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What is Virtual Reality and why is it a big deal?

Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey smiling with a DK1 strapped on his face

Palmer Luckey, the Father of modern VR.

Utilizing Stereoscopic 3D together with head-tracking, modern HMD’s are true marvels of old and new tech working together. Contrary to what many believe, Virtual Reality (or simply, ‘VR’) is much more than just a 3D screen strapped onto your face.
Imagine putting on a pair of goggles, and finding yourself transported into a game or video. Here you can turn, look and interact with the ‘world’ around you, in much the same way as you would in real life. Instead of being stuck looking through a mere window into another world (eg, your monitor or tv), you can be there doing whatever you please. Without the actual risk of doing whatever you’re doing (getting shot, jumping off cliffs, blowing stuff up, having unprotected sex, skydiving, etc.). And with Virtual Reality Porn you can enjoy any sexual situation you want, in stunning detail and immersion!

VR’s early, and humble start.

VR has been around a lot longer than most people realize. In fact, the first ‘Virtual Reality’ device was invented all the way back in 1957 (patented in 1962)! Created by Morton Heilig (often touted as ‘The Father of VR’) and dubbed the ‘Sensorama’, it lacked head-tracking and was a completely stationary experience. It could be described more accurately as a personal 4D theater, but it is the first device in history that could even come close to being called Virtual Reality.

Similar to a large arcade machine (and costing a quarter to use), the Sensorama was cumbersome and unwieldy. Featuring a huge box enclosing a screen where a user could stick their head into so that they could ‘look’ around a 3D world, it was nowhere near as advanced as the HMD’s of today. However, it had something that today’s VR devices don’t have. The inclusion of smell, and the tactile sensation of wind!

Morton Heilig sitting at the 'Sensorama' machine

The amazing (for it’s time) ‘Sensorama’ machine. Imagine using this for VR Porn. You’d be able to smell it!

The player would choose from one of six short films that Morton had shot himself (‘Motorcycle’, ‘Belly Dancer’, ‘Dune Buggy’, ‘Helicopter’, ‘A date with Sabina’ and ‘I’m a Coca-Cola bottle’) and sit in a chair that would tilt and vibrate. An internal fan that was synchronized to the video would simulate the wind and a small box inside would produce aromas, making the experience encompass all the senses.

Unfortunately, only one Sensorama ever got built because Morton Heilig couldn’t secure funding for his visions and patents. Though the device is still operating today, it couldn’t be mass produced so the majority of the public didn’t even get to see Mr.Heilig’s invention. As a result, the concept of ‘VR’ would remain unheard of for many years to come!

VR’s ups and downs

After Mortons Sensorama, plenty of other inventors wanted to try to create Virtual Reality devices. However, none of them succeeded until many years later.

After his first failed attempt, Morton Heilig tried again by creating an actual HMD, called the Telesphere Mask. It was successfully patented and featured stereoscopic 3D, wide FOV and stereo sound. It was, however, quite bulky, and very expensive, so it never took off.

The same thing happened to two other inventors around the same period. Ivan Sutherland created the ‘The Ultimate display’ in 1965. Another headset that was too bulky, uncomfortable, and expensive for public use. His comrade Bob Sproull also attempted to create a VR headset in 1968, called the ‘Sword of Damocles’. This was the second headset that could track head movement. The military had made a headset that could track head movement in 1961 called the ‘Headsight’, but it wasn’t for public consumption and wasn’t any better than any of the other attempts at VR.
Being extremely ungainly, the Ultimate display hung down from the ceiling on a huge metal pole. Coupled with horrible graphics, and being assumably very uncomfortable and weighty, the Sword of Damocles was a near-immediate failure.

It wasn’t until 1984, nearly 20 years later that NASA had developed their first VR headset, which was the first HMD to use computer-generated 3D graphics. The images were, however, comprised of nothing but blue lines. This headset was also too bulky, and cost a fortune to make; but still, it was a huge step forward for the future of VR (STILL not quite ‘VR’).

A man using Morton's 'Telesphere Mask'

And people think today’s headsets look silly!

Finally, in 1987 a name for the technology had been finalized. Though there’s still quite a bit of controversy on how it came to be. Some say that Jaron Lanier, founder of the visual programming lab decided to name it ‘Virtual Reality’. Others say he just promoted the already used term.

By the early to mid 90’s, VR was starting to gain quite a bit of traction in the consumer world. It was then that both Sega and Nintendo announced that they would be making Virtual Reality HMDs available to the public for gaming. Sega had technical difficulties developing their ‘VR Glasses’, resulting in their headset barely leaving the drawing board. Nintendo also had little success with the Virtual Boy. Games lacked color, detail and weren’t very comfortable to play. After Nintendo and Sega’s big failure nobody even attempted to make another VR headset for years to come.

VR’s very bright future

It wasn’t until 2011 that VR really came to light once again. Palmer Luckey, a geeky 18-year-old was messing around in his parents’ garage when he had created the first prototype of a new-age Virtual Reality headset. Hacked together using a couple of old smartphones, the concept quickly evolved. A short year later, alongside the likes of John Carmack, Nate Mitchell, and Brendan Iribe, the company Oculus VR was born and the first Oculus Rift headset went public, the DK1. Subsequent iterations followed and the company was purchased for 2 Billion Dollars by Facebook. Other companies quickly started following Palmer (and his team’s example), creating their very own VR headsets. The rest is history!

The HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, and Samsung Gear VR are some of the other biggest brand VR headsets at the moment. Now more and more companies are starting to develop for Virtual Reality so the ecosystem is advancing rapidly!

Why VR isn’t going to fail this time!

Some of you are probably questioning whether you trust the whole VR thing, considering that it has failed numerous times before. Some people might even try to tell you that it will fail again for sure, but I say with certainty that VR is finally here to stay! Let me give you three good reasons why:

  1. The technology we have today is worlds ahead of the plebian crud that was available in the 1960s. When the first VR headsets came out, they were limited to displaying crappy video, and when VR tried again in the 80s all the computers sucked (the technology simply wasn’t there)!
  2. All these mega companies like Google and Facebook are creating VR headsets and content now, instead of just one lone person trying to make an HMD. So both the technology and the promotional power is huge!
  3. We now have headsets like Google Cardboard that are cheap and available to anyone with a smartphone to use!

Don’t believe the people who are telling you VR will fail now because it did then! Plus with all the amazing things coming out for VR (like VR Porn) who could just dismiss it?

 

What can you do in VR?

The 'Sword of Domocles' headset was large and unwieldy

The Sword of Domocles was both ridiculous looking and extremely uncomfortable

VR is not limited to gaming. You can do so much more! There are experiences where you interact with people who are also in VR, that are designed to help you overcome social anxiety. People can get over their fears and phobias by putting themselves in crazy situations they wouldn’t otherwise have the strength to attempt. They know that in VR they know they can’t get hurt! Imagine having a fear of heights, but then you practice overcoming those situations in VR. You could virtually jump off a cliff, or get into a hot air balloon and the experience is so realistic it will build your confidence in the real world. If you are afraid of needles, you could go into a virtual doctor’s office and let them poke you.
Not only can it help overcome your fears, but VR can also be a helpful learning tool.

If you were in college training to become a surgeon you could practice in VR or see what the inside of someone looks like up close in detail. Which is a lot more realistic and immersive than trying to do so on a flatscreen or book. You could also watch 360° documentaries to expand your knowledge in a fun fashion.

If you’re feeling artsy or are just the kind of person who loves to draw, Virtual Reality can provide you with some fantastic tools to help expand your creativeness; a good example is Tilt brush where you can draw 3D things in a three-dimensional space.

And let’s not forget you can also indulge in some of the most realistic, immersive porn out there 😉!

With Virtual Reality, imagination really is the limit!

Simulator sickness, and how to fix it.

VR does present the somewhat tricky problem of simulator sickness. Motion sickness is when your body is feeling some motion that your eyes cannot see. In the case of VR (sim sickness) it is when your eyes are seeing movements that your body can’t feel. With higher quality VR experiences, where moving is a smooth 90fps, simulator sickness just isn’t there for the majority of users and is easily overcome by many others. There is, however, is a small subset of users that are highly susceptible and will feel it regardless. In this case, they might be able to deal with the issue by taking Ginger, as it is is a well-known cure for motion sickness.
So if you’re feeling queasy in VR, you can enjoy a cup of ginger ale or take a ginger tablet (found at 99% of pharmacies).

If, on the off chance, you still feel motion sickness and ginger isn’t helping, try to keep to experiences that don’t have a lot of motion, or use a teleportation mechanic. While that may not sound ideal, the large majority of VR experiences are developed with just this in mind. So unless you are one of the unlucky few, it is likely that with a little practice and patience in finding what works for you, your experience will be just fine.

 

What is VR Porn and what makes is special?

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