2000 33¢ Virtual Reality
Celebrate the Century – 1990s
Issue Date: May 2, 2000
City: Monterey, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: 11 ½
Virtual reality is an artificial environment created by high-tech computer equipment. It manipulates the human senses, especially of sight and hearing, to create a feeling of being inside a three-dimensional world. Participants can look at and seem to handle the computer-generated images of objects as if the items actually exist. This technology is most widely used in video games, but is also utilized in architecture, engineering, medicine, and training of athletes and pilots.
Virtual reality video games appeared in stores and arcades in the early 1990s. Most systems consist of a headset or helmet that contains two miniature television screens, one for each eye. The screens are connected to a computer system. When seen together, the images produce a three-dimensional view. A tracking device in the headset can sense which direction the user is looking, and as the head moves, the computer updates the images. Some systems also have a small speaker for each ear, which strengthens the illusion.
Another device utilized in virtual reality systems is a special glove that senses the movement of hands and fingers. The image of the glove appears on the video screen, and the user can feel the weight or resistance of the object being handled.