7.31.2009

Virtual Reality is Back
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Stanford researchers are trying to get you to put those virtual reality gloves back on.

Back in the day, one of my first accounts was a Palo Alto start-up company that made virtual reality helmets and shipped them to labs all over the world, or sometimes movie studios as a kind of curio. VR was the big thing just before the Internet achieved public consciousness, which was around 1994 for the average researcher and in the mid-90's for the average user, who usually started out as an AOL subscriber. Applications for VR in the first iteration were never very useful and were expensive, though you could definitely state that the idea of integrating physical motion with computing was the conceptual precursor of the Wii.

VR even was used as a major plot device in a film, Disclosure. Donald Sutherland was the CEO of a high-tech company and the antagonist. The sub-villain was Demi Moore, and the protagonist was Michael Douglas, who got to wear the virtual reality outfit in an attempt to decode what was going on.



At the end of the day, after a variety of plot turns, Douglas was confirmed in his job as VP of Engineering.

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