Known as the Grandfather of Virtual Reality, Dr. Thomas Furness is an American inventor and virtual reality pioneer based in Seattle, Washington. Furness is a professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the University of Washington. He is the founder of the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington, as well as its sister labs at the University of Canterbury and University of Tasmania. Since the 1960's, his career has been about how to achieve radical innovation through helping others to “see anew.” In inspiring a paradigm shift in thinking about the virtuality continuum, his work and global network of labs has shifted the thinking from being about function to purpose; perception to performance; from capabilities to possibilities.
Furness recently received the first-ever lifetime achievement award for his 50 years service in the fields of virtual and augmented reality from the Augment World Expo in Santa Clara, California. In addition to being a professor at the University of Washington, he is also the general manager and owner of the RATLab, an engineering research and development company.