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The Complete History of VR – Part 23: The One

The Complete History of VR – Part 23: The One

The Complete History of VR – Part 23: The One

If angry press people weren’t enough to scare people off using VR technology the Wachowski siblings sure finished off the job. In 1999 the film The Matrix hits theatres. The film features characters that are living in a fully simulated world, with many completely unaware that they do not live in the real world. Although some previous films had dabbled in depicting virtual reality, such as Tron in 1982 and Lawnmower Man in 1992, The Matrix has a major cultural impact and brought the topic of simulated reality into the mainstream.

In the movie, it is explained that the machines first tried to create an ideal virtual world for the humans to believe in. But it didn’t work – the human mind wasn’t built for handling an ideal world. For the Matrix to work, it has to be somehow miserable. You could easily say this was a reference to virtual reality as a whole because it offered perfect, beautiful worlds when all we really wanted was shooting games that weren’t to come until several years later.

Also in 1999, entrepreneur Philip Rosedale formed Linden Lab with an initial focus on the development of VR hardware. In its earliest form, the company struggled to produce a commercial version of “The Rig”, which was realized in prototype form as a clunky steel contraption with several computer monitors that users could wear on their shoulders. The concept was later adapted into the personal computer-based, 3D virtual world program Second Life.

Medical professionals also investigated using VR for surgical training when compared to traditional training. The results indicated that the VR group performed significantly better than the traditional group which validated that VR training moving forward and those 1999 studies still stand the test of time now.

Also in VR industry news this year Ford started to work with various VR and AR firms to help develop new tools for making and moulding their cards. Elizabeth Baron, a virtual reality and advanced visual technology specialist at Ford started working with VR in 1999, long before Oculus ever came alone. VR changed the way Ford made vehicles through its product development and manufacturing processes. Baron said the company built fewer physical models and created more virtual models even back in 1999 proving that VR and indeed later on AR could be used as a tool for saving money, not just throwing it away.

Sure, this wasn’t a golden year for virtual reality, but it was far from its death. In fact, it was an OK year with many companies working to develop the technology rather than ending it. Sure, the early 2000s seemed like a VR wasteland, but if you looked beneath the sands of time you will find it was there all along.

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