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Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated scenario that simulates a realistic experience.
Laurence Manning's 1933 series of short stories, "The Men Who Awoke"—later a novel—describes a time when people ask to be connected to a machine that replaces all their senses with electrical impulses and, thus, live a virtual life chosen by them (à la "The Matrix", but voluntary, not imposed). Weinbaum's 1935 short story "Pygmalion's Spectacles" describes a goggle-based virtual reality system with holographic recording of fictional experiences, including smell and touch.
Morton Heilig wrote in the 1950s of an "Experience Theatre" that could encompass all the senses in an effective manner, thus drawing the viewer into the onscreen activity.
This tactile information is generally known as force feedback in medical, video gaming and military training applications.
In 1938, Antonin Artaud described the illusory nature of characters and objects in the theatre as "la réalité virtuelle" in a collection of essays, Le Théâtre et son double.