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Virtual reality

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"Virtuality" redirects here. For other uses, see Virtuality (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with Simulated reality.

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Researchers with the European Space Agency in Darmstadt, Germany, exploring virtual reality for
controlling planetary rovers and satellites in orbit

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated scenario that simulates a realistic experience. The
immersive environment can be similar to the real world in order to create a lifelike
experience grounded in reality or sci-fi. Augmented reality systems may also be considered a form of
VR that layers virtual information over a live camera feed into a headset, or through a smartphone or
tablet device.
Current VR technology most commonly uses virtual reality headsets or multi-projected
environments, sometimes in combination with physical environments or props, to generate realistic
images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user's physical presence in a virtual or
imaginary environment. A person using virtual reality equipment is able to "look around" the artificial
world, move around in it, and interact with virtual features or items. The effect is commonly created
by VR headsets consisting of a head-mounted display with a small screen in front of the eyes, but
can also be created through specially designed rooms with multiple large screens.
VR systems that include transmission of vibrations and other sensations to the user through a game
controller or other devices are known as haptic systems. This tactile information is generally known
as force feedback in medical, video gaming and military training applications.


 1Etymology and terminology

 2Technology
 3History
o 3.1Before the 1950s
o 3.21950–1970
o 3.31970–1990
o 3.41990–2000
o 3.52000–2015
o 3.62015–present
 4Use
o 4.1Video games
o 4.2Cinema and entertainment
o 4.3Social science and psychology
 4.3.1Altering perception, emotion and physiological state
 4.3.2Understanding bias and stereotypes
o 4.4Healthcare and clinical therapies
 4.4.1Surgery training
 4.4.2Anxiety disorder treatment
 4.4.3Pain management
o 4.5Education and training
 4.5.1Military uses
 4.5.2Space training
 4.5.3Flight and vehicular applications
 4.5.4Medical training
o 4.6Fine arts
o 4.7Engineering
o 4.8In occupational safety and health
o 4.9Heritage and archaeology
o 4.10Architectural and urban design
o 4.11Music and concerts
o 4.12Marketing
 5In fiction and popular culture
 6Concerns and challenges
o 6.1Health and safety
o 6.2Privacy
o 6.3Conceptual and philosophical concerns
 7Pioneers and notables
 8Commercial industries
 9See also
 10Notes
 11References
o 11.1General references
o 11.2Inline citations
 12External links

Etymology and terminology[edit]

Paramount for the sensation of immersion into virtual reality are a high frame rate (at least 95 fps), as well as a
low latency.

"Virtual" has had the meaning "being something in essence or effect, though not actually or in fact"
since the mid-1400s.[1] The term "virtual" has been used in the computer sense of "not physically
existing but made to appear by software" since 1959.[1] In 1938, Antonin Artauddescribed the illusory
nature of characters and objects in the theatre as "la réalité virtuelle" in a collection of essays, Le
Théâtre et son double. The English translation of this book, published in 1958 as The Theater and its
Double,[2] is the earliest published use of the term "virtual reality". The term "artificial reality", coined
by Myron Krueger, has been in use since the 1970s. The term "virtual reality" was first used in a
science fiction context in The Judas Mandala, a 1982 novel by Damien Broderick.
A "cyberspace" is a networked virtual reality.[3]
Virtual reality shares some elements with "augmented reality" (or AR).[4] AR is a type of virtual reality
technology that blends what the user sees in their real surroundings with digital content generated
by computer software. The additional software-generated images with the virtual scene typically
enhance how the real surroundings look in some way. Some AR systems use a camera to capture
the user's surroundings or some type of display screen which the user looks at (e.g.,
Microsoft's HoloLens, Magic Leap).

The Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML), first introduced in 1994, was intended for the
development of "virtual worlds" without dependency on headsets.[5] The Web3Dconsortium was
subsequently founded in 1997 for the development of industry standards for web-based 3D graphics.
The consortium subsequently developed X3D from the VRML framework as an archival, open-
source standard for web-based distribution of VR content.[6]
All modern VR displays are based on technology developed
for smartphones including: gyroscopes and motion sensors for tracking head, hand, and body
positions; small HD screens for stereoscopic displays; and small, lightweight and fast processors.
These components led to relative affordability for independent VR developers, and lead to the 2012
Oculus Rift kickstarter offering the first independently developed VR headset.[7]
Independent production of VR images and video has increased by the development
of omnidirectional cameras, also known as 360-degree cameras or VR cameras, that have the ability
to record in all directions, although at low-resolutions or in highly compressed formats for online
streaming.[8] In contrast, photogrammetry is increasingly used to combine several high-resolution
photographs for the creation of detailed 3D objects and environments in VR applications.[9][10]

Before the 1950s[edit]

The Sensorama was released in the 1950s.

View-Master, a stereoscopic visual simulator, was introduced in 1939.

The exact origins of virtual reality are disputed, partly because of how difficult it has been to
formulate a definition for the concept of an alternative existence.[11] Elements of virtual reality
appeared as early as the 1860s. French avant-garde playwright Antonin Artaud took the view that
illusion was not distinct from reality, advocating that spectators at a play should suspend disbelief
and regard the drama on stage as reality.[12] The first references to the more modern concept of
virtual reality came from science fiction.
Laurence Manning's 1933 series of short stories, "The Men Who Awoke"—later a novel—describes
a time when people ask to be connected to a machine that replaces all their senses with electrical
impulses and, thus, live a virtual life chosen by them (à la "The Matrix", but voluntary, not imposed).
Stanley G. Weinbaum's 1935 short story "Pygmalion's Spectacles"[13] describes a goggle-based
virtual reality system with holographic recording of fictional experiences, including smell and touch.
Morton Heilig wrote in the 1950s of an "Experience Theatre" that could encompass all the senses in
an effective manner, thus drawing the viewer into the onscreen activity. He built a prototype of his
vision dubbed the Sensorama in 1962, along with five short films to be displayed in it while engaging
multiple senses (sight, sound, smell, and touch). Predating digital computing, the Sensorama was
a mechanical device. Heilig also developed what he referred to as the "Telesphere Mask" (patented
in 1960). The patent application described the device as "a telescopic television apparatus for
individual use...The spectator is given a complete sensation of reality, i.e. moving three dimensional
images which may be in colour, with 100% peripheral vision, binaural sound, scents and air
Around the same time, Douglas Engelbart used computer screens both as input and output devices.
In 1968, Ivan Sutherland, with the help of his student Bob Sproull, created what was widely
considered to be the first head-mounted display (HMD) system for use in immersive simulation
applications. It was primitive both in terms of user interface and realism, and the HMD to be worn by
the user was so heavy that it had to be suspended from the ceiling. The graphics comprising the
virtual environment were simple wire-frame model rooms. The formidable appearance of the device
inspired its name, The Sword of Damocles.

Battlezone, an arcade video game from 1980, used 3D vector graphics to immerse the player in a VR

Also notable among the earlier hypermedia and virtual reality systems was the Aspen Movie Map,
which was created at MIT in 1978. The program was a crude virtual simulation of Aspen, Colorado in
which users could wander the streets in one of the three modes: summer, winter, and polygons. The
first two were based on photographs—the researchers actually photographed every possible
movement through the city's street grid in both seasons—and the third was a basic 3-D model of the
city. Atari founded a research lab for virtual reality in 1982, but the lab was closed after two years
due to Atari Shock (North American video game crash of 1983). However, its hired employees, such
as Tom Zimmerman, Scott Fisher, Jaron Lanier and Brenda Laurel, kept their research and
development on VR-related technologies. By the 1980s the term "virtual reality" was popularized
by Jaron Lanier, one of the modern pioneers of the field. Lanier had founded the company VPL
Research in 1985. VPL Research has developed several VR devices like the Data Glove, the Eye
Phone, and the Audio Sphere. VPL licensed the Data Glove technology to Mattel, which used it to
make an accessory known as the Power Glove. While the Power Glove was hard to use and not
popular, at US$75, it was an early affordable VR device.
The VR industry mainly provided VR devices for medical, flight simulation, automobile industry
design, and military training purposes from 1970 to 1990.[15]
In 1991, Carolina Cruz-Neira, Daniel J. Sandin and Thomas A. DeFanti from the Electronic
Visualization Laboratory created the first cubic immersive room, The Cave. Developed as Cruz-
Neira's PhD thesis, it involved a multi-projected environment, similar to the holodeck, allowing
people to see their own bodies in relation to others in the room.[16][17]
In 1992 researcher Louis Rosenberg created the Virtual Fixtures system at the U.S. Air Force’s
Armstrong Labs using a full upper-body exoskeleton, enabling a physically realistic virtual reality in
3D. The system enabled the overlay of physically real 3D virtual objects registered with a user's
direct view of the real world, producing the first true augmented reality experience enabling sight,
sound, and touch.[18][19]

A VPL Research DataSuit, a full-body outfit with sensors for measuring the movement of arms, legs, and trunk.
Developed circa 1989. Displayed at the Nissho Iwai showroom in Tokyo

The 1990s saw the first widespread commercial releases of consumer headsets. In
1991, Sega announced the Sega VR headset for arcade games and the Mega Drive console. It
used LCD screens in the visor, stereo headphones, and inertial sensors that allowed the system
to trackand react to the movements of the user's head.[20] In the same year, Virtuality launched and
went on to become the first mass-produced, networked, multiplayer VR entertainment system. It was
released in many countries, including a dedicated VR arcade at Embarcadero Center in San
Francisco. Costing up to $73,000 per multi-pod Virtuality system, they featured headsets and
exoskeleton gloves that gave one of the first "immersive" VR experiences.[21] Antonio Medina, a MIT
graduate and NASA scientist, designed a virtual reality system to "drive" Mars rovers from Earth in
apparent real time despite the substantial delay of Mars-Earth-Mars signals.[22]
In 1991, Computer Gaming World predicted "Affordable VR by 1994".[23] By 1994, Sega released
the Sega VR-1 motion simulator arcade attraction,[24][25] in SegaWorld amusement arcades. It was
able to track head movement and featured 3D polygon graphics in stereoscopic 3D, powered by
the Sega Model 1 arcade system board.[26] Also in 1994 Apple released QuickTime VR, which,
despite using the term "VR", was unable to represent virtual reality, and instead displayed 360
photographic panoramas.
The Virtual Boy was created by Nintendo and was released in Japan on July 21, 1995 and in North
America on August 15, 1995.[27] Also in 1995, a group in Seattle created public demonstrations of
a "CAVE-like" 270 degree immersive projection room called the Virtual Environment Theater,
produced by entrepreneurs Chet Dagit and Bob Jacobson.[28] The same system was shown in 1996
in tradeshow exhibits sponsored by Netscape Communications.[citation needed] Forte released the VFX1, a
PC-powered virtual reality headset in 1995, which was supported by games including Descent, Star
Wars: Dark Forces, System Shock and Quake.
In 1999, entrepreneur Philip Rosedale formed Linden Lab with an initial focus on the development of
VR hardware. In its earliest form, the company struggled to produce a commercial version of "The
Rig", which was realized in prototype form as a clunky steel contraption with several computer
monitors that users could wear on their shoulders. The concept was later adapted into the personal
computer-based, 3D virtual world Second Life.[29]

A 2013 developer version of Oculus Rift from Oculus VR, the company Facebook acquired in 2014 for $2 billion

In 2001, SAS3 or SAS Cube became the first PC based cubic room, developed by Z-A Production
(Maurice Benayoun, David Nahon), Barco, Clarté, installed in Laval France in April 2001. The SAS
library gave birth to Virtools VRPack. By 2007, Google introduced Street View, a service that shows
panoramic views of an increasing number of worldwide positions such as roads, indoor buildings and
rural areas. It also features a stereoscopic 3D mode, introduced in 2010.[30]
In 2010, Palmer Luckey designed the first prototype of the Oculus Rift. This prototype, built on a
shell of another virtual reality headset, was only capable of rotational tracking. However, it boasted a
90-degree field of vision that was previously unseen in the consumer market at the time. This initial
design would later serve as a basis from which the later designs came.[31]
In 2013, Valve discovered and freely shared the breakthrough of low-persistence displays which
make lag-free and smear-free display of VR content possible.[32] This was adopted by Oculus and
was used in all their future headsets.
In early 2014, Valve showed off their SteamSight prototype, the precursor to both consumer
headsets released in 2016. It shared major features with the consumer headsets including separate
1K displays per eye, low persistence, positional tracking over a large area, and fresnel lenses.[33][34]
On March 25, 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus VR for $2 billion.[35] This purchase occurred before
any of the devices ordered through Oculus' 2012 Kickstarter had shipped.[36] In that same
month, Sony announced Project Morpheus (its code name for PlayStation VR), a virtual reality
headset for the PlayStation 4 video game console.[37] Google announces Cardboard, a do-it-yourself
stereoscopic viewer for smartphones. The user places their smartphone in the cardboard holder,
which they wear on their head. In 2015, the Kickstarter campaign for Gloveone, a pair of gloves
providing motion tracking and haptic feedback, was successfully funded, with over $150,000 in
In February–March 2015, HTC and Valve Corporation announced the virtual reality headset HTC
Vive and controllers. The set included tracking technology called Lighthouse, which utilized wall-
mounted "base stations" for positional tracking using infrared light.[39][40][41][42]
By 2016 there were at least 230 companies developing VR-related products. Facebook has 400
employees focused on VR development; Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Sony and Samsung all
had dedicated AR and VR groups. Dynamic binaural audio was common to most headsets released
that year. However, haptic interfaces were not well developed, and most hardware packages
incorporated button-operated handsets for touch-based interactivity. Visually, displays were still of a
low-enough resolution and frame-rate that images were still identifiable as virtual.[7] On April 5, 2016,
HTC shipped its first units of the HTC VIVE SteamVR headset.[43] This marked the first major
commercial release of sensor-based tracking, allowing for free movement of users within a defined
In early 2017, a patent filed by Sony showed they were developing a similar location tracking
technology to the VIVE for PlayStation VR, with the potential for the development of a wireless

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Video games[edit]

PlayStation VR headset used in video games

A person wearing haptic feedback devices, which enable him to feel elements in the virtual world.

Several virtual reality head mounted displays (HMD) were released for gaming during the early-mid
1990s. These included the Virtual Boy developed by Nintendo, the iGlasses developed by Virtual I-
O, the Cybermaxx developed by Victormaxx and the VFX1 Headgear developed by Forte
Since 2010, commercial tethered headsets for VR gaming include the Oculus, the HTC Vive and
PlayStation VR.[46] Systems in development include: the StarVR; FOVE;[47] and the Magic
Leap.,[7] while the Samsung Gear VR is an example of a mobile-phone based device.[48]
Other modern examples of narrow VR for gaming include the Wii Remote, the Kinect, and
the PlayStation Move/PlayStation Eye, all of which track and send motion input of the players to the
game console somewhat accurately.[citation needed] Many devices have been developed to compliment VR
programs with specific controllers or haptic feedback systems[49]
Following the widespread release of commercial VR headsets in the mid-2010s, several VR-specific
and VR versions of popular videogames have been released. Guild Software's Vendetta Online was
widely reported as the first MMORPG to support the Oculus Rift.[50][51] On April 27,
2016, Mojang announced that the popular sandbox video game Minecraft was playable on the Gear
Cinema and entertainment[edit]
Films produced for VR permit the audience to view a 360 degree environment. This can involve the
use of VR cameras to produce films and series that are interactive in VR.[53][54] Pornographic studios
apply VR into their products, usually shooting from an angle that resembles POV-style porn.[55][56]
The 2016 World Chess Championship match between Magnus Carlsen and Sergey Karjakin, was
promoted as "the first in any sport to be broadcast in 360-degree virtual reality."[57] However, a VR
telecast featuring Oklahoma hosting Ohio State, took place September 17, 2016.[58][59] The telecasts
(which used roughly 180 degrees of rotation, not the 360 required for full VR) were made available
through paid smartphone apps and head-mounted displays.
Since 2015, virtual reality has been installed onto a number of roller coasters and theme parks. The
Void is a virtual reality theme park in Pleasant Grove, Utah that has attractions where, by using
virtual reality, AR and customized mechanical rooms, an illusion of tangible reality is created by the
use of multiple senses.[7]
Social science and psychology[edit]
Virtual reality offers social scientists and psychologists a cost-effective tool to study and replicate
interactions in a controlled environment. In addition, virtual reality enables a new form
of perspective-taking by allowing an individual to embody the form of a virtual avatar. Research in
this area suggests that embodying another being presents a very different experience from solely
imagining one's self as a form.[60] Researchers have used the immersion of virtual reality to
investigate how digital stimuli can alter human perception, emotion and physiological state, and how
it has transformed social interaction, in addition to studying how digital interaction can enact social
change in the physical world.
Altering perception, emotion and physiological state[edit]
Studies have considered how the form we take in virtual reality can affect our perception and
actions. One study suggests that embodying the body of a young child can influence perception of
object sizes such that objects are perceived as being much larger than if the objects were perceived
by an individual embodying an adult body.[61] Similarly, another study has found that Caucasian
individuals who embodied the form of a dark-skinned avatar performed a drumming task with a more
varied style than when they were represented by a pair of white-shaded hands and in comparison to
individuals who embodied a light-skin avatar.[62] As a whole, these works suggest that immersive
virtual reality can create body-transfer illusions capable of influencing how humans respond to
different circumstances.
Research exploring perception, emotions and physiological response within virtual reality suggest
that controlled virtual environments can alter how a person feels or responds to stimuli. For
example, a controlled virtual environment of a park coupled with a strong perceived feeling of
presence cause an individual to feel anxious or relaxed.[63] Similarly, simulated driving through areas
of darkness in a virtual tunnel can induce a fear response in humans.[64] Social interaction with virtual
characters in a virtual environment has been shown to produce physiological responses such as
changes in heart rate and galvanic skin response.[65] Individuals with high levels of social anxiety
were found to have larger changes in heart rate than their more socially confident counterparts.[65]
The sense of presence in virtual reality is also linked to the triggering of emotional and physiological
response. Research suggests that a strong presence can facilitate emotional response, and this
emotional response can further increase one's feeling of presence.[63] Similarly, breaks in presence
(or a loss in the sense of presence) can cause physiological changes.[65]
Understanding bias and stereotypes[edit]
Researchers have used embodied perspective-taking in virtual reality to explore whether changing a
person's self-representation may help in reducing bias against particular social groups. However,
the nature of the relationship between embodiment and implicit bias is not yet clear as studies have
demonstrated contrasting effects. Individuals who embodied the avatars of old people have
demonstrated significant reduction in negative stereotyping of the elderly when compared with
individuals placed in avatars of young people.[66]Similarly, light-skinned individuals placed in avatars
with a dark body have shown a reduction in their implicit racial bias.[67] However, other research has
shown individuals taking the form of a Black avatar had higher levels of implicit racial bias favoring
Whites after leaving the virtual environment than individuals who were embodied as White avatars.[60]
Healthcare and clinical therapies[edit]
A 2017 Goldman Sachs report examined VR and AR uses in healthcare.[68] VR devices are also used
in clinical therapy. Some companies are adapting VR for fitness by using gamification concepts to
encourage exercise.[69]
Surgery training[edit]
Surgery training can be done via virtual reality. To allow this, 360° video is recorded during
operations and the data thus obtained can (together with other data) be shared online.[70][71]
Anxiety disorder treatment[edit]
Virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) is a form of exposure therapy for treating anxiety
disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and phobias. Studies have indicated that
when VRET is combined with other forms of behavioral therapy, patients experience a reduction of
symptoms.[72][73] In some cases, patients no longer meet the DSM-V criteria for PTSD after a series of
treatments with VRET.[74]
Pain management[edit]
Immersive VR has been studied for acute pain management, on the theory that it may distract
people, reducing their experience of pain.[75][76] Researchers theorize that immersive VR helps with
pain reduction by distracting the mind and flooding sensories with a positive experience.[76][77][78]
Education and training[edit]

U.S. Navy personnel using a VR parachute training simulator.

VR is used to provide learners with a virtual environment where they can develop their skills without
the real-world consequences of failing. It has also been used and studied in primary education. For
example, in Japan's online high school ("N High School") VR plays a major role in education. Even
the school's opening ceremony was a virtual experience for 73 of the students: they received
headsets, which were connected to the campus hundreds of miles away – so they got to listen to the
principal's opening speech without having to travel so far. According to the school's workers, they
wanted to give the students a chance to experience VR technology, before having to use it "live" as
part of their education.[79] The specific device used to provide the VR experience, whether it be
through a mobile phone or desktop computer, does not appear to impact on any educational
Military uses[edit]
Thomas A. Furness III was one of the first to develop the use of VR for military training when, in
1982, he presented the Air Force with a working model of his virtual flight simulator the Visually
Coupled Airborne Systems Simulator (VCASS).[citation needed] The second phase of his project, which he
called the "Super Cockpit", was even more advanced, with high resolution graphics (for the time) and
a responsive display.[citation needed] Furness is often credited as a pioneer in virtual reality for this
research.[81] The Ministry of Defense in the United Kingdom has been using VR in military training
since the 1980s.[82] The United States military announced the Dismounted Soldier Training System in
2012.[83] It was cited as the first fully immersive military VR training system.[84]
Space training[edit]
NASA has used VR technology for twenty years.[85] Most notable is their use of immersive VR to train
astronauts while they are still on Earth. Such applications of VR simulations include exposure to
zero-gravity work environments and training on how to spacewalk.[86][87] Astronauts can even simulate
what it is like to work with tools in space while using low cost 3D printed mock up tools.[88]
Flight and vehicular applications[edit]
A headscreen-wearing soldier sits at a gunner station while learning in a Virtual Training Suite.

Flight simulators are a form of VR pilot training. They can range from a fully enclosed module to a
series of computer monitors providing the pilot's point of view.[89] By the same token, virtual driving
simulations are used to train tank drivers on the basics before allowing them to operate the real
vehicle.[90] Similar principles are applied in truck driving simulators for specialized vehicles such as
firetrucks. As these drivers often have less opportunity for real-world experience, VR training
provides additional training time.[91]
Medical training[edit]
VR technology has many useful applications in the medical field.[92] Simulated surgeries allow
surgeons to practice their technical skills without any risk to patients. Numerous studies have shown
that physicians who receive surgical training via VR simulations improve dexterity and performance
in the operating room significantly more than control groups.[93][94][95] Through VR, medical students
and novice surgeons have the ability to view and experience complex surgeries without stepping into
the operating room.[96] On April 14, 2016, Shafi Ahmed was the first surgeon to broadcast an
operation in virtual reality; viewers followed the surgery in real time from the surgeon's
perspective.[97] The VR technology allowed viewers to explore the full range of activities in the
operating room as it was streamed by a 4K 360fly camera.[98]
Fine arts[edit]
David Em was the first fine artist to create navigable virtual worlds in the 1970s.[99] His early work
was done on mainframes at Information International, Inc., Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and California
Institute of Technology. Jeffrey Shaw explored the potential of VR in fine arts with early works
like Legible City (1989), Virtual Museum (1991), and Golden Calf (1994).
Virtopia was the first VR Artwork to be premièred at a film festival. Created by
artist/researcher Jacquelyn Ford Morie with researcher Mike Goslin, it debuted at the 1992 Florida
Film Festival. Subsequent screenings of a more developed version of the project were at the 1993
Florida Film Festival and at SIGGRAPH 1994's emerging tech venue, The Edge. Morie was one of
the first artists to focus on emotional content in VR experiences.[100][101]

"World Skin, A Photo Safari in the Land of War" - Maurice Benayoun, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, Virtual Reality
Installation - 1997
Canadian artist Char Davies created immersive VR art pieces Osmose (1995)
and Ephémère (1998). Maurice Benayoun's work introduced metaphorical, philosophical or political
content, combining VR, network, generation and intelligent agents, in works like Is God Flat? (1994),
"Is the Devil Curved?" (1995), The Tunnel under the Atlantic (1995), and World Skin, a Photo Safari
in the Land of War (1997). Other pioneering artists working in VR have include Knowbotic
Research, Rebecca Allen and Perry Hoberman.[102] In 2015, futurist Keram Malicki-Sánchez created
the FIVARS Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories[103] the first Virtual and
Augmented Reality showcase dedicated wholly to narrative forms endemic to spatialized media.
Drawing from an international pool of sources, the festival was responsible for the publication and
distribution of many notable pieces, including Adam Cosco's "Knives," "SONAR 360," and "Pearl"
among others. In 2016, the first project in Poland called The Abakanowicz Art Room was realized –
it was documentation of the art office Magdalena Abakanowicz made by Jarosław Pijarowski and
Paweł Komorowski.[104]
Some museums have begun making some of their content virtual reality accessible including
the British Museum[105] and the Guggenheim.[106]
The use of 3D computer-aided design (CAD) data was limited by 2D monitors and paper printouts
until the mid-to-late 1990s, when video projectors, 3D tracking, and computer technology enabled a
renaissance in the use of 3D CAD data in virtual reality environments. With the use of active shutter
glasses and multi-surface projection units immersive engineering was made possible by companies
like VRcom and IC.IDO. Virtual reality has been used in automotive, aerospace, and ground
transportation original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in their product engineering and
manufacturing engineering . Virtual reality adds more dimensions to virtual prototyping, product
building, assembly, service, performance use-cases. This enables engineers from different
disciplines to view their design as its final product. Engineers can view the virtual bridge, building or
other structure from any angle. As well, some computer models allow engineers to test their
structure's resistance to winds, weight, and other elements. Immersive VR engineering systems
enable engineers to see virtual prototypes prior to the availability of any physical prototypes.
In occupational safety and health[edit]
VR simulates real workplaces for occupational safety and health purposes. Information and
projection technology are used to produce a virtual, three-dimensional, dynamic work environment.
Within work scenarios for example some parts of a machine move of their own accord while others
can be moved by human operators. Perspective, angle of view, and acoustic and haptic properties
change according to where the person is standing and how he or she moves relative to the
environment. VR technology allows human information processing close to real life situations. VR
enables all phases of a product life cycle, from design, through use, up to disposal, to be simulated,
analysed and optimised. VR can be used for OSH purposes to:

 Review and improve the usability of products and processes whilst their development and
design are still in progress. This enables errors in development and the need for subsequent
modifications to be avoided.
 Systematically and empirically review design solutions for the human-system interfaces and their
influence upon human behaviour. This reduces the need for physical modifications to machinery,
and for extensive field studies.
 Safely test potentially hazardous products, processes and safety concepts. This avoids actual
hazards during the study of human-system interaction.
 Identify cause-effect relationships following accidents on and involving products. This saves
material, personnel, time and financial outlay associated with in-situ testing.
Heritage and archaeology[edit]
The first use of a VR presentation in a heritage application was in 1994, when a museum visitor
interpretation provided an interactive "walk-through" of a 3D reconstruction of Dudley Castle in
England as it was in 1550. This consisted of a computer controlled laserdisc-based system designed
by British-based engineer Colin Johnson. The system was featured in a conference held by the
British Museum in November 1994, and in the subsequent technical paper, Imaging the Past –
Electronic Imaging and Computer Graphics in Museums and Archaeology.[107] Virtual reality enables
heritage sites to be recreated extremely accurately, so that the recreations can be published in
various media.[108] The original sites are often inaccessible to the public or, due to the poor state of
their preservation, hard to picture.[109] This technology can be used to develop virtual replicas of
caves, natural environment, old towns, monuments, sculptures and archaeological elements.[110]
Architectural and urban design[edit]

A visitor at Mozilla Berlin Hackshibition trying Oculus Rift virtual reality experience on Firefox.

One of the first recorded uses of virtual reality in architecture was in the late 1980s when the
University of North Carolina modeled its Sitterman Hall, home of its computer science department, in
a virtual environment.[111]

A land development plan using Prefurbia, a 4th generation design system.

By 2010, VR programs were developed for urban regeneration, planning and transportation
Music and concerts[edit]

Assembled Google Cardboard VR

VR can allow individuals to attend concerts without actually being there.[113][114] The experience of VR
concerts can feel passive, lacking the interaction between the user and the performers and audience
but can be enhanced using feedback from user's heartbeat rate and brainwaves.[115] Virtual reality
can be used for other forms of music, such as music videos.[116] VR can also be used for music
visualization or visual music applications.[117][118]
Virtual reality presents a unique opportunity for advertisers to reach a completely immersed
audience.[119] Companies such as Paramount Pictures, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Disney, The North
Face[120] and Innis & Gunn[121] have applied VR into marketing campaigns.[122][123]Non-profit
organizations such as Amnesty International, UNICEF, and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
have used virtual reality to bring potential supporters closer to their work, effectively bringing distant
social, political and environmental issues and projects to members of the public in immersive ways
not possible with traditional media. Panoramic 360 views of conflict in Syria[124] and face-to-face
encounters with CGI tigers in Nepal[125] have been used in experiential activations and shared online
for educational and fundraising purposes.
Lowe's, IKEA, Wayfair and other retailers have developed systems that allow their products to be
seen in virtual reality, to give consumers a better idea of how the product will fit into their home, or to
allow the consumer to get a better look at the product from home.[126] Consumers looking at digital
photos of the products can "turn" the product around virtually, and see it from the side or the back.
Several companies develop software or services that allow architectural design firms and real estate
clients to tour virtual models of proposed building designs. During the design process, architects can
use VR to experience the designs they are working on before they are built. Seeing a design in VR
can give architect a correct sense of scale and proportion.[127] VR models can replace physical
miniatures to demonstrate a design to clients or the public. Developers and owners can create VR
model of built spaces that allow potential buyers or tenants to tour a space in VR, even if real-life
circumstances make a physical tour unfeasible.
In July 2015, OnePlus became the first company to launch a product via virtual reality.[128]

In fiction and popular culture[edit]

Main article: Virtual reality in fiction
There have been many novels that reference and describe forms of virtual reality. Neal
Stephenson's Snow Crash (1992) and Ernest Cline's Ready Player One (2011) are novels that have
been influential for VR engineers working in the early 21st century.[7]
In the 1980s and 1990s, Cyberpunks viewed the technology as a potential means for social change.
The recreational drug subculture praised virtual reality not only as a new art form, but as an entirely
new frontier.[81]

Concerns and challenges[edit]

Virtual reality technology faces a number of challenges, including health and safety, privacy and
technical issues. Long-term effects of virtual reality on vision and neurological development are
unknown; users might become disoriented in a purely virtual environment, causing balance issues;
computer latency might affect the simulation, providing a less-than-satisfactory end-user experience;
navigating the non-virtual environment (if the user is not confined to a limited area) might prove
dangerous without external sensory information. There have been rising concerns that with the
advent of virtual reality, some users may experience virtual reality addiction.[129] From an economic
and financial perspective, early entrants to the virtual reality market may spend a significant amount
of time and money on the technology. If it is not adopted by enough customers, the investment will
not pay off.[130]
Health and safety[edit]
There are many health and safety considerations of virtual reality. Most virtual reality systems come
with consumer warnings, including: seizures; developmental issues in children; trip-and-fall and
collision warnings; discomfort; repetitive stress injury; and interference with medical devices.[131]
A number of unwanted symptoms have been caused by prolonged use of virtual reality,[132] and these
may have slowed proliferation of the technology. For example, in 1995, Nintendo released a gaming
console known as the Virtual Boy. Worn as a headpiece and connected to a typical controller, the
Virtual Boy received much criticism for its negative physical effects, including "dizziness, nausea,
and headaches".[133] Virtual reality sickness (also known as cybersickness) occurs when a person's
exposure to a virtual environment causes symptoms that are similar to motion
sickness symptoms.[134] The most common symptoms are general discomfort, headache, stomach
awareness, nausea, vomiting, pallor, sweating, fatigue, drowsiness, disorientation, and
apathy.[135] Other symptoms include postural instability and retching.[135] Virtual reality sickness is
different from motion sickness in that it can be caused by the visually induced perception of self-
motion; real self-motion is not needed.[134] It is also different from simulator sickness; non-virtual
reality simulator sickness tends to be characterized by oculomotor disturbances, whereas virtual
reality sickness tends to be characterized by disorientation.[136] A 2016 publication assessed the
effects of exposure to 2D vs 3D dissection videos on nine pathology resident physicians, using self-
reported physiologic symptoms. Watching the content in 3D vs 2D did not increase simulator
sickness. Although the average simulator sickness questionnaire score did increase with time,
statistical analysis does not suggest significance.[137]
The persistent tracking required by all VR systems makes the technology particularly useful for, and
vulnerable to, mass surveillance. The expansion of VR will increase the potential and reduce the
costs for information gathering of personal actions, movements and responses.[7] In networked VR
spaces with capacity for public interaction, there is the potential for unexpected modifications of the
Conceptual and philosophical concerns[edit]
In addition, there are conceptual, and philosophical considerations and implications associated with
the use of virtual reality. What the phrase "virtual reality" means or refers to can be
ambiguous. Mychilo S. Cline argued in 2005 that through virtual reality techniques will be developed
to influence human behavior, interpersonal communication, and cognition.[138][139][140] In the book The
Metaphysics of Virtual Reality by Michael R. Heim, seven different concepts of virtual reality are
identified: simulation, interaction, artificiality, immersion, telepresence, full-body immersion, and
network communication. As we spend more and more time in virtual space, there could be a gradual
"migration to virtual space", resulting in important changes in economics, worldview, and
culture.[141] Philosophical implications of VR are discussed in books, including Philip Zhai's Get Real:
A Philosophical Adventure in Virtual Reality (1998) and Digital Sensations: Space, Identity and
Embodiment in Virtual Reality (1999), written by Ken Hillis.