Thursday, January 29, 2015

Virtual Reality Gaming Tech Coming to the Fold with New Worlds, Simulations and Entertainment



""New ways to game and interact with virtual worlds are popping up every day. Across the gaming industry, VR is making a huge impact on the way we experience games and entertainment, and it's just getting started.

Sony's Project Morpheus, Samsung's Gear VR, and of course, the Oculus Rift, are all pushing the limits of virtual reality and how we interact with the everyday world.

But those big names are just the tip of the arrow when in comes to reality-altering technology. During a recent Upload VR event, dedicated to showcasing advancements in that field, IGN got the chance to go hands-on with the new tech that's ushering in the virtual age.

The STEM System
If you’ve ever wanted to wade into battle gripping dual lightsabers with blaster-deflecting precision, the STEM System is something to keep an eye on.

Developed by Sixense Entertainment, the STEM System is a collection of wireless, motion-tracking devices that work together to monitor your position, movement, and orientation in three-dimensional space.

STEM System - Lightsaber Demo
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While the potential of this technology could be applied to any industry, it's a natural extension to the virtual-reality gaming space, which I got to experience firsthand in Sixense's lightsaber demo.

Using the STEM System, coupled with the Oculus Rift, I was impressed with just how effectively the motion tracking was relayed into the headset. I immediately grabbed two lightsabers and waved them around independently, then watched them sizzle and spark as I touched the blades together in front of my face.

But the most intriguing part was how natural it felt to deflect incoming blaster shots from the demo's hovering droid. Each time a shot came at me, I tilted one saber and deflected the blast, bopping the droid with the other when it got too close. The relationship between my eyes and my muscles was as close to one-to-one as I've ever experienced in virtual reality.

And the hand controllers themselves are as intuitive as you want for gaming. They're lightweight, with a trigger and bumper set under your index finger, and a number of face buttons and an analog stick resting on top of the device, accessible by your thumb.

Modular Motion Tracking System
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The STEM system with virtual reality game support could soon find us in a future where we battle our friends in lightsaber duels, or slay dragons in Skyrim with sword and shield in hand. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get the chance to fight the Xenomorph Queen from Aliens, piloting the mechanical arms and legs of Ripley’s Power Loader suit.

Possibilities for interactive engagement in a virtual environment are limitless, and if the STEM system is any indication, they’re a lot closer than you might think.

FOVE - Eye Tracking Head Mount Display
The FOVE headset combines head position and orientation sensing with eye tracking technology. It also allows you to destroy things, just by looking at them.




FOVE Eye Aiming

During a live demo of the FOVE eye tracking head mount display, my eyes were quickly calibrated by the software, and I was immediately thrown into a short game where I overlooked a futuristic city.

Nearly everywhere I looked, a targeting indicator followed my vision. Shortly thereafter, hovering droves began to appear all over the screen, and when my gaze connected with a drone, a laser burst forward and the drone disappeared in a cloud of sparks and debris.

In other words, the FOVE headset turned me into Cyclops for a brief minute of childhood dream fulfillment, and destroying things with my eyeballs is now my preferred method of virtual destruction.

And while the tracking occasionally slipped and I found myself flicking my eyes off-target and back on in order to re-engage, the idea is sound and the technology backs it up. But blowing up virtual stuff is just one potential application.
  
The FOVE headset's ability to track your vision can simulate a better depth of field. In virtual worlds, it could even allow for a more potent artificial intelligence by "anticipating attack, participating in psychological warfare, and making realistic eye contact." All of which is incredibly cool, and a little terrifying.

And in the real world, the FOVE headset can help those with disabilities communicate with their eyes, by typing on a virtual keyboard, or interacting with a custom user interface.

Consistent eye tracking has a ton of practical applications in both the real world, and virtual ones, and the FOVE head mount display is a great step in that direction.

Reel FX - Jaeger Pilot VR Experience
Reel FX, an animation and virtual reality development studio, has collaborated with Legendary Pictures and Guillermo Del Toro to create the Jaeger Pilot VR Experience based on the robots-fight-monsters blockbuster Pacific Rim.

And unlike so many virtual or three-dimensional "experiences" you might find at amusement parks, Reel FX's creation actually feels like an experience.

Guillermo Del Toro Reveals Details About Pacific Rim 2 - Comic Con 2014
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I took the Jaeger Pilot VR Experience for a test drive running on a Samsung mobile device through the Gear VR goggles. Test drive is a fitting term, because when the "neural handshake" loading screen finished and the scene booted up, I was occupying the left control port inside the head of a giant Jaeger.

Looking to the right I saw my copilot, who was barking instructions while every thumping step of the giant triggered the shock pad attached to my chair and kicked me in the back. Before I could really process everything, we were punching giant Kaiju in the face with the infamous "Elbow Rocket."

After a few short tangles, the massive horn on the monster's head pierced the windshield of our Jaeger, crushing my copilot, and ripping him out into oblivion along with the right half of the Jaeger's face.""




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