Tennessee Aquarium to use new virtual reality gear to promote virtual river conservation

Andree Herbert tries out the Oculus Rift virtual reality device on March 20, 2015, in a classroom at the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theatre in Chattanooga. The Oculus Rift is a virtual reality device, and the aquarium is using a development kit version to build VR programming which teaches students about stream ecology conservation.

Check it out

On Monday, representatives from Tennessee Technological University will be at the Tennesssee Aquarium to show off the River Ecosystem Conservation virtual reality experience. A demo unit will be set up in the lobby of the River Journey Building from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Virtual history

Although it recently has re-entered the spotlight, VR has been a techie dream for decades. Here are some of the milestones on the road to making virtual a reality: * 1962: Morton Heilig patents the Sensorama Simulator, an enclosed booth in which viewers are shown short films that "stimulate the nervous system" with a combination of 3-D images "binaural sound, breezes, odor and tactile sensations." * 1965: Ivan Sutherland, director of the Information Processing Techniques Office of the Advanced Research Projects Agency, creates The Sword of Damocles, a head-mounted display that changes the image by tracking the user's head movement through a headset attached to a mechanical arm suspended from the ceiling.