The New Media Museum collects, preserves and exhibits a wide variety of innovative computer interfaces ranging from the most historic to the latest and greatest (i.e. Oculus Rift, Gear VR, Leap Motion etc.) The collection evolved as an extension of Mary Hopper’s long term interest in both making and teaching about immersive experiences. Since the collection has grown over the course of thirty years, it now also illustrates how computer interfaces and immersive technologies evolved over time. The collection is specifically intended to demonstrate how some technologies used together can be even more immersive and actually approach the experience of “presence.”
Sensorama & Wishful Thinking
Like many other immersive media enthusiasts, Mary Hopper was initially inspired by Morton Heilig’s theoretical and technical vision of total experience that he embodied in his Sensorama machine. It was a multi-sensory “Experience Theatre” that combined stereoscopic visuals with physical sensations. Heilig actually produced five experiences for the simulator. A user could spend two minutes and a token to enjoy wide-angled stereoscopic visuals, stereo sound, motion, wind and scent, triggered by tracks in 35mm film. To capture the special footage, Morton developed a side-by-side dual film 35mm 3-D motion picture camera, with capacity for two 400 ft magazines.
Here is a YouTube video of him doing a demonstration of it.
Morton Heilig’s Sensorama (Interview).mov
Theoretically, at least from looking at some sites still lurking on the web, a Sensorama is still for for sale. While it is unlikely that the New Media Museum will ever be able to afford this awesome artifact, it is the case that a large poster of it can be made and posted in this exhibit as a tribute to Heilig’s invention.
Sensorama: World’s first virtual reality machine yours for $1.5 million (2013)
The New Media Museum has inherited an first generation Oculus Rift Development Kit and a HTC Vive from Mary Hopper’s Digital Den collection.
There are also peripherals necessary to run iRacing.
There is also an assortment of low-end VR headsets that can be used to illustrate the relative quality of experiences provided by them.
In addition to VR headsets, a number of 360° cameras in the collection.
Natural User Interfaces
A variety of products designed to illustrate the concept of natural user interfaces was also inherited from Mary Hopper’s company Digital Den.
Here is a YouTube video of Digital Den’s exhibit that was entitled May the Force be with You. As you will see, the collection includes numerous affordable products (Leap Motion, Mindwave etc.).
Gaming Systems & Peripherals
Finally, the New Media Museum has a robust and growing collection of modern gaming systems along with an extensive collection of peripherals that continue the theme of non-traditional computer interfaces.
Hopper, M. E. (2008, May). Ok, now what? Ideas from Havok to the Holodeck. Sloan-C International Symposium, Emerging Technology Applications for Online Learning, Carefree, AZ.