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Essay: Emergence of Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR)

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Augmented and virtual reality have been used widely in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These technologies promise to change our lives unlike any other. While VR replaces your vision, AR adds reality to it. From learning new skills to being able to meet people virtually but with an immerse experience with the help of 3D graphics. AR/VR has made humans witness what once used to be impossible. AR and VR have numerous uses and huge benefits in the real world. Moreover, due to the onset of these technologies, the exploitation of real world objects in training has reduced by a reasonable percentage. This research paper mentions detailed information about AR/VR systems, requirements to build such systems, and their applications. Then, it presents the tools and software used for recreating realistic environments and a comparison between different types of AR and VR systems. After that, we optimize the road map for selecting an appropriate system according to the field of applications. Moreover, we discuss how AR and VR affect the human brain and produce simulations. Finally, the conclusion incorporates the future and scope of these technologies while covering their increasing usage in the medical industry.

Keywords – Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Immersion, Virtual Training, Simulation, AR/VR systems.


Until recently, Augmented reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) technologies have served primarily as an inspiration for focus writers and special effects teams. After a long drought, in the 1990s these technologies have now become bigger than ever. Computer generated 3D environments allow the users to enter and interact with alternate realities. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) is a popular name for an absorbing, interactive experience in which a person perceives a synthetic environment by means of a special human-computer interface. The users are able to immerse themselves to varying degrees in the computer’s artificial world.

AR/ VR have become one of the main technologies to be discussed regarding their applications, usage, and their different types that can achieve huge benefits in the real world. The VR considered as full visualization environment using appropriate computer technologies whereas AR is used to add a more realistic experience to it. In most of the learning environment, VR becomes possible for many learners or trainees to simulate the real world. The benefits of this technology often start with computer graphics and continue for long times.
Nowadays, Augmented and Virtual reality is widely used in the tourism industry in collaboration with the photography and videography industries. This enables users to experience the magical destinations before actually visiting. Such immersion technologies include additional sensations, movements (for example a  roller coaster simulator) and feeling (for example if the user is sprayed with water) and also the sense of smell. Further in this research paper we will discover and discuss in depth, the numerous benefits of AR and VR.



The reign of virtual realities started in the year 1965. Jaron Lanier, the founder of VPL technologies was the one to introduce the term virtual reality with a research paper titled, ‘THE ULTIMATE DISPLAY’. Later it became more acknowledged by the public as a medical toy comprising, a helmet, gloves etc. The emergence of VR can be highlighted by the following:

A. The Sensorama (1975, Morton Heilig)

The Sensorama consisted of multiple sensors, that could make a chromatic film that previously recorded to be augmented by clear sound, smell, wind and other senses. Sensorama made people experience interactive cinema. Fig 1, shows the Sensorama machine.

B. The Ultimate Display (1965, Ivan Sutherland)

The Ultimate display, was an attempt to combine interactive graphics with sound, smell and force feedback to imitate the real world. It suggests using a Head Mounted display as a window for VR. The Ultimate Display, creates an illusion that you are in a room where a computer can control the existence of matter. Fig 2, shows the Ultimate Display.

C. The Sword of Damocles
The Sword of Damocles is neither system nor the early concept of the VR. It considered as the first hardware of VR. The first Head Mounted Display (HMD) constructed by Sutherland. It contains sounds as stereo updated due to the position and navigation of the user. It is the implementation of the ultimate display.

Fig 2, The Ultimate Display

D. GROPE (1971, University of North Carolina)

GROPE is a “prototype of a force-feedback system”. It allows users to feel a simulated computer force. Grope consists of a simple glove with a specific structure to give sensible feedback with “mechanically complex exoskeletal hand masters”. It aimed at combining both haptic and a visual display and was used by chemists for a drug-enzyme docking procedure. Fig 3, shows the GROPE system.

Fig 1. The Sensorama Machine

Fig 3, GROPE Force Feedback Display

E. VIDEOPLACE (1971, Myron Krueger)

It is a virtual or conceptual environment with no real existence. The VIDEOPLACE, controls the relationship of the images of users and the places in a graphics scene. The imagination shadow of users in VIDEOPLACE system is determined by the camera that posted on a screen. Such systems, enable users to interact with other participant objects.
A VIDEOPLACE consists of two adjacent rooms and the camera captures the gestures, each participant can be seen by the other in both the rooms. Fig 4, shows the working of videoplace.

F. VIVED (created in 1984)

VIVED is an abbreviation of “Virtual Visual Environment Display” that was created at NASA Ames. It consists of a stereoscopic monochrome HMD. It was created to enable people to describe their own digital world for other people to see it as a 3D space. Fig 5, shows an example of VIVED.


Fig 5, VIVED

G. VPL (Data Glove created in 1985 and the Eyephone HMD created in 1988)

VLP is a company who manufactures and created Data Glove and Eyephone HMD as the first commercially available hardware of VR for the public. The Data Glove was used as an input device. The Eyephone is a head mounted display used to provide a feeling of immersion.

H. BOOM (created in 1989, Fake Space Labs)

Binocular Omni-Orientation Monitor (BOOM) is “a small box containing two CRT monitors that can be viewed through the eye holes.” In the system of BOOM, the user can take the small box with his/her eye movements, move it through virtual environments and keep track of the box by the eye orientation Fig. 6 shows the BOOM machine.

I. Virtual Wind Tunnel (created in 1990)

Virtual Wind Tunnel developed to allow the monitoring and investigation of flow fields included with BOOM and Data Glove. The Virtual Wind Tunnel is developed at NASA Aimes [3]. Fig. 8 shows an example of the Virtual Wind Tunnel. This type of VR helps scientists to utilize a Data Glove to input and manipulate “the streams of virtual smoke in the airflow around a digital model of an airplane or space shuttle. Moving around (using a BOOM display technology) they can watch and analyze the dynamic behavior of air flow and easily find the areas of instability”.

Fig 6, Binocular Omni-Oriented Monitor (BOOM).

J. CAVE ( 1992)

CAVE is a scientific virtualization system. The user wears a LCD shutter based glasses in order to experience the simulation. It consists of three walls and one door as the fourth wall. Projectors are used on all the flat wallas which allows the user to get a better sense of full immersion.


The term Augmented reality was coined by a Boeing researcher named ‘Tom Caudell’ in the late 1990s. He was asked to create a replacement for Boeing’s current system of large plywood boards with wiring instructions for each aircraft being built. Caudell and his co-worker David Mizell proposed a head-mounted display for construction workers that superimposed the position of cables through the eyewear and projected them onto multipurpose, reusable boards. Instead of having to use different boards for each aircraft, the custom wiring instructions could instead be worn by the workers themselves. The emergence of Augmented Reality has been highlighted as follows:

A. Virtual Fixtures (created in 1992, USAF armstrong Labs)

Because 3D graphics were too slow in the early 1990s to present a photorealistic and spatially-registered augmented reality, Virtual Fixtures used two real physical robots, controlled by a full upper-body exoskeleton worn by the user. To create the immersive experience for the user, a unique optics configuration was employed that involved a pair of binocular magnifiers aligned so that the user’s view of the robot arms were brought forward so as to appear registered in the exact location of the user’s real physical arms. Fig 7, shows the virtual fixture.

B. Hybrid Synthetic vision system (created in 1998)

In 1998, NASA created a hybrid vision system of their X-38 spacecraft. The system leveraged AR technology to assist in providing a better navigation during flight training. Fig 8, shows the mock-up of the map data displayed on a pilot’s screen.

Fig 7, Virtual Fixtures

Fig 8, AR component displayed map data on the pilot’s screen.

C. The AR Game (created in 2000)

AR Quake launched – the first AR game. As well as a head-mounted display, players had to wear a backpack containing a computer & gyroscopes.

D. AR Tennis ( created in 2005)

The early 2000s saw the debut of augmented reality apps for smart phones. One of the first was AR Tennis – a two-player AR game developed for Nokia phones. AR Tennis is the first example of a face to face collaborative AR application developed for mobile phones. In this application two players sit across a table from each other with a piece of paper between them with a set of AR Tool Kit markers drawn on it. Computer vision techniques are used to track the phone position relative to the tracking markers. When the player points the phone camera at the markers they see a virtual tennis court overlaid on live video of the real world. Fig 9, shows the AR Tennis Court.

Fig 9, AR Tennis Court

E. Pokemon Go (created in 2016, Nintendo and Niantic)

Niantic and Nintendo launched Pokemon Go – the hugely popular location-based AR game that put AR on the mainstream map. In the case of Pokémon Go, players traverse the physical world following a digital map, searching for cartoon creatures that surface at random. People look through their smartphone cameras to find Pokémon. When an animated creature appears, they toss Pokéballs at it until it is subdued.

Fig 10, Augmented reality in Pokemon go.


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