Whatever happened to virtual reality?

Around ten years ago, there was much hype about ‘virtual reality’, VR: an interactive simulation of a shared three-dimensional reality.

I read a number of books and magazines about it. There was much talk of an artistic-technological revolution. However, the examples I’d seen at the time were simple and crudely-made, rather like being inside a badly-animated cartoon, and it became apparent that the state of the VR art was far behind the hype. After the early nineties VR kinda fell off the radar.

Computers and graphics have become dramatically more powerful per unit cost since then, and it seems time for a reevaluation.

So… is there anything still going on in VR? Is there a new generation of artists, techies, and visionaries? Or is it just off in some niche somewhere, doing medical visualisations or something?

This is one of the big journals in the field–knock yerself out.

Q. Whatever happened to virtual reality?

A. You’re in it

Simulating a 3D universe is not as easy as it sounds. Personal computing power still isn’t there yet. Speaking from experience on this one - plotting 29,000 stars in 3D space on a P4 1.6GHz takes too long to be useful for anything like real-time interaction. (Too much foating point math.) Rooms, faces, and especially outdoor scenes would be even worse.