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New reality is virtually upon us...

Byline: Ben Handley

WHAT do The Sword of Damocles, Morton Heilig's Sensorama, and the 18th century apparatus La Nature a Coup d'OEIL all have in common? They were in fact all early attempts at simulating an artificial reality (AR).

Patented in 1787 by artist Robert Barker, La Nature a Coup d'OEIL, comprised a large landscape painting displayed inside a circular building. Observers would stand in an enclosure in the building and view the painting as if it were a real panorama as seen from a high viewpoint.

Jumping forward to 1962, we come to Morton L. Heilig's patent for his Sensorama Simulator. This contraption, operating a bit more like present-day virtual reality (VR) devices, includes means of providing 3D visuals, vibrations, sound effects, and even odours.

Just six years later, computer scientist Ivan Sutherland developed an early example of a VR Head-Mounted Display (HMD): The Sword of Damocles. This device used head-tracking technology to display a virtual overlay that changed perspective based on the user's head position.

While the broad concepts have changed very little, current technology now allows users to enter completely artificial worlds in ways that had not previously been possible and development in this area is rife.

One interesting example is Magic Leap's cutting-edge AR goggles: Magic Leap One. These goggles can display virtual objects in different focal planes relative to real-world objects. This means that if a virtual ball is sitting on your real-world coffee table and you virtually knock it off, you will see it fall off the real-world table and virtually roll along the real-world floor.

But these developments are not a one-off. A study by IPLYTICs found that VR/AR patent applications have increased nearly six-fold between 2010 and 2018. With such rapid development in recent years, it is exciting to see what innovations come our way soon. Ben Handley, Trainee Patent Attorney Tel: 0121 643 588 Email: Sponsored column

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 25, 2019
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