Heilig seemed to like things that blew his hair back. It's obvious from the wind generator in his Sensorama machine, but his worldly adventures seem to corroborate the assumption. After a few years of school, he served time overseas in the Army, and by 1946 he was in charge of the Medical Corps' motion picture services in Marseille, France. He left the military in 1947 and returned to school, studying painting in France, philosophy in Switzerland, film direction in Italy and later earning a Masters of Communication Arts in Pennsylvania. After years of soaking up the world's backdrop, he settled down in Mexico for a time, and it's there, in 1955, that he wrote his prescient essay Cinema of the Future.
In the spirit of the "Feelies" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, where sensory elements were used to heighten the "feely effects" of a movie, Heilig began to explore the potential of using tactile and sensory enhancements to accompany short films. In his essay, Heilig states "...without the active participation of the spectator there can be no transfer of consciousness, no art." He wasn't alone in trying to expand the art of the cinema during the '50s. There was a boom in the industry, with studios hastening to add larger and wider screens, 3D features and stereophonic sound to their repertoire. Names like Cinerama, Colorama, Panoramic Screen and Cinemascope were adorning marquees, in the hopes of drawing customers with sensational claims. Most of these systems, however, only dealt with enhanced visual or audio delivery of a film, leaving other senses out of the picture. One notable exception arrived in the form of Swiss inventor Hans Laube's Smell-O-Vision machine. It premiered in 1960 alongside the film Scent of Mystery, but the "smells" that it delivered to theatergoers were often poorly timed or too subtle to recognize, and it failed to catch on with audiences.