There are plenty of digital gadgets that can make users feel as though they’re being transported through time and space. But the sensation of being immersed in another era or a different realm is much older than today’s VR headsets.
The origins of the experience may come from an ancient artform: theater.
“As a set designer, I would think about experiences that are recreating augmented reality, essentially,” says Brave Williams, an associate professor at Husson University in Maine. “It is an augmentation of reality that has been done for thousands of years.”
Now, Williams is helping his institution push the boundaries of Shakespeare’s famous line that “all the world’s a stage.”
The seed for the degree program was planted in 2016, when Husson received an anonymous $1 million donation to support the study and instruction of virtual reality. The gift led to the creation of the iEX Center on campus, a hub for extended reality research and learning.