Cyberface4 and the Virtual Orbiter (CIRCA 1996)
LEEP Virtual Vistas for Trade Shows
Imagine orbiting the Earth in an untethered spacewalk. LEEP's Virtual Reality Spacewalk, also known as The Virtual Orbiter, convincingly delivers this sensation to trade show attendees. At the heart of the Virtual Orbiter lies the Cyberface4, a higher resolution iteration of the tried and true Cyberface3 head-guided interface system.
Originally intended as the first in a series of Virtual Adventures, The Virtual Orbiter is a standup, standalone, true Virtual Reality experience designed expressly as a trade show attraction. Unlike most VR offerings available for trade shows, the display is supported, seemingly weightless, on an arm that allows the user to look freely in every direction in the virtual world. This arrangement eliminates ergonomic and cleanliness problems that generally tend to be costly and troublesome. The Virtual Orbiter is an view of Earth that spans from from 20,000 miles out, down to 200 miles, and back, allowing the space walker to look around at the blue and white spaceship Earth wheeling majestically below all during the flight. It doesnt take long, it requires no practice and the booth visitors are happy to be there.
Above: A captivated Spacewalker peers at the Earth with the Virtual Orbiter.
The Virtual Orbiter Stands Alone
The Virtual Orbiter was shown publicly for the first time at the VR '95 Show in November 1995 in Boston. Visitors found that operating the Spacewalk was easy, intuitive, and required no help from an attendant. All left smiling from their moment in orbit.
So many people are intrigued by Virtual Reality that we offered the trade show exhibitor a way to dramatically increase booth traffic with the Virtual Orbiter. The Virtual Orbiter is designed to breathe new life into that old trade show booth. We have never seen a booth to which the Virtual Obiter cannot add value and extend life with a little thought given to the preparation of invitations and other collaterals.
Above: Part of the Virtual Orbiter hardware with its inventor, Eric Howlett, then president of LEEP Systems, Inc.
On March 27th 1996, Eric Howlett gave a talk on Virtual Vistas and the Virtual Orbiter at the Forum for International Trade Show Exhibition Participation and Management at Brandeis University. The forum was sponsored by Brandeis University, Babson College and Massport, in conjunction with the World Trade Center in Boston. The show was managed by World Access Corporation in Wellesley, MA. Mr. Howlett's topic was "Technology in Trade Show Management" and the effective use of audio/visual equipment in the booth, with major reference to the Virtual Orbiter. The orbiter was operating as it would at a trade show.
- 475 pound shipping weight.
- Easily uncrates.
- No assembly required.
- Starts and runs automatically when power is applied.
A Bit of History
The Virtual Orbiter launched LEEP Virtual Reality technology into the information age. Although LEEP Systems (then POP-OPTIX Labs) first subscribed to an Internet connection in 1989, The Virtual Adventures/Virtual Orbiter system of 1996 was what prompted the first commercial website. All images and much of the text on this page is derived from that early site.
Below: The top banner graphic from the LEEP Systems website in 1996.
Above Left: A spacewalk in progress at the VR '95 show in Boston in November 1995.
Above Right: Alex Howlett looks around earth from orbit for the first time during LEEP's Spacewalk open House in October 1995.