A Modern VR History Lesson

June 15, 2017 by Sam Slater

When people hear Virtual Reality, most think about video games or the entertainment industry. There’s no reason to blame people for this impression, the lion’s share of attention VR receives is for gaming, but VR has extended well beyond gaming and entertainment and become much more multidimensional in terms of its application. Another common misconception about VR technology is how long it has been around.

It’s older than you think

Believe it or not, people have been exploring the concept of virtual reality for about half a century. The earliest pieces of VR hardware began to emerge in the early 1960’s. The Sensorama, for example, was roughly the size of a phone booth and worked on analog technology. Despite the Sensorama’s primitivity, it is widely considered to be first ever piece of virtual or augmented reality hardware. It weighed hundreds pounds, quite the contrast between today’s wearable VR headsets.

Breaking into Industry

Between 1970 and 1990, VR was still not readily available to consumers and was being sold as tools for industries. Flight, medical and military simulators were the primary output of the VR industry of that time. The industry’s ability to reach consumers was hindered by the relative weakness personal computers of that time, which were also much less accessible. There were some early dabblers in gaming, but it was clear that the power of digital computing needed to be extensively elevated before virtual reality would be widely available to individual consumers.

Consumer Availability

The Gaming Industry definitely deserves its credit for putting virtual reality in the hands of the consumer in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. The technology wasn’t highly advanced but the concept of consumer-targeted VR hardware and software would begin its road to fruition. Move forward a decade to where consumer VR technology is now and you’ll see products that aren’t necessarily cheap, but still accessible. While the advanced hardware such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive doesn’t exactly go for pocket change, a cardboard VR headset from google only sets one back fifteen dollars.

Exploring New Applications

The excitement generated from VR’s recent surge in the consumer marketplace has inspired innovators from various industries to see how they can apply this new trend to their own sector. Concept3D sought to be the brand that brought VR to the interactive mapping world, and make it a staple of the hospitality industry, as well as in higher education. It’s clear that this technology is moving up and to the right, but it still lacks in general accessibility. By integrating VR into their existing platforms, C3D wants to do their part to make tech that was previously highly exclusive, available to the masses.

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