The Virtual World Society is delighted to share the announcement that our Founder, Tom Furness, has just been honored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers as a 2018 Fellow for his “leadership in virtual and augmented reality”.

With over 430,000 members the IEEE is the world’s largest and most prestigious engineering and technology professional organization and being named an IEEE Fellow is the culmination of nomination by peers and election by the IEEE Board of Directors and a rare and prestigious distinction reserved for only a very small, select group of members, based on extraordinary career records of accomplishment and significant contributions to “the advancement and application of technology, the betterment of humanity and realization of significant value to society.”

Previously honored by the IEEE with VR Career Award in 2016 for his “50-year lifetime contributions to the fields of virtual and Augmented Reality” Tom is universally recognized as “the grandfather of virtual reality” and one of its two most important founding pioneers.

Technology pioneer, inventor and educator, in addition to being the founder of our Virtual World Society, Tom is currently professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering with adjunct professorships in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Human Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Prior to joining the faculty at the UW in 1989, Tom spent 23 years as a U.S. Air Force officer and civilian scientist at the Armstrong Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Chief of Visual Display Systems and more famously, the creator and Director of the Super Cockpit program – the foundation and progenitor of today’s most advanced fighter plane, the F35 – as well as inventor and designer of breakthrough advanced cockpit and virtual interface technologies for the Department of Defense.

Among the list of breakthrough core virtual and augmented reality technology advances, inventions and patents Tom is best known for are invention of the personal eyewear display, the virtual retinal display, the HALO display and the founding and core AR technology behind the first Augmented Reality Company, ARToolworks.

That the IEEE – whose mission and core purpose is “the advancement and application of technology for the benefit of humanity and the improvement of global conditions” – should honor him again for who he is and what he’s contributed hardly surprises us.

But to all of us at the Society fortunate enough to know and love him, he is above all, friend, mentor, teacher and inspiration. The first Nextant – and someone who has uniquely touched, guided, shaped and changed the directions of our lives, careers and passion to advance and apply whatever technical gifts we have for good.

As no less a pioneer than Sir Isaac Newton is reported to have said: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants .”

The next time you put on a VR headset and see farther … think of that … and Tom Furness.

Virtual World Society Founder Tom Furness Named 2018 IEEE Fellow
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