A woman wearing virtual reality helmet and a glove

Virtual Reality Nostalgia

Once upon a time, when I was a small kid, I used to read lots of sci-fi books. I was fascinated and overwhelmed by the non-existing future technologies (remember, these were 1980’s) described in the books such as teleports, hologram calls with a face projected in the air and others. When 1990’s came, comics magazines started to flow in the just liberated free market and again, comics took me by surprise indulging me into the fantastic devices of the future.

A woman wearing virtual reality helmet and a glove

“Virtual reality” term (abbreviation: VR) started to appear a lot by 1994 with new devices designed for somewhat personal use as extension for computer games. Virtual reality gained prominence in the film industry as well with The Lawnmower Man (originally written by Stephen King) depicting kind of primitive virtual reality from today’s perspective.

While visiting The National Museum of Science and Industry in London I finally got a chance to try virtual reality myself. A helmet and a joystick were handed to me (although an interactive glove used to be a norm by then) and I became a train driver. The four pounds I paid for the experience were worth of it – feeling of being able to turn my head and seeing different train controls or just buildings passing by was something so overwhelming, I could remember it even today.

I know, we have the 3D IMAX cinemas today and special glasses are the only thing required, but the whole computer business has somehow forgotten about virtual reality as once desired. There are not enough makers of virtual reality devices (helmets and gloves), although the market of gamers exists. Sadly, the trend is to move console game players in the direction of no devices whatsoever (WII or next generation console from Microsoft with external sensors only). I found it weird to hold a small piece of game controller imagining it is a steering wheel or a tennis racket.

Virtual reality used to be much more advanced than what console producers feed us today with.

  • Escondido

    I am still waiting for VR to actually come into use. Many computer makers dropped their work in the 1990s. Jaron Lanier appears to have given up and is sticking to music. I had great hope for graphics companies (Adobe, Autodesk, etc.) to come up with something, but alas, none did. I think some basic VR is being used by Boeing, the US Air Force, etc., but nothing on a grand scale.