6 Apr 2014

Virtual Reality is back

Back in the early 90's virtual reality promised a lot and delivered little. This was the time of movie "Lawnmower man", the 486 Intel pc, Doom was the must have PC game with blocky graphics as this
was years before the 3DFX Voodoo 3D cards were released. Game consoles were pretty poor (pre Sony PlayStation one) and game arcades were still the place to play top games, 3D games such as 'Hard Drivin' or Daytona USA. Around this time I used to take the train down to London occasionally to visit the arcades there. It was fun to visit Soho(the Red light district) which amongst sex shops and review bars also had one or two cool arcades.  I can remember playing "Dragon's Lair" there, but this must of been in the late 80's.


The Trocadero in Piccadilly Circus also contained a huge arcade and within it was the "Virtuality" centre, home to 3D game Heavy Metal (Exorex) which had stereoscopic 3D visuals. The head mounted display
consisted of a visor fitted with two displays of 276x372 resolution. I remember having to wait a while to get a go, it was expensive costing £5, the equivalent of £9.50 today. I only had one go which was utterly disappointing, it was one of the worst games I had ever played. The graphics were blocky and it was almost impossible to control due to the lag and poor processing power. The hardware was expensive and so was never going to be seen in your local arcade, let alone in your living room.


Roll forward 20 years and everything is about to change.

Immersive Technology

There are two types of immersive technologies. "virtual reality" where you are fully immersed in a virtual world via a head mounted display and "augmented reality" where your normal reality is improved or altered.

VR Head mounted displays


Oculus VR - Oculus Rift

Powered by your PC, Twin OLED 1920x1080 resolution display, head tracking via external camera, combination of 3-axis gyros, accelerometers, and magnetometers
Cost: less than $500
* Update March 25 2014, Facebook buys Oculus VR for $2 Billion.

Gameface Labs - Game face

Powered by a built in mobile phone, Single 1920x1080 display.
Cost: £350

Dive VR

Powered by your mobile phone
Cost: £50

Sony – Project Morpheus

Powered by your Playstation 4, LCD 2 x 1920x1080 resolution display

Sulon Cortex

Uses a mobile phone slid into the headset as the display. Does both VR and AR.


Augmented reality glasses

Technical Illusions - Cast AR


Google glasses


Epson - Moverio BT-200




LaForge Optical’s “Smartspecks”


Atheer labs


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Image attribution: "disorder" by i k o is licensed under CC BY 2.0

About Me

My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20, I had great fun trying to code text adventures and side scrolling shoot ‘em ups in BASIC. This helped me lead the way as the first in my school to pass a computer exam.

Currently I work as a Senior Software Engineer in Bedford for a FTSE 100 Company. Coding daily in C#, JavaScript and SQL. Outside of work I work on whatever is interesting me at that time.