V-Rtifacts

Tag Archive: 1995

PT-01 – A Rare Breed Gains Five Stars (If You Keep It On the Shelf!)

Ah well, a review of the PT-01 from Optics 1 … Back in the days it was ridiculous expensive, like most of the VR stuff. The pros are that it is very light and optimized for mobile use, i love that it comes with a belt clip and can be driven by a common battery. The cons are that it uses quite cheap plastic and that the case is just “stick together” and it will easily fall apart. Why they didn’t even use a screw or so to fix it properly together is beyond my understanding.

Another flaw is quite obvious – the sunshield which was obviously invented AFTER they started production as it looks like they cut off the visor of a baseball cap and clipped it to the device. They quite obviously realized that it’s not very immersive as they originally planned it. The sunshield is made of fabric and never stays in shape, it looks a bit like something you’d make yourself, not like it belongs to the device. Another terrible drawback is that it only accepts an A/V input. Yeah sure, it matches the device – no headtracker, no VGA input – a portable personal TV screen, w00t! I mean back in the days of VR who bought such stuff? People who were like “i wanna use it to watch TV” or Computer geeks like us? As a VR helmet it fails and for a TV replacement on the go its also not that handy as it lacks a receiver and see-through feature, so you definitely would not use it unless seated. No wonder it’s so rare, i couldn’t imagine anyone who’d really need or want it. More of a collectors piece. Also there was a stereoscopic version which had 2 AV input boxes. I must admit although i have seen this on several devices i never got how you use it “on the go”. Did they expect one to have 2 synchronized VCR on your belt? I always wondered why home devices came like this as i never found a way to get any use of having 2 AV signals.

PT-01_Manual

OK so far for the PT-01. Collectors Value: 5 stars (For the rarity, brand and original price tag), usability 1 Star (add a second star if you dont have a TV set and intend to only watch videos on it anyways).

Number 5 in PC World’s “Ugliest Products in Tech History” – VIRTUAL BOY

Nintendo’s 1995 Virtual Boy was a whole cartridge based game system inside a desktop-mounted-head stereoscopic immersive display. Designed by Gunpei Yokoi of Gameboy fame, and offered for $180 retail, the market was less than kind. It was withdrawn from the market in less than a year and now can still be found late in the day at weekend garage sales.

The actual displays were unique, a rapidly vibrating linear array of 224 red leds. The array was vibrated at 55 hz, sweeping out a dim red raster. The concept was borrowed from Reflection Technology which had introduced a monocular augmented reality head mounted display in 1990.

Needless to say, Nintendo dumped Yokoi despite his success with Gameboy, and he died in a car wreck a year later. In many ways the Virtual Boy also put the final nail into the 90’s VR craze.

Apropos of the Virtual Boy, the following G4 critique features dominant raster lines, but sadly not Olivia Munn.

1995 Virtual IO I-Glasses

1995 Video of Virtual io’s I-Glasses. Virtual reality Head Mounted Display with headtracking. This was the first i-glasses version released and had much lower resolution than the i-glasses they sell today. Back in 1995 this was one of the first affordable home VR headsets along with the Victormaxx cybermaxx and the fortevr VFX-1. The small and lightweight design made it comfortable to wear, but the enormous cable from the VGA-box to the Computer, the box itself, the cable to the glasses and the power supply rendered it a too large package to really “take everywhere”.

They still work fine today, but the maximum input resolution of 640×480 makes a modern Windows Vista Desktop appear a bit crowded. For today’s standards the resolution and color depth are a bit too low to really enjoy watching 3D movies, but astonishingly the recent “Avatar” game by james Cameron works amazingly well and the nice graphics don’t look as bad as you might think on the low res.

Urinated in His Pants?

Proving that VR doesn’t automatically lead to hurling the intrepid subject of this 1995 video wolfs down a cornucopia of fast food and hops on some VR games at Toronto’s CN Tower. The manager of the arcade facility prevaricates a bit, telling us that while he’s never seen chunks, peeing one’s pants is an actual reality. We hope that’s not in the sit-down version of the Virtuality system show…

Display Mounted Head? – Kimera

The Kimera game system from Immersive Technologies appeared at the 1995 IAAPA show with a solution to the VR arcade’s most vexing challenge: how to keep the helmets from being damaged or stolen without a full time attendant. Taking their cue from the Fakespace Boom, Kimera had a floating/pivoting display, to which the game player leaned into and then moved about. Indeed, you would mount your head to the display. At 525 lbs., Kimera came with a proprietary game, Pyramid Pilot, custom designed for Immersive by the software developer Algorithm.

immersive_technologies_kimera

Another Gyro VR – Orbotron X O Tron VR

1995 brought us yet another Gyro based VR Game system, the X-O-Tron VR, a descendant of the original non-electronic gyro-exercise system, the Orbotron. Initially inspired by the March 1992 release of Lawnmower Man, the first gyro VR systems appeared that summer (full disclosure – my company built a prototype system for a client in the spring of ’92 and then offered our own before the end of the year.)

XOTron-VR

The X-O-Tron VR came from the same folks who designed and built the Orbotron. It had two features that nobody else was offering: a wireless HMD and the ability to spin the gyro completely upside-down and back. While the helmet wasn’t tracked, there were shaft encoders on the gyro bearings to detect the gamer’s orientation. The game electronics were a 3D0 home game system. Read more in the X-O-Tron-VR Brochure.

And don’t forget to watch the original gyro in Lawnmower Man:

What to do with the Cable? – Dynamic Visions

If you’ve ever tried out Virtual Reality, the FIRST thing you’ll feel is the tug of the helmet cable as you virtually (and actually) try to walk down the path. Many HMDs use the weight of a rear exiting cable as a counter-weight to offset the heavy front end containing the displays and optics. In 1995 a Canadian company, Dynamic Visions, using the lightweight Kaiser Electro-Optics VIM, offered a solution (No, I’m talking about the human attendant to wrangle the cable):

Dynamic-Visions-Cable

Actually it’s a flexible post dangling the cable above the gamer.

Dynamic-Visions-Orion