Virtual Reality concept

Virtual Reality might seem to be a completely fresh concept, but the truth is that its roots go much deeper than 21st century. Attempts to create completely immersive imitations of reality started to be created much earlier, as they go back to 19th century even.

The age of Tolstoy and Dickens gave us panoramic paintings that filled the viewer's entire field of vision, creating an illusion of being transported into the scene depicted. What is more, in 1838 British researcher Charles Wheatstone has discovered that two-dimensional images are processed by the brain from each eye to create a three dimensional vision. Wheatstone has used his discovery to create stereoscope images that gave the viewers then-unprecedented sense of depth and immersion.

However, the development of predecessors to Virtual Reality only really took off in the 20th century. In the 1929, Edward Link has created the first commercial flight simulator. It was entirely electromechanical and offered a simulation of turbulence and disturbances – a very advanced device for its time which was deemed very useful by the US military.

In the 1950s, the cinematographer Morton Heilig developed an invention named Sensorama - a theatre cabinet that integrated smell generators and a vibrating chair in order to stimulate senses other than sight and sound. In the next decade, Heilig also created the first head-mounted display which displayed stereoscopic 3D images. However, it lacked motion tracking, which was introduced in 1961 in the HMD device called the Headsight. There were a few more such inventions created in the 20th century, but the very term „virtual reality” was only introduced in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, many video game companies introduced VR headsets that could be used for gaming, but were unfortunately not yet developed enough to catch fire.

Right now, virtual reality is growing at an increasing clip. No longer considered a fad, it is now being used in a wide variety of fields – video games, obviously, but also for instance in virtual architecture walkthrough services (Sitopoland's architectural visualization is a great example).