Going Where No Minds Have Gone Before

To get a feel for what is different about virtual reality, meet Jaron Lanier, chairman of VPL Research Inc. Dreadlocks crown his ample frame. His Sausalito (Calif.) studio -- he's an accomplished musician -- is filled with exotic instruments. On the door hangs his image emblazoned on a psychedelic poster. The poster is hot in Europe, where VR is tres trendy and Lanier is a cult figure, reflecting VPL's preeminent role among the startups that are pushing the technology's frontiers.

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