The History of Augmented and Virtual Reality
By 2022, 3.5 billion AR devices are expected to be in use.

The History of Augmented and Virtual Reality

By 2022, 3.5 billion AR devices are expected to be in use.

By 2020, ⅓ of global consumers are expected to be using VR

It’s easy to feel like AR and VR have popped into our lives overnight—but their development has been a long time coming.

The Origins of AR & VR

Invented by Charles Wheatstone
Allowed users to view a pair of separate images for each eye, creating a seemingly distant and larger 3D image

Invented by Thomas Edison and William Dickson
Sent a piece of film between a lens and a light bulb while the user peered through a peephole showing images at 46 FPS

Link Trainer Flight Simulator
Developed by Edwin Link of the Link Piano and Organ Company
Fuselage that simulated plane movement, cockpit enclosure, and realistic dangers of air travel through pneumatic pumps

Science Fiction: Pygmalion’s Spectacles
Sci-fi story written by Stanley G. Weinbaum
Described pair of goggles that allows people to experience virtual senses including sight, smell, touch, and taste

Developed by William Gruber and Harold Graves
Stereoscopic 3D photo viewer introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair as an update to the scenic postcard

Beginning in the mid- to late 20th century, AR and VR as we know them today truly truly took off

Breakthroughs of the Late 20th Century

Telesphere Mask
Developed by Morton Heilig, cinematographer and VR pioneer
First ever head-mounted display (HMD), which used stereoscopic technology, 3D imagery, widescreen vision, and stereo sound

Developed by Philco Corporation engineers
First motion-tracking HMD that took pictures and was designed to allow remote viewing of dangerous situations by the military

Sensorama and Motorcycle Simulator
Developed by Morton Heilig
3D-equipped booth that produced sensations to simulate real experiences, such as a vibrating seat and the smell of hot dog stalls to simulate riding a motorcycle through New York

Sword of Damocles
Developed by Ivan Sutherland
Primitive and heavy headset that was suspended from the ceiling, which earned it its name from the Greek myth

Sayre Glove
Created by scientists at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois
The first wired glove, which turned finger movement into electrical signals

Power Glove and DataGlove
Created by Thomas G. Zimmerman and Jaron Lanier
Gloves used an optical flex sensor and ultrasonic and magnetic hand position tracking technology

Air Force Super Cockpit Program
Designed and directed by Thomas Furness
HMD that projected computer-generated 3D maps, infrared and radar imagery, and avionics data to create a simulated aircraft that pilots could operate with gestures and eye movements

Virtual Interface Environment Workstation (V.I.E.W.)
Developed by NASA in partnership with VPL Research, Inc.
HMD that showed a CGI environment or a real environment relayed from remote video cameras and used DataGlove and DataSuit clothing

Virtuality Group Arcade Machines
Developed by Dr. Jonathan D Waldern and W Industries
Used magnetic stereoscopic visors, joysticks, and networked units for multiplayer gaming in stand-up and sit-down pod variants

Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE)
First developed by Chicago Electronic Visualization Laboratory
Room in which realistic visuals are projected from outside and controlled by user movement inside through motion capture, stereoscopic LCD shutter glasses, and mirrors

Virtual Boy
Developed by Nintendo designer Gunpei Yokoi
This failed portable video game console simulated red and black 3-D images through a visor connected to a handheld controller

From the clunky first generation headsets of the 1960s to the over 250 sleek options available on Amazon today, it’s clear AR and VR have come a long way in a short time

The 21st Century and The Future


The AR and VR Market:

Google Cardboard: $15
Samsung Gear: $129.99
NVIDIA 3D Vision 2: $141.91
Sony’s Playstation VR: $299.00
Oculus Rift: $399.00
HTC VIVE: $499.99
Lampix tabletop AR: $599.00
Magic Leap One: $2,295
Microsoft HoloLens for Developers: $3,000

What the Future Looks LikeWays AR & VR Are Changing the World

Giving students virtual field trips, language immersion, and game-based learning

Enhancing environments for more striking pictures

Public Safety
Training first responders, law enforcement, and firefighters

Allowing real-time, hands-on collaboration on projects

Providing accessible therapy, reducing pain, and virtual trips

Sending users immersive directions they can follow without a map

The history of AR and VR is still being written, and innovations are leading to breakthroughs in industry after industry―put on a headset and see where the future takes you.



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