The Interactive Workbench was initially a collaboration between the University of Houston's Virtual Environment Research Institute (VERI, but then known as VETL) and BHP's research branch. The latter wished to evaluate the potential long-term impact of virtual reality (VR) on the resource industry. Oil and gas exploration, in which computer technology/expertise is widespread, was chosen as a testing ground.

Work began in the summer of 1997. Personnel from BHP Research in Newcastle, Australia, and VERI researchers developed a first prototype around the end of 1997. When the VrGeo consortium was founded, BHP agreed to merge ongoing research with its plans....

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