Virtuality is a line of virtual reality gaming machines produced by Virtuality Group, and found in video arcades in the early 1990s. The machines deliver real time (less than 50ms lag) gaming via a stereoscopic visor, joysticks, and networked units for multi-player gaming.
Initially introduced in 1991, the systems were developed for industry, where the first two networked systems were sold to British Telecom Research Laboratories to experiment with networked telepresence applications. Many other systems were sold to corporations including Ford, IBM, Mitsubishi and Olin. Professional virtual reality systems included the launch of the Ford Galaxy in virtual reality and a virtual trading floor for the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (LIFFE). However, the users' thrill of talking and mutually interacting with each other as virtual characters refocused the company's direction.
There are two types of units (referred to by the company as "pods"): One where the player stands up (SU), and the other where they sit down (SD). Both unit types utilize head-mounted displays (the "Visette") which each contain two LCD screens at resolutions of 276x372 each. Four speakers and a microphone were also built into the unit. The SU units have a Polhemus 'Fast Track' magnetic source built into the waist high ring with a receiver in a free-moving joystick (the "Space Joystick"), while the SD design has the player sitting down with joysticks, a steering wheel, or aircraft yoke for control, depending on the game. The SD system was developed and launched in 1993 at Wembley Stadium in London.
Using the magnetic tracking system the stereoscopic display was able to react to head movements to change the display based on what the player would be "looking at" within the gaming environment. The position of the joystick (also magnetically tracked) controls movement of the player's "virtual hand", and a button on the joystick moves the player forwards in the game arena.
- Dactyl Nightmare - Multiplayer map with several levels and platforms; grenade launcher weapons and pterodactyl enemy.
- Grid Busters - Robot shoot-em-up.
- Hero - Locked door puzzle.
- Legend Quest - Fantasy adventure.
- VTOL – A Harrier Jump Jet simulator.
There was also a 3000 series.
Developed W. Industries (named after its founder Dr. Jonathan D. Waldern) and later renamed Virtuality Group Plc. The company was backed by Lord Wolfson of Wembly Group Plc, who with Apax Venture Capital company, were majority shareholders. There were five group subsidiaries. In 1997, rights to the entertainment machines (but not the Virtuality brand) were sold to CyberMind UK in a breakup of the group owing to a dramatic slump in demand for the expensive (then $65,000) theme park and Arcade machines, causing the manufacturing division (called Virtuality Entertainment) insolvency. Thereafter CyberMind UK was sold to Arcadian Virtual Reality LLC in 2004. In Australia, Fun City Entertainment Complex in Sunshine, Melbourne Victoria is the only venue in Australia running the SU 2000 models and is an agent for the sale and support of the Virtuality entertainment systems. During the company sale, Dr Waldern purchased all IP consumer technology rights, in addition to all Virtuality brand rights other than entertainment machines. In 1998 he launched a ($299) consumer VR display in partnership with Philips Electronics (under the brand name "Scuba") and also Takara, Japan. Combined, over 55,000 headsets were sold mostly in Japan.
The company is currently working on next generation optoelectronics technology and applications including applications for Virtual Reality.
- Owner of Virtuality Brand, Technology and new Product Development
- Virtuality (Internet Archive)
- Arcadian Virtual Reality LLC—the current owner of Virtuality SU, SD & CS Arcade Machines
- Arcade History—where all the above games can be found
- Cybermind—Overview of the different systems