Okay, Calm down, I know this is huge but you got this!I cannot tell you how excited I am to share with you the history of Augmented Reality, one of the most sensational technologies. I am equally exhausted from all that research because history isn’t one of my favourite subjects and trust me when I tell you this, this one goes long back.
Contrary to what most people believe, Augmented Reality isn’t an entirely new concept. Wait, more interesting facts about augmented reality are coming up.
Before it was cool, Augmented Reality had been a topic of research for geniuses around the globe, inside locked doors of government centres or Universities. In fact, work started on it in the early 1960s (trust me, I am as shocked as you are).
The Father of Virtual Reality
Morton Heilig, a cinematographer (and not a computer scientist) created a machine that imitated reality on a screen.
The machine did not just show the visuals and sounds in 3D but also threw in the occasional aromas to engage all the senses. He said he wanted to make the ‘cinema of the future’ with this early augmented reality device.
He called it Sensorama.
Although it was nothing like the Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality applications that we see today, it showed that our reality could be played with. He was way ahead of his time and so he couldn’t find people who would fund his creation and Sensorama was halted. Surprisingly, this mechanical machine still functions today.
However, if you use this early-day augmented reality device you have to sit down on the chair and not move, all necessary movements for the experience would be carried out by the chair itself, an experience similar to what we call a 7D movie experience today.
The first head mounted device
In 1968, Ivan Sutherland developed the first head-mounted or virtual reality heads-up display for virtual reality (the spookily named Sword of Damocles) which opened the pathway for all the wearable technology that was to come in the coming future.
It was not as sophisticated as the augmented reality devices in use today, rather it was big and heavy (and oddly ugly, if you ask me). It was so heavy that they needed to suspend it to the ceiling, so that the user doesn’t break his neck, apparently.
In the history of augmented reality, this was the beginning of the wearable technology that has made itself an integral part of the virtual reality or augmented reality devices and applications we know today.
During mid-70s, Myron Krueger established a lab called Videospace, a place where users were surrounded by virtual elements that responded to movements, a bit like Holodeck (Star Trek, anyone?). It was a very primitive form of interaction but a huge breakthrough at that time, considering the lack of hi-tech equipment then.
He used projectors, video cameras, special purpose hardware, and onscreen silhouettes of the users, to make this Artificial Reality, a possibility. This sprung the need for an effective interaction between the real world and the virtual objects, which would eventually become possible and lead us to the future of augmented reality.
EyeTap and Augmented Reality Heads Up Display
All the experiments and research for so many years came to fruition when it became easier to host Virtual Data on a screen, while viewing the real world as it is, hence Augmented Reality.
Further improvements led to the creation of the first wearable augmented reality device that inserted data into the see-through screens. These screens could be the camera lens in the EyeTap or the hood over the cockpit in case of Augmented Reality Heads Up Display.
The purpose of this technology was to offer direct data to the users without hindering their vision. Hence helping to work more efficiently (or shoot effectively if the user is the pilot of a fighter jet), without data being a distraction.
The common man’s first look at Augmented Reality
in the history of augmented reality, the common folk had a look at Augmented Reality technology when Dan Reitan displayed the weather broadcast on television screens with abstract images over the maps and fascinated the crowds.
This was the start of many Augmented Reality applications, in all its glory, on television, and one of our priced possessions at our augmented reality museum.
In 1987, Douglas George and Robert Morris created a telescope based augmented reality Heads Up Display that superimposed the lens with relevant data pertaining to the stars they were looking at.
This ended the first age of Augmented Reality technology, the creation of a plethora of possibilities that would change the way people would see the world around them, quite literally!
After a set of facts about augmented reality, I would tell you about the next two decades' history of augmented reality in the upcoming posts, until then stay WOWSOME!
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