Virtual reality as we know it today has evolved greatly since its initial inception in the 1950’s. We now have some awesome virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR that immerse us in beautiful and mind-boggling virtual worlds. Furthermore, developers have created some epic apps and games such as RYOT VR, Robo Recall, Minecraft VR and Hover Junkers that allow us to use VR technology in new and interesting ways. So when did this technology take off? When did it become popular and available to the general public? This article looks at the evolution of virtual reality, and when it really started to take off!
Early VR explosion – 1990’s and consumer headsets
Up until the 90’s, there had been a variety of virtual reality developments but nothing standout or truly ground-breaking that the public could use and enjoy. Pre 90’s, the VR industry was mainly focused on simulation technology for medical, military and aviation usage.
The 90’s saw the first explosion of VR technology and this decade brought numerous new developments and saw the potential for mass-produced VR technology for consumer usage. The first cubic immersive room was created for example which allowed users to stand within a room full of projections and use their own actions to interact in a VR world. Furthermore, console developer SEGA actually released the Sega VR headset for their Mega Drive gaming console and this prompted other gaming developers such as Nintendo to also release their own VR based technology.
Aside from this, the 90’s also saw the first development of virtual reality supported games such as Descent, Star Wars: Dark Forces, Virtual Boy, and Quake. Much of what transpired in this decade paved the way for the true birth of modern virtual reality in the 2000’s and today.
Modern VR explosion – 2000’s and widespread consumer creations
From 2007 onwards, virtual reality technology really began to take off in a big way. Google Street View, although not strictly virtual reality was an absolutely monumental release in 2007 and allowed people to zoom through the world and even streets in a way that was never before possible. Furthermore, the technology included 3D mapping.
After this development, the first modern VR headset prototype was created in 2010 which would later be known as the hugely popular Oculus Rift. This headset had groundbreaking technology and offered users a 90-degree vision which up until this point was unheard of. From this point onwards the floodgate was opened and a large number of companies started to push money and research into virtual reality technology.
In today’s VR industry, we now have hundreds of companies creating VR technology and the future certainly looks promising as features such as eye-tracking, external body-tracking and even a 140-degree field of view are in development. The latter part of the 2010’s really has seen an explosion of virtual reality technology and many consider this to be the turning point that allowed the myriad of products we have today.