V-Rtifacts

Head Mounted Displays

VR Helmets: the dinosaurs

All Brawn – Virtuality 1000CS HMD

VR hit the arcades (at least in England) with the 1991 debut of the Virtuality 1000CS and Dactyl Nightmare. The helmet was rugged, but simply massive, with two Romex style cables to power it up. If you’ve ever wondered why the HMD was such a bruiser, have a peek inside. Notice the thick walled plastic shell and the gobs of putty used to fill out the interior shape. Back in the day, tiny LCD displays were not the norm. Virtuality used a pair of fairly large Panasonic LCD monitors … too large, in fact, to be positioned side-by-side in front of any gamer’s eyes. Let’s dissect and see:

Virtuality-1000-CS-HMD Fully assembled – Here’s where you stick your head

Virtuality-1000-CS-HMD-OpticsHere’s what’s in front of your eyes
Notice the fairly large LCD (also another facing upwards just out of sight on the bottom of this photo
And… a pair of 45 deg. front surface mirrors to bounce the images into your eyes
Notice the cutouts for your nose


Virtuality at the Trocadero, London, 1991

Easy Sterilization – VIM

While the “easy sterilization” part was a little off-putting, this unique HMD was quite light-weight, although thin (not cheap) plastic made it more fragile than most.

VIM

My personal experience with this little fella revolves around the setup for a 1995 client trade show in Lisbon, arriving, VIM in hand, straight off the red-eye. Before I even got started, the cable strain relief at the back of the helmet gave way, and I spent the morning guessing where each of the 30 color-coded wires should be soldered.

For all the factoids, read the VIM Brochure!

Lawrence Taylor Teams Up With Virtual Reality

Sidelined in early Nov. 1992, LT was moving on to bigger and better things… Virtual Reality. The VRI-LT Press Release says it all:

Virtual Reality, Inc. (Electronic Bulletin Board — VIRT) has announced today the signing of an agreement with Lawrence Taylor’s All Pro Sports Products, Inc. for the development, commercialization and worldwide marketing of virtual reality sports and entertainment games.

Somewhere I’ve got a photo of Jerry Garcia wearing a VRI head mounted display. Gotta dig through the cartons of analog images.

By the looks of its VRI-Brochure, VRI was covering all the bases. The stock listing and suits bucked the trend in the VR biz.

<p>Virtual Reality, Inc. - eye logo</p>

Introducing a New VRontier!

In early 1993 many friends and associates received this letter:

Distinguished Associate or Friend,

We are pleased to introduce to you the beginning of a new chapter in the progress of virtual reality, in terms of its technology as well as its distribution.

Tier1

For the first time, a head-mounted display is available packed with features requested by users, and for the first time, a virtual reality accessory is being distributed through a network of qualified developers.

A brochure followed:

Tier 1 brochure