Saturday 25 June 2022

All The Good VR Ideas Came From The 1960s

 I'd like to highlight an article of mine that was published a short time ago: all the truly good VR ideas were dreamt up in the 1960s.

The core of the article is to highlight that VR is a combination of simulation and interaction, and combining them effectively had to wait until the 60s, when the digital revolution and computers provided the right tools.

Here is an excerpt from my article:

In 1965 Ivan Sutherland, a computer scientist, authored an essay entitled The Ultimate Display (PDF) in which he laid out ideas far beyond what was possible with the technology of the time. One might expect The Ultimate Display to be a long document. It is not. It is barely two pages, and most of the first page is musings on burgeoning interactive computer input methods of the 60s.

The second part is where it gets interesting, as Sutherland shares the future he sees for computer-controlled output devices and describes an ideal “kinesthetic display” that served as many senses as possible. Sutherland saw the potential for computers to simulate ideas and output not just visual information, but to produce meaningful sound and touch output as well, all while accepting and incorporating a user’s input in a self-modifying feedback loop. This was forward-thinking stuff; recall that when this document was written, computers weren’t even generating meaningful sounds of any real complexity, let alone visual displays capable of arbitrary content.

 I round out the article with a list of ideas from the 60s that happened, as well as listing some that have not happened yet. I also highlight the difference between "important" features, and "cool" ones.

Give it a read, and maybe you'll come away with some new ideas or perspectives on VR, and where it is going.

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