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Experience The Victorians’ Virtual Reality at a New Exhibit

The unique stereoscope works similarly to modern VR head-mounted displays

Tricking your eyes into believing 2D objects were in three dimensions isn’t exactly a new discovery. For centuries we’ve understand how our eyes work and how we perceive depth, so it’s no surprise to learn that well over a century ago, the Victorians used stereoscopes in much the same way we used modern virtual reality (VR) head-mounted displays (HMDs).

Stereoscopes have been around since 1838 when invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone, and displayed two static images and viewing windows for your eyes. When the two images are viewed through the windows, hey-presto, your eyes perceive a 3D image. Of course, if you replace the static photographs with a modern display panel, you can see how the technology is still very similar.

The new exhibit will take place at Rievaulx Abbey in North Yorkshire. Guests will be able to use and learn more about a variety of stereoscopes, as well as use a modern stereoscope thanks to the London Stereoscope Company.

Image via English Heritage

Dr Brian May, co-owner of the London Stereoscope Company, shares his love of stereoscopes; “My devotion to stereos, rather like my passion for rock music, now spans at least 55 years – 3-D was photography that gave you a feeling of reality, rather than just a flat rendition on a piece of paper.”

May continues; “So I wondered, why didn’t everybody photograph everything in 3-D all the time? Well, I still haven’t figured that one out. But to me, and to all the kids who discovered over 50 years ago what is now known as ‘virtual reality’, the excitement has never left us.”

The exhibition is open from Friday June 23rd and will run until November 5th. Visitors will be able to view a variety of images through the stereoscopes – a fascinating look into earlier experiments which led to modern virtual reality.

For all of the latest on VR’s history and future, make sure to keep reading VRFocus.

Via Dr. Brian May/PA Wire
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