Silicon Valley – the hotbed of VR and AR

The drive up Highway 1 from Los Angeles to San Francisco is one of the most captivating in the world. On this iconic trip up the coast, you’ll see idyllic and rugged coastline, charming towns, and peaceful beaches. Arrive in Silicon Valley and San Francisco and you can explore an area full of culture, world-class restaurants, and stunning sceneries, all while surrounding yourself with the great innovators of the tech world. The area known as Silicon Valley is a hotbed of technological development in many fields, including the very exciting areas of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).

Sunset on San Bruno mountain
Sunset on San Bruno mountain

Business and tech experts say that AR and VR will soon be a key aspect of our daily life, both personal and professional – from augmenting workers’ views of machinery with statistics and functional controls, to assisting doctors in surgery, to allowing travelers to visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris via virtual reality experience. And all without leaving our armchairs and finding restaurant recommendations mapped directly onto the streets around us. But this exciting future would be impossible without the first, early discoveries in human interface technology by scientists like Thomas Furness III.

AR and VR bring many future possibilities for our daily life
AR and VR bring many future possibilities for our daily life

By the way: Thomas Furness, the grandfather of VR

Furness started out with the US Air Force in the 1960s as a cockpit designer of military planes. His work on display design plus developing controls that could utilise the head position of the pilot led him towards early VR. Tools he initially designed to help pilots in the real cockpit in flight were then used to create flight simulation for pilot training.

By the 1980s, Furness had a hand in developing the VCASS (Virtual Coupled Airborne Systems Simulator), a more complex system for allowing pilots to control increasingly sensitive and complicated aircraft in the tiny space of the cockpit. After this came the Super Cockpit of 1986. This system used a special helmet, suit, and gloves that all worked together to allow the pilot to operate in a virtual world within the cockpit.

After the 1980s, Furness took his work to the private sector, founding the Human Interface Technology Lab (HIT Lab) at the University of Washington, where he remains a Professor to this day. He also works on various fascinating projects outside of the University, such as his 'skunkworks' company called RATlab LLC, which spearheads radical innovation for companies, and the Virtual World Society, a non-profit that works on developing Virtual Reality for educational uses by families, among many others.

In 2015, he received a lifetime achievement award for 50 years of contribution to VR and AR tech development at the Augmented World Expo in Santa Clara, Carlifornia. Furness’s early work is the direct predecessor of all VR and AR tech of today, from Virtual Reality headsets to games like 'Pokemon Go'. This is why he’s known as the 'Grandfather of Virtual Reality.'

The future of VR and AR is coming

There is so much happening in the world of VR/AR that it is hard to keep track. Some applications use your smartphone camera and others utilise new and increasingly wearable VR headsets that create a virtual world for gaming and business-related activities. The future of this technology looks promising, and the business world is watching with excitement. As John Koetsier writes for Forbes: “In the future, every object will be smart.” For now, you can be sure that a drive through gorgeous San Francisco and Silicon Valley puts you right where the action is in this exciting field.

In the future, every object will be smart
John KoetsierForbes writer

Embrace the future with Porsche

Meanwhile, AR has arrived at Porsche: check out the new AR Visualizer app. Use your smartphone or tablet to customise your future car. Then view it parked in front of your house or in your driveway or explore new colours and wheels on your own Porsche or even drive any Porsche you choose with the interactive driving mode. Enjoy the virtual drive!

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