Virtual Reality - In the Beginning

Curriculum: Virtual and Augmented Reality
Published: 2020-02-05
Virtual Reality - In the Beginning

Virtual reality, or VR for short, is the term used to describe a three-dimensional, computer generated environment.  Humans can experience virtual reality by donning a headset, and selecting an application in which they would like to explore and interact.  There are copious applications to choose from.  There are travel VR applications that can virtually transport you to another place in the world without leaving your easy chair.  There are other more interactive applications, such as sports, shooter, and racing games that can be very stimulating and realistic.  New applications are constantly being created for VR.

How did this all get started?  Well, many point to the 1980's to identify the genesis of VR, but to be fair the concepts of virtual reality go back much further in time.

A key aspect of VR is that the "world" it renders is three dimensional.  The theory of how VR mimics a 3D image that fools the human brain traces back to 1832.  Then, Charles Wheatstone created the stereoscope, a viewing device, and a method of creating "pictorial content" that gave the viewing person the impression that they were seeing a three dimensional image.  This was seven years before photography was invented, so all the pictures for the stereoscope were hand drawn.

Photography turned the stereoscope into a powerful media which allowed people to discover the world at a time when traveling was expensive and even risky.  One could view the Parthenon, the Pyramids, a Paris cafe and countless other scenes by using the stereoscope. 

Some companies jumped into creating catalogs of pictures for viewing.  Starting in 1892, the Keystone View Company produced thousand of images of people and places from the United States and around the world. The photos are of historical, social, cultural, and geographic interest. The company was founded by BL Singley, an amateur photographer who began by selling glass slides of local interest.  By 1905 it was the largest stereographic company in the world. Keystone created and distributed millions of stereographs throughout the United States. In 1898 they organized their highly successful Education Department which produced boxed sets for school instruction of images and descriptive text illustrating culture, industry, commerce and politics world-wide.




Flash Card Drill

virtual reality     バーチャルリアリティ
  • I first experienced virtual reality years ago on a primitive device by a company named Oculus.  
  • 私は何年も前に、Oculusという会社の原始的なデバイスでバーチャルリアリティを初めて体験しました。
copious     豊富(ほうふ)
  • The college student took copious notes, filling page after page.  
  • 大学生はたくさんのメモを取り、ページを次々と埋めていった。
genesis     創世(そうせい)()
  • The genesis of any great idea is hard work and study.  
  • 素晴らしいアイデアの起源は、ハードワークと研究です。
  • In her autobiography, the famous songwriter describes her most popular song's genesis and profound meaning.  
  • 彼女の自伝では、有名なソングライターが彼女の最も人気のある曲の起源と深い意味を説明しています。
render     (あた)える
  • The latest VR travel application from Oculus renders beautiful images of Kyoto that are all simulations of the real place.  
  • Oculusの最新のVR旅行アプリケーションは、すべて実際の場所のシミュレーションである京都の美しい画像をレンダリングします。
stereoscope     ステレオスコープ
  • One can buy one of the original stereoscopes on Ebay for very little money, surprisingly.  
  • 驚くべきことに、Ebayでオリジナルのステレオスコープの1つをごくわずかなお金で購入できます。
stereograph     ステレオグラフ
  • In the early 1900's there were many companies creating stereographs on both paper and glass.  
  • 1900年代初頭には、紙とガラスの両方にステレオグラフを作成する多くの企業がありました。