From Stereographs To VR Porn

The immersive virtual reality entertainment of today is preceded by many years of incessant development. In fact, the first examples date back to 150 years ago. Here are the main stages in the development of immersive technology.

  1. Stereography

In 1838, British scientist Charles Wheatstone described a peculiar illusion he had encountered. He had taken two drawings of the same object made from slightly different perspectives and viewed each one through a different eye. As a result, his brain assembled the images into a 3D view.

In essence, this explains how human vision works, as each eye perceives a different perspective. Wheatstone’s special table-size device sent a unique image to each of the viewer’s eyes. This was the first stereoscope in history.

Later, the design was improved by David Brewster, who created a hand-held device that was raised to the eye level. A special card with stereo images (drawings or photographs) was inserted — and the scene came alive.

  1. Sensorama

Humans continued to seek immersion in imaginary worlds, and new technology followed. The Sensorama machine, released in 1956, became the first example of multi-sensory technology. The involvements of several human senses was achieved through the use of different structural elements: a motional chair, a stereo-sound system, a color display, odor emitters, and fans.

Back then, the immersive experience simulated a motorcycle ride in an urban environment. The “rider” would see the road, hear the engine, feel the vibration, and smell the exhaust fumes.

  1. Head-mounted and tactile devices

Morton Heilig, the Sensorama creator, later patented a display device dubbed the Telesphere Mask. In the 1960s, Ivan Sutherland presented “the Ultimate Display”, a device that was supposed to be a “window into a virtual world.”

The next two decades saw new optical advances and haptic (i.e., involving touch) devices. NASA Ames Research Center presented its VIEW system, which added gloves to the gear set.

  1. Jaron Lanier

This man is regarded as the founding father of VR. His company VPL Research, Inc. established in 1985 was the pioneer in the commercialization of the sphere, as well as mass selling of goggles and gloves. After the Sun Microsystems purchased the patents, and the technology developed further.

The first attempts at creating VR headsets were made in the 1990s. However,  the technology did not take off until the crowdfunding campaign for Oculus Rift in 2012. Since then, multiple headsets have hit the market, from the more sophisticated HTC Vive and Playstation VR to the cheap Google Cardboard.

  1. VR porn

Traditionally, pornographers have always been quick to embrace and commercialize new technology. VR was no exception. In fact, virtual reality porn is regarded as the driving factor behind all the recent developments in the field.  

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