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    A Short History of Personal Flying Machines

    It seems that there has been a recent surge in small, personal aircraft. Whether it be hover bikes, man-carrying drones, wing-suits, or even water-spewing hydro-jet backpacks, these machines are intended to get you airborne with a minimum of encumbrances. It's the closest you can get to flapping your arms and taking off.

    My examples represent some very recent advancements in technology. Yet, the concept of personal, even wearable, aircraft stretches back many decades. I don't mean that starry-eyed visionaries were merely dreaming of these types of devices. They were actually building them and making them fly!

    Here are some examples of those personal flying machines from yesteryear.

    Pentecost HX-1 Hoppi-Copter

    During WWII, Horace Pentecost worked as an aeronautical engineer in Seattle. Helicopters were still in their infancy at this time. Pentecost spent his days at Boeing helping to overcome the substantial design challenges that rotary-wing flight presented. His off time was spent in much the same way, just on a smaller scale.

    Pentecost's after-hours goal was to develop a compact, wearable helicopter. His HX-1 Hoppi-Copter used a small, 20-horsepower gasoline engine. This engine powered a pair of 12'-diameter (3.7m) contra-rotating blades to provide lift. The 88-pound (40kg) contraption was fitted to a small tubular frame that was worn like a backpack. A single control stick dangled in front of the pilot. If you can picture Inspector Gadget's Gadget 'Copter, you're pretty close to the Hoppi-Copter.

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 23: Inside-Out Tracking with Single Camera

    One of the next frontiers for virtual and augmented reality headsets is inside-out positional tracking, a problem that's yet to be fully solved. We visit the offices of Occipital--makers of the Structure Sensor--to get a demo of their inside-out tracking system that can work with a single camera, and chat with Occipital's CEO about their approach to this computer vision challenge.

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 19: Bigscreen VR and GunHeart Hands-On!

    Jeremy and Norm review Bigscreen VR, a free app that lets users share their desktops and videos over virtual reality. We discuss the social and human-computer interaction implications of Bigscreen, and how an operating system might look like in VR. Plus, we go hands-on with Gunheart in a demo session with the developers!

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 18: Marvel Powers United VR, Oculus Interview

    In this on-location episode, we attend a preview event to get hands-on time with Marvel Powers United VR, co-op brawler that lets you feel like a superhero. We chat with the game's developer and give initial impressions, and then sit down for a longer interview with Oculus' Nate Mitchell about the state of Rift.

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 17: The Past, Present, and Future of VR/AR

    For this special episode of Projections, we're joined by futurist Kevin Kelly to discuss the past, present, and future of virtual reality and augmented reality. Kevin has been following VR since its inception, during his tenure as Editor of Wired and most recently as one of the few people who've used Magic Leap. He also just wrote a book about the inevitable technological forces that will change our world.

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 14: Inside Nomadic VR's Physical Playground

    We visit the production stages of Nomadic, where this location-based virtual reality company is developing a physical, tactile, VR experience that they hope to bring to malls and theaters. Their immersive demo surprised us with all of its tracked objects, and we sit down with Nomadic's head of physical production and executive producer to learn how they're experimenting in this space.

    Hands-On with Formlabs' Fuse 1 SLS 3D Printer!

    We visit the headquarters of Formlabs, makers of the Form 2, to check out their newest 3D printer. The Fuse 1 is a SLS printer, which can make highly detailed and complex models with nylon using a process that has not been accessible to prosumers. Sean gets an in-depth look at the Fuse 1, several of its prints, and sends one of his own models through the SLS process to inspect its print quality! (Disclaimer: Formlabs provided our travel for this preview trip.)

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 9: Meta's Augmented Reality Glasses

    We visit the headquarters of Meta, the company making augmented reality glasses and already shipping their second product. The Meta 2 is a tethered HMD that can track and display holograms in any environment--we go hands-on with the developer kit and chat with Meta VP Ryan Pamplin about how their AR technology differs from the Hololens and other products. Plus, in-depth impressions!

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 8: Dexmo's VR Haptic Exoskeleton

    In this episode of Projections, Jeremy and Norm discuss how hand presence has presented itself to consumers over the past three years of virtual reality hardware. We get a demo of Dexmo, a wireless exoskeleton controller that tracks individual fingers and promises to provide haptic feedback to let you actually feel objects in VR. Jeremy chats with Dexta Robotics' CEO about challenges to haptics technology and how they're tackling the problem.

    PROJECTIONS, Episode 1: The Mage's Tale, rEvolve Prototype Hands-On

    Welcome to PROJECTIONS, a new show about the latest in virtual and augmented reality. This inaugural episode kicks off with a discussion of depth in VR games, an exclusive hands-on preview of The Mage's Tale, and a spotlight on the rEvolve accessory prototype for the HTC Vive. Let us know what you think, and what you'd like to see in future episodes!