As with all modern innovations, recognizing where technology began and how its grown is the best way to predict where it will go in the future. In regards to virtual reality, this couldn’t be more true. Though the hype of leaps and bounds this piece of tech has made in the last decade is very real, advancements in development have been present for years, some even dating back to a time before the Civil War.
In 1839, English scientist and inventor Charles Wheatstone introduced a curious contraption. He called it the Stereoscope, a device that could transport the viewer to entirely different worlds. Based on the understandings of the human eye and taking full advantage of optical illusion science, the stereoscope allowed users to view a pair of separate images, one for each eye, to create a distant and larger 3D image. Over 150 years later, children in the 1990’s were enjoying their brand new Nintendo Virtual Boys, jam packed with modern tech but retaining a similar and iconic headset design, much like the first stereoscope. Though considered a lackluster portable console, the Virtual Boy didn’t last long on the market, but instead inspired a new generation to succeed where this imaginative the device failed. Today we have the Oculus Rift and the Vive standing as modern testaments to the experiments, both successful and unsuccessful, of the past.
Where there is imagination, innovation is never far behind. Take a look at this infographic for more on the history behind our VR headsets, where it began, what it meant for other areas of tech advances, and what we can learn from its decades spent in development.