The Past, Present, and Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality

Past Tides
August 26, 2016 By Karena Phan

On July 13th, the Cove hosted the Orange County chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to discuss the past, present, and future of Virtual and Augmented Reality. The event’s host was Dr. Jacquelyn Ford Morie, founder of All These Worlds, LLC, a virtual reality project that incorporates storytelling and stress relief for veterans and soldiers. Dr. Morie is a recognized authority in using Virtual Reality (VR) to deliver meaningful experiences that enrich people’s lives. She is an artist, scientist, and educator with advanced degrees in both fine arts and computer science.

Since 1990, Dr. Morie has been developing multi-sensory techniques for VR that can predictably elicit emotional responses from participants. As an example of this concept, imagine a collar emitting different scents to a participant within an immersive experience.

Most recently, she has started a company to focus on Augmented Reality travel experiences.

The event began with discussing the history of VR including the key people and contributors that have made VR what it is today.  According to Dr. Morie, virtual reality was created as a result of precedents established in science fiction, literature, spectacle events, and theme parks. She noted that early applications of VR date back to the 1960’s as a DoD training tool and the 1980’s with NASA experimenting with it for telerobotic operations and training. She described VR’s decline until recent years as a result of negative perceptions by the media and a lack of access to the technology due to the high costs of the equipment.

Dr. Morie also shared her first experience with VR from 1989 at the Institute for Simulation Training in Orlando, Florida. At the time, she wanted a person to experience her artwork and be able to walk around in it. During her time working at the Institute, Dr. Morie collaborated with scientists to study visual acuity and worked with a computer science student to design VR that evoked an emotional response. She shared the result of her work at the Florida Film Festival in 1992 and 1993. According to Dr. Morie, “VR is now less expensive with more systems that are easier to use and a growing audience of interested people. VR is more malleable and beneficial in so many areas.”

Following the history of VR, the discussion transitioned to the history of Augmented Reality (AR) and its importance. According to Dr. Morie, “Augmented Reality is a much newer concept. In fact, AR is an offshoot of earlier VR technology.” Dr. Morie shared some examples of AR currently in use such as smart field views for planning and remodeling buildings, and as a means for interacting with products, and live events.

The event concluded with Dr. Morie sharing that VR and AR are “forcing functions for new generations to think about not only what constitutes our reality, but how all realities can, do, and will affect us as human beings.