Jaron Zepel Lanier is an American computer scientist, best known for popularizing the term virtual reality.
A pioneer in the field of VR, Lanier and Thomas G. Zimmerman left Atari in 1985 to found VPL Research, Inc., the first company to sell VR goggles and gloves. In the late 1990s, Lanier worked on applications for Internet2, and in the 2000s, he was a visiting scholar at Silicon Graphics and various universities. More recently, he has acted as an advisor to Linden Lab on their virtual world product Second Life, and as "scholar-at-large" at Microsoft Research where he has worked on the Kinect device for Xbox 360.
Lanier is also known as a composer of classical music and a collector of rare instruments; his acoustic album, Instruments of Change features Asian wind and string instruments such as the khene mouth organ, the suling flute, and the sitar-like esraj. Lanier was the director of an experimental short film, and teamed with Mario Grigorov to compose the soundtrack to the documentary film, The Third Wave. As an author, Lanier has written a column for Discover magazine.
Lanier is known for his scepticism about claims sometimes made about progress in computing and about the internet. His book, You Are Not a Gadget, is a critique of Web 2.0.