Humphrey 1996

Humphrey was no conventional flight simulator. It was a special construction that let users fly through virtual worlds. Unlike conventional flight simulators that put you inside a cabin, “Humphrey” let you fly almost as free as Superman or Supergirl.


Humphrey generated a flight like Superman. Foto: Ars Electronica
Humphrey generated a flight like Superman. Foto: Ars Electronica


Strapped into a specially constructed rig, the user took off on a flight through digital worlds, viewing 3-D images of the surroundings by means of a head-mounted display. The flight path was not determined by conventional steering devices but rather by the user’s head and hand movements, which provided for an especially realistic flight experience.


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The flight simulator “Humphrey” unmanned. Foto: Ars Electronica


With its futuristic appearance, “Humphrey” was not a space capsule that users climbed aboard but rather a technical apparatus strapped on like a backpack. The exterior shell consisted of pads that partially enwrapped the body to hold the user in flight position. The “flier,” however, remained recognizable as a human being, which was one of the chief aims of the design of this device.

The virtual environments were interchangeable. Besides a flight above the landscape of Upper Austria, users could also experience a vision of the future of the Ars Electronica Center.


Andreas Behmel, Thomas Kienzl, Tom Knienieder


Tom Knienieder