How far we have come!
In the good ol' days of home theatre, home owners tried to simulate multi-directional sound with two speakers in front of them, one to the left and one to the right. For obvious reasons, this did not work out very well, but did give a better volume boost than a simple television in the center of the room. With the help of Bell Telephone scientists, it was determined that a minimum of three speakers was need to try and simulate the raw, real world sounds in a more realistic way.
During the 50's and 60's, Movie Theaters where investigating how to attract more business by making the user experience better. They discovered that the more speakers they added to the theater, the better moviegoer experience. Thus, they added more and more speakers. Eventually, they added speakers in the rear for ambient background sounds. Speakers were next added to the sides for music and a three speaker setup in front for left, right and a center speaker, giving the consumer a more realistic, life-like sound.
The next major evolutions came in the 80's where Dolby introduced 4 channel surround sound. Then came another major break through in home theatre with the release of DVD's for in home viewing entertainment. With DVD's, Dolby released the current standard of Dolby 5.1 surround sound giving the market a five speaker range of sounds for movie theaters and home owners alike. This included two front speakers for sound and music, a center speaker for vocals and 2 rear speakers for background noise. This new shift made it possible for today's home theatre experience.
Even today, the projector movie experience is still the staple in commercial theaters as well as the home theatre. Projectors have made their own advancements in quality and projection capabilities. With the digital age, they have became even smaller, cheaper and have made vast improvements in quality. The technology has come so far that these projector screens can easily be mounted in the ceiling to drop down at the command of a remote or still can be mounted to the wall for the classic drop down. Some projectors still sit on a table as they did in the 50's giving them mobility to be moved from room to room. Nowadays, most in home projectors are ceiling mounted for convenience and for seamless projection to the screen. This also makes it easier for data and surround sound connections, so that the cinema can be integrated into home automation services.
So what does the future hold? Virtual reality, 3D technology and television sizes are on the rise, but are still in their infancy. There will be major improvements with the advent of this technology and the expected advancements they will bring into the market. Some companies are even experimenting with speakers built into chairs to give more "in the moment" sound and bringing the ability to feel the vibrations of explosions and high revving motors on the screen. Companies today are racing to bring their tech to the market first and the future is looking very bright indeed. Disney has been experimenting with adding smell into some of their theaters. Trying to emulate burping, flowers, and potions. The only sense that is still waiting to be added to the experience array is taste, but there is probably someone working on that today.