Ivan Sutherland's Head-Mounted Display

Ivan Sutherland's HMD (head-mounted display), was one of the earliest augmented reality devices developed in 1968 at his Harvard research lab. It suspended a display in front of the user's eyes and used head tracking, laying the foundation for modern VR and AR technologies.

The Immersive Archive has created a VR simulation of "Ivan Sutherland's HMD"  which was captured with high-resolution photogrammetric scanning technologies. In collaboration with The Computer History Museum, we studied the Sutherland archival materials and interviewed his colleagues Bob Sproull and Harry Lewis to recreate the Sutherland lab as accurately as possible.

Click for Ivan Sutherland's HMD VR Experience
(Coming soon)

Ivan Sutherland is a computer scientist and one of the pioneers in the field of computer graphics and human-computer interaction. He is known for his work on the "head-mounted display" (HMD), which is a wearable device that allows users to see computer-generated graphics overlaid onto their view of the real world. Sutherland's HMD,  was one of the earliest examples of augmented reality technology and was developed in the 1960s while he was at Harvard University.

The HMD was a large, heavy device that suspended from the ceiling and held a tracking system and a display screen in front of the user's eyes. It used head tracking to adjust the displayed graphics based on the user's head movements, creating a primitive form of virtual reality. While the technology was cumbersome and not practical for everyday use, it laid the foundation for future developments in virtual and augmented reality.

Ivan Sutherland's work on the HMD and his contributions to computer graphics have had a significant impact on the development of modern virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.

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The Computer History Museum

Our Restoration Process

Scanning Sutherland's HMD

The 3D assets used in the simulation were captured with high-resolution photogrammetric scanning technologies and imported into a Unity environment.

Interviews with Bob Sproull and Harry Lewis

The simulation has been complemented by extensive research into Sutherland's archival materials, including interviews and research papers.

Creating the VR Simulation

The simulation is developed in a Unity-based 3D computer graphics environment and displayed in contemporary VR devices such as the HTC Vive and Meta Quest. The current prototype of this experience allow users to see the original content that was developed, and interact with device components.