VPL Research was one of the first companies that developed and sold virtual reality products. It was founded by VR pioneer Jaron Lanier in 1985. VPL started in the corner of Lanier's cottage in the San Francisco Bay Area. "VPL" stood for "Visual Programming Languages", and Lanier said that the goal of the company was to create a visual programming language to bring programming to a mass audience. In 1990, VPL Research filed for bankruptcy and in 1999 all of its patents were bought by Sun Microsystems.
This device originally started as an input system for computers. It was later used for virtual reality systems. Thomas Zimmerman invented the prototype of the Data Glove and began looking for other people to help work on it. The device was using 6502 microcontrollers. Zimmerman met Mitch Altman and asked him to join VPL part-time because Altman knew how to program the microcontrollers.
The system was wired to a computer. It was interactive and contained fiber-optic bundles to track movements and orientation. That data would then be transmitted to the computer so that the information could be duplicated virtually. It allowed for people to manipulate and re-orient virtual objects. Applications for this wearable device centered on input computer control, gaming, and also the potential for remote surgery.
This was a head mounted display (HMD) that was meant to immerse users into a computer simulation. It could track head movements. The headset used Fresnel lenses.
The DataSuit was a full-body outfit with sensors for measuring the movement of arms, legs, and trunk.