New Book Features School Professor as UK Virtual Reality Pioneer

Sex and Drugs and Tessellation cover

Professor Bob Stone’s 27 years of international involvement in the Virtual Reality community has been acknowledged in a new book to be launched in the UK this week with the rather interesting and intriguing title of Sex, Drugs and Tessellation – The Truth About Virtual Reality.  The book has been written by Ben Delaney, editor of CyberEdge Journal which was, from 1991 to 1997, the premier international source of information relating to all new technological and applications developments evolving from the fledgling VR “industry”.

The book has been designed not only to recognise the original pioneers of Virtual Reality but also to draw the attention of contemporary digital enthusiasts to the fact that today’s marketing hype and all-too-often disappointing end user experiences with the numerous wearable and interactive technologies, launched from (for example) crowd-funding sources such as Kickstarter, are by no means a new or unique phenomenon.  Indeed, those “investing” today in allegedly brand new products and applications for Virtual and Augmented Reality, many involving often outlandish and still very cumbersome wearable technologies, are experiencing identical frustrations to those purchasers of the early VR head-mounted displays, interactive gloves, hand controllers and suits in the 1990s and early 2000s! 

As well as being one of just a handful of international “VR Veterans” to feature in the book, Prof Stone was also invited to pen a few memories about his early experiences, specifically in the early 1990s, when he was responsible for developing a Virtual Reality Research team at the UK’s National Advanced Robotics Research Centre in Salford.  In the book he talks about developing the world’s first tactile feedback glove, Teletact, and the launch of the first VR R&D consortium, wholly supported by British Industries, including Rolls-Royce, Sainsbury’s, BNFL, ICI and many others.

Ben Delaney said: “Professor Robert Stone is one of the United Kingdom’s pioneering Virtual Reality researchers. He has pushed the technology since starting to develop a tactile feedback glove in the early 1990s, through debunking some of the most outrageous claims of the VR Hype period, and continuing in building virtual monuments and using Virtual Reality technologies for advanced telepresence applications.  As I started building my book on VR, I asked a number of Virtual Reality luminaries to offer personal reminiscences of their work in the field. Prof Stone was one of the first names that came to mind. His pioneering work and continued presence in the field make him a ‘must have’ for a collection of stories detailing the early development of VR.  Virtual reality would be very different if he had not been involved. The UK’s Virtual Reality hall of fame must certainly include him, with a long list of his many valuable contributions”.