Unfolding the Mystery and History of VR

 

The heat is slowly picking up and everyone is bragging about the VR technology which is steadying its feet in India as well. But but, what the heck is this VR? Well, I think it could be described as something like experiencing a dream. Yeah, I know… You already see a lot of dreams, so why would you want to experience another one? It might sound a little crazy, but surely dreams and a VR experience have a lot in common. Dreams are subjective and so is a VR experience, dreams cannot be shared and explained just like a VR experience cannot be universalized.

So, did I manage to confuse you more? Yay! Mission successful.

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Now the task at hand is, to actually explain to you what VR is and what it does to you. Basically, VR allows you to be as lazy as you would want to be. Like, you can literally experience the beaches of Goa or hang around your favorite stars or go on that scary roller coaster, without having to move an inch from your couch. Sounds fun right??? It definitely is!  Like the name says, it is virtual yet real. In general terms, VR or Virtual Reality means presenting our senses with a virtual environment which is free to be explored.

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Getting on the technical side, Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer technology that replicates an environment, real or imagined, and simulates a user’s physical presence and environment to allow for user interaction. The most common way today to immerse in a Virtual Reality experience is by using a headgear or as the techies say, a “Head Mounted Display” (HMD) which stimulates our senses together to create an illusion of reality. When software, hardware and sense stimulation is in perfect coordination, the user feels as if he/she is a part of the environment.

Let’s have a quick flashback to the history of VR.

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It all started in 1965 when Ivan Sutherland created the “Ultimate Display” while the military was simultaneously busy in researching the VR’s potential for flight simulation and training. Though the industry saw various developments in the coming decades, but the appeal was limited to the ambitious engineers due to its cost. Not so long ago as well, a decent virtual reality device cost over $50,000 which obviously made it out of the reach of an average consumer.

So, how did the scenario change so much over these years?

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Well, all thanks to Palmer Luckey. Palmer, one of the America’s richest young entrepreneurs created his first VR prototype in his parents’ garage in 2011, at the young age of 18.  Who knew that a garage creation would lead to the formation of Oculus VR? His invention Oculus Rift changed the picture of Virtual Reality. The Kickstarter campaign to make the gear reach fellow VR enthusiasts was way too successful, raising US$2.4 million or 974% of its original target.  After expanding to a large number of employees and a nice office space, another wheel was turned with Oculus VR’s acquisition by Facebook in 2014. An acquisition which would go down the history.

While Facebook was at work to make VR popular amongst masses, heavyweights like Samsung, Google and others took notice and invested heavily in this catching trend. Now, the market is flooded with consumer-ready VR devices, running the gamut in terms of prices and accessibility.

 

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