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Can VR be used for Education to Improve Learning?

Can VR be used for Education to Improve Learning?

What is the base for a thriving society?

Education, education, education is the base for a thriving society, and the transfer of knowledge has been a top priority for civilisations since the very beginning. People are constantly looking for ways to make knowledge transfer more easily, more quickly, and more effectively.

In the era of digital devices, we have an opportunity to enable better learning with technology. Virtual Reality (VR) seems to be the natural next step for the evolution of education. ImmotionVR has a deep understanding of the benefits and versatility of VR for education.

Is education more than information?

Historically, most technologies designed to aid learning have been aimed at enabling access to information – facts and observations about the world. Before computers, we had a powerful tool that helped us retain facts: books.

While the acquisition of information has become more easily available for more people – with just a few clicks you can discover answers to many questions – the current approach to education has two significant problems:

  • It’s based on the same old format – fact retention. Teaching methods are focused on providing facts; however, having access to and consuming a lot of information isn’t learning. Being informed isn’t the same as being educated.
  • A lot of people have difficulties comprehending information. Too much information received in a short period of time can be overwhelming. As a result, students can become bored, disengaged and unsure why they are learning about a topic.

Students are far more capable of learning when they perform tasks for themselves. Whilst visual images, verbal instructions and written explanations can be a useful way of providing information, they are not highly effective tools for learning.

The human brain is only able to retain a small percentage of information, even less when the student is not stimulated. However, the method of learning still widely adopted appears to be retention, repetition and recall.

“VR for education gives us the power to scale and make learning more dynamic and engaging. A relatively small VR device can even act as a whole science lab.”  Adobe

What does VR do to the brain?

Scientific research in neuroscience and psychology has revealed the brain creates a mental map of an environment from information that is absorbed through the five senses.

The information subsequently becomes our perception of reality and the more information we take on-board the more our cognition develops. When we see something that is familiar, the brain predicts what will happen next.

However, when the brain does not have any practical experience of a situation, the reaction will be based on information that is stored in the memory.

VR for education has the ability to rewire the brain and enhance neural connections that are needed for learning and memory. In a simulated environment, the brain is seeing and doing exactly what is required – it is not filling in the gaps. As a result, students and trainees can learn quicker and more effectively.

“VR for education tech can enable more effective learning at a lower cost and in less time than many traditional learning methods.” Deloitte Insights

VR headsets are designed to totally immerse users in the virtual simulation. Their sight, hearing, smell and touch are absent from the real world thus the brain thinks the virtual world is real. Levels of sustained concentration are also enhanced while immersed in a VR environment.

Because of this the cells take in information and create “schemas” that impact how students will react to a real-world environment. Furthermore, new synapses are formed which could help students improve how people learn in other areas of their life. Transferable learning is a highly desirable skill and often necessary in the modern evolving workspace.

How does VR enhance memory?

In educational environments that use spoken and image-based learning methods, the average person will forget 50% of the information within the first hour. By the next day, we have forgotten 70% of the details and, without repetition, we only remember 10% of the information after a month.

One of the most significant attributes of VR for education is the ability to prompt emotional reactions. Because the brain believes a VR simulation is a real-life situation, the emotional reactions that are triggered heighten the user’s capacity for learning.

Studies into the role of emotions and memory have discovered that we recall situations far more easily when emotions are aroused, and not how significant an individual considers the event. The benefits of VR for education are therefore clear, particularly for learners with lower or negative opinions of the significance and value of traditional education.

A US study asked participants to perform a task using a VR headset and then again using their own coordination. When participants used VR headsets, the results engineered an 8.8% improvement in memory performance. Statistically, in an educational assessment setting, this is significant.

How does VR make users more “present”?

Research at the University of Regensburg found the most effective methods of teaching using VR was when the user’s emotions are aroused. Researchers also made a connection between learning curves and how present, or involved, users were during their experience. 

Students that are not engaged retain less information and are less prepared to apply the knowledge they do have to real-life situations.

Immersive VR simulations are enhanced to be interactive so that users are more present. Essentially, immersive learning optimises the efficiency of training and enhances the learning experience.

With the ability to transport pupils, students and trainees into real-life situations without any risks, science has shown VR for education has to be the way forward for schools, colleges, business sectors and industry.

VR educational experiences

Where can we apply virtual reality in education? The answer is almost everywhere. VR creates an infinite set of possibilities that people can experience. Here are a few types of experiences you can create with VR for education.

Virtual fields trips

VR technology can be used to engage students in topics related to geography, history, or literature by offering a deeply immersive sense of place and time. Simply imagine geography lessons where you can visit any place on the globe – this type of experience is much more enriching than just reading about it.

High tech training

VR is a good solution for highly technical training fields like the military or the medical industry. For example, the most significant challenge for medical students learning anatomy is understanding the body in three dimensions and how different systems fit together. VR for education can help overcome this problem.

Work experience

Gaining experience of different careers is an essential part of the learning process. From early childhood, we dream about what we want to be when we grow up, and those dreams are usually inspired by the professionals in our lives. Often, we get this understanding through work experience placements, apprenticeships and internships.

Having VR for education helps broaden students’ exposure to careers. It improves people’s ability to imagine themselves in others’ shoes. Career expeditions show what it’s like to work in a field – students can explore a day in someone’s career, see what person is studying, and understand what a person likes, or doesn’t like, about their job. As a result, the experience becomes familiar to students.

Group learning

Some of the most important knowledge we gain doesn’t come from what we hear from teachers or lecturers, but rather from group activity and debate. VR for education gives the opportunity to make learning experiences social by allowing students to communicate with each other. Using avatars and mapped facial expressions, people can come together to discuss, synthesise, and learn from one another.

Distance learning

VR for education allows us to bridge the gap between educators and learners. With VR, distance learning tools can put educators and students together in the same room with digital representations of themselves – teachers can teleport into the VR world and guide students through their experiences.

Will there be a new role for teachers?

The transition from analog teaching practices to digital ones is changing what teaching looks like. The role of a teacher is evolving from content delivery to content facilitation. Teachers will be increasingly focused on creating conditions for exploring, rather than providing information and assessing the retention of that information.

Why should we embrace VR for education?

VR for education will change the world as we know it. Twenty-first century classrooms will be technologically advanced places of learning, with VR technology significantly increasing students’ engagement and learning. 

VR experiences will inspire a whole new generation of young and bright students, ready to innovate and change the world. And that’s something we should all embrace.

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.“ Albert Einstein

What are VR Experience Days?

What are VR Experience Days?

VR Experience Days are full of fun, exciting, immersive and fully inclusive games and activities for people of all ages and abilities. 

Welcome to a new reality…

Within a VR Experience Centre you will find a range of amazing, immersive and competitive gameplay and unique cinematic VR experiences. Virtual Reality (VR) technology creates new, digital worlds around us that we can interact with to varying degrees. VR experiences can make games and rides more entertaining and immersive, transporting players to worlds entirely separate from their own. Are you ready to experience the future of entertainment? 

Where can I find a VR Experience?

You can take part in excellent VR Experience Days at many locations in or near to your own locality. Find a centre close to you here and immerse yourself in a fun and exciting VR experience day now. There are thrill filled ImmotionVR entertainment centres located around the UK in London (O2), Brighton (Churchill Square), Bristol (Cabot Circus), Castleford (Xscape Yorkshire) and Glasgow (Intu Braehead) where you will find world leading simulators and technology creating exciting, immersive, competitive gameplay and unique, unforgettable, out of this world experiences for everyone.

Who are VR Experiences for?

VR brings people together and is great for all ages and abilities. Beginner or not, the aim is to offer something new and innovative: exciting, immersive experiences in safe indoor settings at a great price. Virtual reality experiences make unique experience gifts and are perfect activities for days out in or near your own locality, catering to different groups of people at different times throughout the day: parents and children in the morning, teenagers in the afternoon, young professionals or work events at night, and families over the weekends.

family virtual reality

What if it’s my first VR Experience?

Whether you have never tried VR before, want to give yourself a fright with a horror game or lose yourself in a convincing Sci-Fi adventure; top-of-the-range virtual reality experience centres have wide selections of games to choose from, including those specifically tailored for first-time players to experienced gamers, with single play games and shared experiences for family days out, groups of friends, work colleagues and school reward trips.

How long is a VR Experience?

Whichever game you choose, during your typical 15, 30 or 60-minute experience you’ll become the hero of your own world as you enter a convincing virtual universe using only a headset, pod and controller.

How much does a VR Experience cost?

Find examples of prices for a variety of games and experiences below:

What can I expect to happen?

At a VR Experience Centre you will usually find single player, paired and multiplayer games – occasionally team VR Experiences up to 10 players. Once you put on your VR Headset, your boundaries disappear and your virtual journey begins. From here the only limit is your imagination. Will you travel to the Moon or survive a zombie apocalypse with your team? Will you defend an alien invasion or swim with the world’s most dangerous sharks? The choice is yours.

Are VR Experiences safe?

A good tip to begin your first VR adventure is to opt for experiences that mirror natural body movement,  for example archery, laser shooting, or walking on the seabed. For interactive VR using Vive Pro headsets driven by a high-powered PC at a constant 90 frame per second frame rate and with natural player movement (eg – no flying) you will not experience any dizziness at all. 

A little dizziness and nausea may be experienced by some people when their movements are not matched to what they see in their VR headset (eg –  flying). If your unbelievably vivid and realistic VR world does become slightly too much for your senses you can simply remove your headset for a moment to re-orientate and then re-immerse into your amazing VR experience again. 

Are VR Experiences inclusive?

Definitely. VR is for everyone regardless of his or her interests, age, gaming experience and knowledge of technology. There are a huge range of games and VR experiences available to ensure that every participant finds something to their taste. Trained staff are usually on hand to help with any questions you may have or to provide instruction or explanation to support your participation. 

Are there any requirements?

There is usually a requirement for children under a certain age to be accompanied by a parent or guardian and there may be height requirements on some VR pods. Generally, for interactive experiences the recommended age is 8+ due to the size of controllers and weight of headsets, and for VR Pods the recommended age is 5+. 

If you have a pre-existing medical condition such as epilepsy, have any sensitivity to light or motion or have a pacemaker fitted, you should seek advice from a trained health professional prior to your visit.

What’s the current availability?

All UK ImmotionVR Experience centres are now fully open here for your enjoyment and are offering 15% ticket discounts for visits between Monday and Thursday. Blur the boundaries and fully immerse yourself in a new VR world from as little as £5!!!

What do you recommend?

The London Rollercoaster Tower by ImmotionVR at London O2 brings together world-class CGI experts, award-winning content creators, amazing storytellers and state-of-the-art motion platform technology to provide one of the most unforgettable, unique and truly immersive VR experiences on the planet. At the O2 you will also find an events arena and theatre, the Icon retail outlet, bars, restaurants, Cineworld, Hollywood Bowl and Oxygen Freejumping Trampoline Park. 

Take a look at some amazing footage here

Covid Notice

All VR Experience Centres will all be guided by local, regional and national guidelines regarding COVID-19 and upon reopening safety measures will be fully in place: headsets, seats and hand rests will be cleaned with antiviral disinfectant before and after use; hand sanitising stations will be available on entry and exit and staff will wear protective gloves and face masks at all times. A reduced number of people will be allowed into the centre at any one time to maintain social distancing.

Your safety is our priority | ImmotionVR

Spring into action with ImmotionVR

Spring into action with ImmotionVR

Amazing immersive VR Experience Centres reopening near you soon.

ImmotionVR are offering great price deals, exclusive virtual reality experiences and incredible state of the art motion pod technology in covid-safe centres around the UK from 17th May, 2021

We all agree that it’s time to have some fun, right! There’s nowhere better to escape from reality and have a real laugh with your friends and family than at one of ImmotionVR`s virtual reality entertainment centres. 

Check out these locations and book exclusive access for up to 6 guests

London (O2), Brighton (Churchill Square), Bristol (Cabot Circus), Castleford (Xscape Yorkshire),  Glasgow (Intu Braehead)

Exhilarating competitive gameplay and unique cinematic experiences in world leading motion pod technology with cutting edge virtual reality.

Unforgettable, out of this world ImmotionVR experiences for everyone

All UK centres will reopen from May 17th with covid-safety measures drawn up by an NHS Trust Infectious Diseases Specialist: all headsets, seats and hand rests will be cleaned with 70% alcohol Antibac spray before and after use; hand sanitising stations will be available on entry and exit and well trained staff will wear protective gloves and face masks at all times.

Things to do in lockdown London and beyond!

Things to do in lockdown London and beyond!

Where will you find your thrills as we emerge from lockdown in a COVID19 world?

At a VR Experience like The Tower Roller Coaster!

In light of revised cultural practices brought on by the pandemic, VR Experience Days are proving increasingly desirable to larger sections of society who; while simultaneously remaining socially distanced; are equally keen to brush off their lockdown cobwebs and explore their locale again, find things to do, enjoy/escape life and most importantly, laugh, let go and be thoroughly entertained. 

People are turning to immersive entertainment such as AR, XR and VR Experiences for the types of thrill they have been dreaming of though lockdowns; cannot yet re-access in real life and that hopefully transports them to entirely new COVID free worlds.

VR Experience Days will now have a substantial role in shaping our entertainment landscape. In the simplest terms, Virtual Reality (VR) technology creates new, digital worlds around us that we can interact with to varying degrees. VR experiences can make games and rides more entertaining and immersive, transporting players to worlds entirely separate from their own. And who doesn’t want a little escapism at the moment?

Consider the experience of riding The Tower Roller Coaster for example: flying around a track, shooting sky high, dropping into stomach churning turns, through tunnels and loops, all in the heart of your own city. As exciting as that may be, now imagine that same VR Experience pod potentially transporting you through prehistoric Earth or a fantasy world, complete with dinosaurs, dragons, or anything else the VR designers can devise. A ride like that can convince the most traditional theme park pro that they’ve been transported to a place outside the frame of their existence.

Typical VR arcade spaces like the ones offered by ImmotionVR include standard format VR cubes, a VR arcade zone, educational content, an augmented reality zone, and free roam zones to cater to different groups of people at different times throughout the day: mothers and children in the morning, teenagers in the afternoon, young professionals or work events at night, and families on weekends.

ImmotionVR is a UK company that fully recognises and understands the emerging desires and preferences of their customers: continuing to plough funds into new ImmotionVR technology and features throughout 2020 despite the impact of COVID lockdowns; developing a dizzying array of innovative games and experiences at its UK and US arcades and brokering multiple partnership deals around the world with major attractions including aquariums, zoos and museums.

A clear example of ImmotionVR’s intent can be found at their US Undersea Explorer Virtual Reality Theatre that opened on August 1, 2020 in partnership with Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This 36-seat theatre and immersive experience centre features state-of-the-art, motion platform VR technology transporting guests to the ocean’s depths. In addition to the 2 VR experiences, Shark Dive and Swimming with Humpbacks, the experience centre features a full interactive pre-show including Shark Cage Selfie Snap, Humpbacks Revealed, Songs of the Sea and Shark Tracker where guests track the movement of sharks around the world in real time.

“With this installation, we’ve built on our VR experiences and expanded our offering to be a fully-realized immersive experience centre,
We think this will be a blue-print for our business as we partner with other aquariums, zoos, museums and other attractions.”
Martin Higginson, Chief Executive ImmotionVR

Another great example of Immotion’s partnership work was the exhibition “Yorkshire’s Jurassic World“, at  York Museum, UK where octogenarian Blue Planet broadcaster and naturalist, Sir David Attenborough, visited and fed a VR dinosaur – an installation powered again by highly immersive content from ImmotionVR.

“Sharing my passion for the natural world is something which I have done for many years.
This has been through different technologies, from the days of black-and-white TV to colour, HD, 3D, 4K and now virtual reality.”
Sir David Attenborough, National Treasure


Virtual Reality

In the simplest terms, Virtual Reality (VR) technology creates a new, digitally immersive world that you can interact with to varying degrees. VR can make games and rides more entertaining, transporting roller coaster riders to a world entirely separate from their own. And if the experience ever becomes stale, VR technology allows operators to revitalize the ride and create brand-new VR experiences through a software update instead of an infrastructure overhaul.

Augmented Reality

Unlike VR, which creates an entirely new world, Augmented Reality (AR) technology overlays digital elements on top of the real world. As the name suggests, AR takes the existing physical environment and augments it with digital assets, creating an interactive, extraordinary experience that’s grounded in the world we know. Many roller coaster rides already incorporate AR elements. At the rate AR technology is advancing, it won’t be long before it’s nearly impossible to distinguish what is real and what is imagineered.

Find your thrills at a VR Experience Day.

While accepting the effect of COVID19 lockdowns, Immotion maintains their trading has “continued to be encouraging” across sites that have operated when restrictions have allowed.

The UK firm notes that it will have all UK and US ImmotionVR sites and 16 UK partner sites operating all its attractions again by the end of November.

Immerse yourself in amazing games and experiences that transport you to anywhere in this world or beyond.
All from the safety of your local VR Experiences arcade.

London Roller Coaster: The Tower

London Roller Coaster: The Tower

The London Roller Coaster Tower takes you higher than any theme park dares above the Capital’s breath-taking skyline in the most intense, white knuckle, virtual reality ride of your life.

“Such an adrenaline rush.”
Kaleigh & family: Tripadvisor


ImmotionVR offers the UK’s best VR Experiences

The London Roller Coaster Tower brings together world-class CGI experts, award-winning content creators, amazing storytellers and state-of-the-art motion platform technology to provide one of the most unforgettable, unique and truly immersive VR experiences on the planet.

For those of you interested in the tech: The Tower at O2 is an exhilarating CGI roller coaster ride with stunning 360° views of the city, 3D live action footage and full HD surround sound in a safe, secure, multi directional motion pod. For those of you not: this is simply a mindblowing, thrill-seeking, fun-filled scream of a ride.

Take a look at the footage of the London Roller Coaster experience.

“If you want the most exciting magical roller coaster ride… GO!!”
Zoe & family: Google Review 

The amazing London Roller Coaster VR ride brings people together and is great for all ages and abilities. Work colleagues with half an hour to spare at lunchtime; friends visiting the city together for a weekend break; families treating children to a well deserved day out; end of term reward trips from school – this is guaranteed fun and excitement for everyone – from the very first moment you enter the pod and put on your headset. 

The London Roller Coaster Tower offers you something new: an exciting, immersive experience in a safe indoor setting at a great price. In addition to the great range of usual passes and packages available, there’s currently an additional discounted fun and gaming incentive: 15 minutes of thrills for £15 per person (£25 for two).

Other standard offers available:

“All your senses are heightened.”
Sanj & friends: Tripadvisor

Whether you’ve ridden every traditional coaster ride there is; or it’s your first ever time; this provides the thrill you seek… and if it becomes too much momentarily, you can just remove your headset to re-orientate before re-immersing into the wild VR adventure once again.

“The rollercoaster ride made me scream!”
Cute P & friends: Tripadvisor 

If you want to share the thrill, but not the ride, then friends and family who are there to show support and shout encouragement can do so for free. Screens are placed to relay the experience of those brave enough… and someone can always be close by.

“Super staff… Amazing! Best experience ever.”
Salvatore: Tripadvisor

In addition to the amazing ride you are guaranteed a warm welcome and high level care and support by all staff at The Tower. A wealth of 5 star reviews on Tripadvisor, Google and Facebook are testament to this.

Always on hand, informative, friendly and helpful: the staff really do add value to this overall out-of-this-world experience.


You can visit The London Roller Coaster VR Tower with assurance that all necessary Covid-19 safety measures are fully in place: all headsets, seats and hand rests are cleaned with antiviral disinfectant before and after each use; hand sanitising stations are available on entry and exit to the experience and staff wear protective gloves and face masks at all times on site. A reduced number of people are allowed into the experience at any one time to maintain social distancing.  

Guests of 90cm in height and of ages 8+ can access the VR pods.If you have a pre-existing medical condition such as epilepsy, have any sensitivity to light or motion or have a pacemaker fitted, you should seek advice from a trained health professional prior to participating.

“We’ll certainly be back and would very much recommend this experience.”
@klgbc: Tripadvisor

The ImmotionVR entertainment centre at London’s O2 has lots of other enticing games and experiences to choose from; including deep sea and outer space VR pods and a multiplay gaming arena where anyone can become an intrepid explorer, epic adventurer or legendary hero.

There are more fun filled Immotion VR experience centres located around the UK in Manchester (Arndale), Newcastle (Intu Eldon Square), Derby (Intu West Mall), Uxbridge (Intu High Street), Cardiff (St Davids), Brighton (Churchill Square), Bristol (Cabot Circus), Castleford (Xscape Yorkshire) and Glasgow (Intu Braehead) where you will find world leading simulators and technology creating exciting, immersive, competitive gameplay and unique, unforgettable, out of this world experiences for everyone.

Looking for an unforgettable roller coaster ride in the heart of London?

Try The Tower

For prices, bookings and discount codes please contact: 


THE O2, LONDON, The O2, SE10 0DX (next to Las Iguanas)
Tel: 03305553330

Opening Hours

Monday to Thursday
12:00 to 18:00

Friday and Saturday
12:00 to 20:00

12:00 to 18:00


VR Sim Racing Guide for Brands Hatch

VR Sim Racing for Brands Hatch

Competitive spirit or racing fanatic?

Our hot lap competitions are a lot of fun! This blog has some tips to help you get the best out of your session and grab some top times!

Brands Hatch Track Guide

One of the original homes of British Motorsport, Brands Hatch has most recently seen the crowning of our first British Champion in the Women only W Series, #RethinkRacing, and is not short on ancient history either.

Foot to the floor, engine screaming from the start line takes you to an un-sighted curving right hander that drops away to catch out the unwary or overly exuberant. Caution is your friend here on your first lap.

The rising straight disappears fast at full beans and you will arrive at a sharp hairpin bend. Break hard before the bridge as gravity helps slow you. Roll the car round and down the hill before hitting the throttle. Move to the right hand side before you flick into a faster left hand corner, a dab of brakes before entry will make sure you are not to greedy with the extra speed from the hill.

The short straight gives you time to spot your turn in for the next left uphill corner, careful braking and a wider initial line will help keep you out of the gravel trap on the right as the corner doubles back on itself.

The long straight lets you hang it all out as you approach a deceptive right hand corner that rewards bravery. A lift before the corner and a dab of power to keep traction should see you right.

The track descends into a wide curve where you should keep as much power on as you feel comfortable. Spot the apex on the way in then on the way out of the dip be ready for the next apex right at the top of the rise which requires an early dab of brakes for control.

A burst of speed into a tight technical left hand corner which rewards two wheels across the apex to give you the best line. Brake early to set yourself up well and accelerate through.

Powering down the straight there is one corner left before the finish line, before the top of the rise lift off the power and wait for the car to be stable on the way down before flooring it for the finish!

Challenge me:
Project Cars 2 Time Trial | #58th| 1:28.718 | Formula C

Racing Sims at Cardiff ImmotionVR

By Joe Turner McMullan

What is Virtual Reality?

What is Virtual Reality?

“Why shouldn’t people be able to teleport wherever they want” – Palmer Luckey

Virtual Reality (VR) is the greatest performance of illusion known to man. Knowing the science behind it takes nothing from the enjoyment of it’s magic. Transported into a digital world that you can physically interact with, the only limit to what can be done is imagination. Jaron Lanier, one of the early pioneers of VR said “VR is a cross between cinema, jazz and programming”. It is easy to see how the form of VR entertainment and art can excites it’s users in a radical way.

Father of Virtual Reality, http://www.jaronlanier.com/
Jaron Lanier

Virtual Reality Hardware

Virtual reality is experienced through a headset, in a way we perceive as natural. Images are shown stereoscopically to each eye through lens. The lens are adjusted for the individual user, before the computer processes the images separately for each eye. The end result leaves us standing in a digital recreation of times square, or on the ocean floor.

Early VR, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View-Master
3D Viewmaster

Virtual Interaction

 The 3D viewmasters of old projected a fixed image. The way we interact with VR is a huge part of what makes it so special. VR uses your own moving gaze to change what you can see. Since these persistent environments mimic the way we see the physical world, we believe in VR more deeply. Holding a connection with your audience is nothing new, game or movie directors strive for this already, but VR offers the most gripping stage to do that from. For more on this read our Q & A with our head of new technologies, Peter Caddock.

Our sense of touch has merged with technology in recent years. It’s use within VR is a core sense that weaves the experience. Wireless controllers track hand positioning, motion and offer button interfaces. Most experiences and games allow you to reach out and interact with the world to make physical changes. Although not a consumer norm yet the use of a haptic glove matching the movements of the human hand identically is already in development.

Virtual Reality Haptics, https://twitter.com/finch_vr?lang=en
Finch Haptic Gloves

The Future of VR

Virtual Reality is developing fast in the areas relating to the human experience. You can already see products appearing, some even for the consumer market. These include smell, motion mapping, taste, audio and even refinements like depth perception and eye tracking. While sense driven technology shapes the way we interact with the digital world, the future will seem ever closer.

Technology, humanity and Virtual Reality are a powerful combination. In conclusion we are on the verge of a social and technological revolution, something that may be akin to the internet, computers or the mobile.

By Joe Turner-McMullan

The History of Virtual Reality

The History of Virtual Reality

“With appropriate programming such a display could literally be the Wonderland into which Alice walked.” – Ivan Sutherland

The Early Years

Virtual Reality is a new frontier. It has had many a pioneer claim to have first walked its paths. The concept as we know it, had its first references as early as the 1930’s. The book Pygmalion’s Spectacles by Stanley Weinbaum, contains almost direct references to the headset type VR we are familiar with today. The other late 30’s invention worthy of note was the stereoscopic photo viewers, these were researched by Charles Wheatstone and commercialised by the View-Master a year later in 1939.  

3D Viewmaster

The next big step forward was by the 1950s cinematographer Morton Heilig who developed the Sensorama. This large device that looked much like an arcade machine. It gave the viewer access to a variety of experiences, each tailored to include senses. These included smell, sound, wind and a wider angle of viewing to what was currently available. This was shortly followed by the first head mounted display (HMD), which he named the Telesphere Mask in 1960. This device did not track movement but featured stereo sound and still resembles the design of VR today.

Sensorama by Morton Heilig

The Birth of Interactive Virtual Reality

The 1960s started strongly for VR as it saw two Philco engineers develop the first motion tracking headset. This was designed for the viewing of dangerous military situations via a camera feed. In 1965 Ivan Sutherland published, The Ultimate Display,  theorising about the ultimate directions of VR, linking our physical connection to a world controlled by a computer.

The idea of using the rapidly developing computers, combined with visual displays has been called ‘the blueprint for the concept of VR today’. Ivan went on to develop a device called the ‘Sword of Damocles’, named for the pole that supported it hanging from the ceiling, thus the first computer driven display of its kind was created. The end of the decade saw Myron Kruegere make his mark, developing and researching the first interactivity of a digital environment. This culminated in the shared experience called VIDEOPLACE technology, where people could be miles apart but appear together.

Ivan Sutherland’sSword of Damocles

Jumping to the 1980s creation of VPL Labs by Jaron Lanier, virtual reality finally started to gain momentum. VPL began to develop gloves and headsets. Developers used these to create and interact, exploring many amazing things in the virtual world. Many say Jaron was the ‘Father of VR’’ and coined VR as terminology.  The release of the film Tron in 1982 no doubt also helped drive the interest in the virtual world.


Consumer Virtual Reality

After a decade of more accessible VR technology the 90s exploded with interest for VR. 1991 birthed Virtuality Group Arcade Machines, this placed VR technology in front of the general public in a way it had never been before. The film Lawnmower Man by Brett Leonard soon followed, in part about Jaron Lanier (played by Pierce Brosnan) and even featured VPL labs equipment. Sega and Nintendo both attempted to develop consumer products at this time but with limited success due to development complications, the Virtual Boy did make it to market but was not easy to use and sat uncomfortably.

Nintendo Virtual Boy

The Matrix in 1999 laid out the bold concept of what the virtual world could be and continues inspire conversation and interest. Rolling into the 21st Century and we now have major companies like Google, Facebook, HTC, Sony, Microsoft investing heavily in a future connected strongly to VR. we can surmise the reasons for this, linking mainly to the leap in affordable effective processing power and the miniaturisation of computing.

Mark ZuckerburgFacebook VR

In conclusion the next chapter of VR history is likely to explode into the renaissance era of technology. Films like Ready Player One by Steven Spielberg and VR’s fantastical nature itself, lends to an artistic revolution as the first new canvas for media since the computer screen.

Steven Speilberg’s, Ready Player One


By Joe Turner-McMullan