From Science Fiction to Technoscientific Innovation: The Case of Virtual Reality Headsets

By Thomas Michaud

The commercialization of virtual reality headsets is an important technical, economic, and imaginary stake. Since the 1980s, artists have imagined the immersion of Humanity in virtual worlds thanks to headsets and haptic suits. This article focuses on two science fiction novels that have inspired creators of virtual worlds: Ernest Cline, Ready Player One (2010) and Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash (1992). The links between this imaginary and engineers are established, with a special interest on the specific use of technical imaginary by the technoscientific system. Indeed, this imaginary plays an important role in the construction of consumers markets, partly through an utopian products placement common to a lot of science fiction movies and novels. The question of the role of imaginary in the process of innovation of virtual reality technologies is central to understand how this technoscientific field works and stimulates leaders of imaginary.JEL Codes: L26, M15


  • virtual reality headsets
  • science fiction
  • imaginary
  • innovation
  • utopian technologies
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