An Overview of the Archive

Immersive Archive purpose

While virtual reality (VR) is a rapidly expanding medium, it has a long and rich history that has not yet been preserved and is at risk of extinction. The Immersive Archive is an initiative to restore and exhibit the seminal works from across virtual reality’s rich history.

Our team's objective

Similar in concept and function to a Film or Internet Archive that collects, restores, and conserves a wide range of media, Immersive Archive aims to provide users an interactive, first-person, immersive experience of XR's greatest research breakthroughs and experiences.

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The Archiving Process

Artifact scanning

A core part of our team's archiving and restoration process included brand new and high resolution 3D scans of Mort Heilig’s and Ivan Sutherland’s inventions. Our team's goal of doing these 3D scans was to allow the inventions to be viewed and experienced at scale in a modern-day headset.

Physical archive

Immersive Archive began with an interest in archiving and restoring the work of Mort Heilig, often cited as XR’s first practitioner. Mort’s seminal Sensorama device, as well as a full collection of his inventions and journals, are held by USC’s HMH Foundation Moving Image Archive, where restoration of Heilig’s devices and experiences is now underway.

Digital archive

Restoring and digitizing  Heilig’s early XR materials led to archiving the 1960s breakthroughs of XR’s other founding figure, Ivan Sutherland. Digitizing Heilig and Sutherland’s materials – the foundation of early XR research and development – laid down the first tracks of a comprehensive digital archive of the source materials of XR’s history.


Target Platforms

Immersive Archive will be developed on the OpenXR open standard to ensure cross-compatibility across XR platforms.

About the Lab

The USC Mobile & Environmental Media Lab is known for its pioneering research efforts in the area of “Ambient Storytelling” through the application of Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality technologies to develop unique interactive experiences.

Housed within the USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, the lab’s design methodology straddles the cultures of visual storytelling, games, and interaction design.

The lab's research has explored context- and location-specific mobile storytelling, interactive architecture, vehicular and environmental lifelogging, and automotive experience design in collaborations with a wide range of industry partners including Intel, BMW, Steelcase, Microsoft, Google, and Niantic.

Meet the Team

The team consists of faculty, staff, and students from the School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) along with other schools on campus.
Katrina Xiao
Architectural Studies
Media Arts + Practice
Michael Wahba
Interactive Media
Nathan Fairchild
Interactive Media
Zeynep Abes
Spencer Lin
Computer Science
Xander King
Scott Fisher
Professor and Director of USC Mobile & Environmental Media Lab
Mediatrix Lopez
Integrated Design, Business & Technology


Lisa Messeri
Cultural Anthropologist at Yale specializing in the History of Science and Technology
Eric Hanson
CEO of Blueplanet VR
Erkki Huhtamo
Media Archaeologist at UCLA


Interested in getting involved?
Reach out to us!