at the broader scope of virtual reality as a means of creating an illusion of being somewhere else then the first instance of virtual reality is panoramic paintings. They are intended to fill the entire field of vision of the viewer, aiming to make them feel like they are at the scene presented to them.
1838 — Stereoscopic photos & viewers
Charles Wheatstone’s research showed that the brain processes the different images from each eye to create a 3-dimensional image. This research lead to the development of stereoscopic viewers; where two images were viewed side by side through a stereoscope, giving the user a sense of depth and immersion. (photo source)
1929 — Link Trainer The First Flight Simulator
Edward Link created the ‘link trainer’ the first example of a flight stimulator that was completely electromechanical. It used motors to mimic turbulence and other disturbances; it was used for pilots to train and improve their skills, particularly for those in the military.
1950s —Morton Heilig’s Sensorama
Cinematographer Morton Heilig developed the Sensorama, an arcade style theatre cabinet which stimulated all the senses. The sensorama featured a stereoscopic display, stereo speakers, smell generators, fans and a vibrating chair; all used to provide an immersive film experience. (photo source)
1960 — The first VR Head Mounted Displays
In 1960 Heilig invented the first head mounted display (HMD) the “Telesphere mask”. It was a non-interactive headset that utilised stereoscopic displays and stereo sound. In 1961, two Philco engineers developed the first HMD that used motion tracking systems, called “headsight”. Through the use of magnetic motion tracking systems, headsight enabled users (military personnel) to look around the environment by using head movements to move a remote camera. The headsight is the precursor for VR HMDs as we know them today.
1968 — Sword of Damocles
Ivan Sutherland created the first VR head mounted display that was connected to a computer, rather than a camera. It was a large contraption that was too heavy to wear so it was suspended from the roof. The graphics generated were basic wireframe rooms and objects.
1993 — SEGA announce new VR glasses
Sega announced the Sega VR headset for the Sega Genesis console. The prototype was a wrap around glasses that featured head motion tracking, LCD screens and stereo sound. Despite creating 4 games for the headset, technical developmental issues meant that the Sega VR headset would remain a prototype.
1995 — Nintendo Virtual Boy
The Nintendo Virtual Boy was a 3D gaming console that was promoted as the first ever portable console that displayed 3D graphics. The games were all in red and black which users said gave them headaches. The Virtual Boy was discontinued the following year due to a lack in software support and its uncomfortable use.
While I’ve only outlined a brief history of VR, you can check out the following video for a more detailed timeline of VR. To increase my knowledge on virtual reality, i intend to further research the main requirements needed to make virtual reality environments successful, as well as looking into the negatives of virtual reality.
Brown, L. (2017). A brief history of virtual reality. [online] Wondershare. <https://filmora.wondershare.com/virtual-reality/history-of-vr.html>
Brown, L. (2017). Virtual Reality: Current State and Future Challenges. [online] Wondershare. <https://filmora.wondershare.com/virtual-reality/virtual-reality-technology-current-state-and-future-challenges.html>
Sherman, W. and Craig, A. (2002). Understanding virtual reality. 1st ed. San Francisco, CA: Elsevier.
Virtual Reality. (n.d.). History Of Virtual Reality – Virtual Reality. [online] < https://www.vrs.org.uk/virtual-reality/history.html>