It’s a great problem to have,” said Mr. Williams. “And with a microphone as far away from you as we want, the next best thing you could ask is to ask for an ice cream cone or something,” he added.
If Mr. Williams’s goal were to create the ultimate virtual reality experience, he may have succeeded. If not, it will remain a fascinating puzzle to solve.
Video Virtual reality and the Web
Mr. Williams is hardly the first Web developer to have tried virtual reality.
In 1993, Eric S. Raymond, a professor at Yale University, published an article, “Virtualization,” in Information Processing magazine in which he described a “virtual reality simulator” that had been created by an Australian research group.
Mr. Raymond said that the user could navigate virtual environments using virtual keys on the keyboard, which he referred to as, “the mouse.” But he did not provide any examples. The article was a flop and Mr. Raymond’s research group later abandoned the project.
The virtual reality world, however, has been more popular in the tech world.
In 1995, Robert Scoble, an MIT graduate student and author of the book “What Computer Scientists Can Do” wrote a book titled “Virtual Reality in the Browser,” in which he described a virtual reality system that relied on Internet protocols to provide users with a rich virtual environment.
Mr. Scoble worked with Robert Noyce, a professor at Northwestern University, to create an interactive virtual world called the Virtual Worlds of the Digital Age. It was an application for the Apple Macintosh computer that allowed its users to walk around and interact with computer simulations, as virtual characters could talk in their own voices and point to things they were looking at through a pair of glasses.
As in the case of Mr. Williams, users could access the virtual world via a browser. “The browser was a wonderful place to put the user-interface on this,” Mr. Scoble told the Washington Post in 2005. “We wanted to build something that looked like a browser and had the user interface as if it were on the Internet.”
Mr. Scoble said that most people never imagined their computers would be used as virtual reality environments.
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“But some of us have gone there,” he said.
There are still things I can’t figure out, like which button turns lights off, how to get all of the buttons on
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