Virtual Reality or VR is not a new phenomenon. During 1950s, Morton Heilig described an “Experience Theatre” that effectively engages all the human senses drawing the viewer into a on-screen activity. This vision was subsequently transformed into reality and a prototype called “Sensorama” was built and patented in 1962. When a stereoscopic bike ride scene of a movie was viewed in this, one would also have the hair blowing and complete with sound, smell et al.
Sensorama pre-dated digital computing and is a mechanical device but still considered the forerunner of today’s VR and Morton L. Heilig has been referred by many authors as the father of Virtual Reality.
VR has come a long way since then, riding piggyback on the gaming industry. This is also being extensively used to train the armed forces by simulating war front like situation,training commercial air plane pilots, simulating parachute jumping and the likes.
It has been making inroads into the life of common person through virtual museum or 3D imagery of popular architectural destination or archaeological sites. However, we are yet to witness virtual travel coming through at a commercial scale. I have a dream .... I want this to impact the life of all; the lazy, the crazy and everyone in between.
When that time comes the unable, disabled and differently-able person will become equally fortunate to experience joy of visiting popular, exclusive and exotic destinations from the comfort of the living room. That journey would be as real as physical travelling and not just talking to a fellow traveller along the way. It will effectively encompass all the other senses too.
I would want to feel the cold metal of the stainless steel hand rail standing on the edge, subconsciously trying to recognize the perfume the person standing next to me is wearing while I see the yacht on Thames getting smaller as we rise up on the capsule of the gigantic London Eye.
We hope to see this technology invade our lives sooner than later through our television screens, pads, tabs, smart phones and their apps. I am waiting for the moment when I will be taking my first selfie on a VR tour deep inside the Amazon or deep in the space.