Virtual Reality, a tech geek dream for decades, was long hobbled by high latency, clunky hardware, and perennially absurd reports on network news. That all changed in 2011, when Palmer Luckey, then 18, built the first Oculus Rift prototype in his parents' garage with iPhone repair money. Awed by its powerful sense of presence, developer John Carmack became a fan and demoed it at E3. The ensuing Kickstarter campaign shattered all fundraising goals, and Facebook controversially bought the rights for a whopping $2 billion -- alienating erstwhile partner Valve Software, the iconic creators of Half-Life/Portal/Steam. A Cambrian explosion of headsets followed: Morpheus, HoloLens, Google Cardboard, Gear VR. But perhaps most interesting is Valve's own counter-project: a breathtaking "room scale" VR set-up with Tron-like "Chaperone" and tracked motion controls called the HTC Vive. With this week's commercial launch of Rift and Vive bringing us to the threshold of a new interactive medium, look inside for guides, notes, and killer apps for this, the stunning arrival of consumer VR. [more inside]
Dreams of Dalí is a 360º video that takes you inside Archaeological Reminiscence of Millet's "Angelus" into a surreal world, featuring some notable motifs from other paintings , such as Weaning of Furniture Nutrition (1934), Lobster Telephone (1936) and First Cylindric Chromo-Hologram Portrait of Alice Cooper's Brain (1973), set to a soundscape with audio of Salvador Dalí and a bit of Halo of Flies by Alice Cooper. [more inside]
"the [UCLA Game Lab] fosters research and development in not only computer or video games, but also physical, tabletop, and other game forms. Known for its annual Game Art Festival at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, California, the lab supports the production and exhibition of student work, but it also curates and promotes vanguard game design from around the world. Through its tripartite mission to push the envelope of game aesthetics, game context, and game genres, the lab nurtures game projects that often adapt contentious, controversial subjects not found (overtly, anyway) in many commercial games: issues of politics, gender and identity, industry and commerce, the environment, experiences of alterity, the silly and the surreal…. In short, all that composes lived experience becomes fair game, so to speak, for adaptation.." -- Playfully Subversive: the Many Roles of Adaptation in Making Games at the UCLA Game Lab by David O'Grady [more inside]
via Bigthink's writeup - "European researchers created a virtual reality simulation where participants could give advice to themselves — as Sigmund Freud. In the experiment, "volunteers wore very sophisticated VR (virtual reality) devices (headset and sensors) and were immersed in a virtual room where there was a duplicate representation of themselves and Sigmund Freud. The subject could alternately be in the avatar body representing themselves or in Freud's body. The movements of the avatars ... were perfectly synchronized with the subject's real movements, and this produced a powerful illusion of embodiment." The result was not only that people felt better, but also their advice was much more effective." But did the researchers pick the "best" psychoanalyst for this job? [more inside]
Sweden Simulator; a browser-based virtual-reality simulation of many of the common experiences of Swedish life. [more inside]
Glen Keane drawing in VR -- (SLVimeo) Glen Keane, animator (The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast) & son of Bil Keane, explores drawing with the Valve/HTC Vive VR system. [more inside]
Touring abandoned college campuses, Second-Life style. What happened to the virtual-world dreams of a decade ago? Patrick Hogan of Fusion investigates, and finds a pirate ship, Test Questios [sic], and defunct certification programs. Get comfy. [via ArsTechnica]
Ever wanted to get lost in a piece of art or feel like you're inside an anime? LA-based art duo kozyndan posted an immersive "VR" experience of their 2009 Miyazaki-esque piece "Nakano In Spring". (More info on the original piece is here) [more inside]
It's E3! As various tech companies demo, talk up and otherwise flog their entries in the great VR headset race, John Walker of RPS suggests they may be wasting their money.
The video for Squarepusher's ‘Stor Eiglass’ is an immersive psychedelic VR extravaganza (see video description for full details) Creative Review on the making of
There are dozens of questions surrounding Magic Leap’s supposedly magical, definitely mysterious, and potentially overhyped creation. Will it be an “eyeglasses-like device,” as The Wall Street Journal has reported, or a pair of contact lenses that project images right on our eyeballs? What’s it for? Does it have practical applications? Or is it all about entertainment? And when will it be available?
Have an android phone? And a pizza box? Then you can build your own Virtual Reality system. Cardboard, from google.
The VR Chicken Matrix: "a virtual chicken world in which caged animals think they're wandering happily around in the open... got me thinking again about Facebook's recent purchase of Oculus VR."
Birdly: An Attempt to Fly. "‘Birdly’ is an installation which explores the experience of a bird in flight. It tries to capture the mediated flying experience, with several methods. [...] Visualized through HMD (Oculus Rift) the participant is embedded in a virtual landscape where his body is the body of a Red Kite. The whole scenery is perceived in the first person perspective of a bird. To intensify the embodiment we include additional sonic, olfactoric and wind feedback. Soundwise you perceive only the roaring of the wind and the flaps of the wings." [more inside]
Mark Zuckerberg buys Occulus Rift the darling of 3D VR gaming (previously: 1, 2) for about $2B. Given that the Oculus Rift was poised to be a major breakthrough for gaming, getting acquired by a
advertising company social network has sent The Internet into a collective freakout.
Reverse engineering Strike Commander. Fabien Sanglard realized he wanted to play ORIGIN Systems "Strike Commander" combat flight sim using an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset (Sanglard on Oculus Rift development). But, after he learned the source code went missing during the shutdown of Origin by EA, he decided he no choice but to reverse engineer the massive—for the early 90s—game (eleven 1.44MB floppy disks!).
Dr. Robin Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and expert in the psychology of superheroes, has conducted a new study showing that having people fly like Superman in a virtual-reality simulator makes them act more heroic in real life.
Talking VR with John Carmack. John Carmack (previously) talks about the state of head-mounted VR displays. Includes details about how he used software from his aerospace company to make current commercial products better and homebrew kits that outperform anything commercially released so far. [more inside]
The Nottingham Cave Survey is active program that is recording all of Nottingham's 450+ sandstone caves, using a laser scanner to capture 3D details of the caves. So far, there are over 100 clips on YouTube, most of them flythroughs into the caves. Many clips are short, some clocking under a minute, while others run over 10 minutes, such as the tour of the private Peel Street Caves (Rouse's Sand Mine [PDF]).
Villanova University, who first made the VR Tour of the Sistine Chapel, have made more of the Vatican’s most sacred sites virtually available online: the basilicas of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major, as well as the Pauline Chapel. Bonus: smaller panoramas from other historic Roman sites, but you'll have to deal with tourists.
Statsis: A short film by Christian Swegal In the future, an Ex-Soldier is placed in virtual exercises to cure his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the simulations, he sees glimpses of a mysterious girl, presumably someone from his past. When a Stranger appears in his facility offering answers, the Soldier finds himself once again asked to kill, this time for her... [more inside]
Fifteen years ago this week, programmer Ron Britvich launched version 1.0 of Active Worlds. Started as an autonomous project of Worlds, Inc. (a spinoff of educational gamesmaker Knowledge Adventure), Active Worlds was one of the first and most ambitious attempts to create a 3D virtual community on the web. Built on the architecture of Britvich's Worlds Chat beta, Active Worlds debuted in the form of Alphaworld, a sunny green infinite plane open to public building. In its opening years Alphaworld experienced a land rush of construction, resulting in an anarchic starfish sprawl larger than the state of California. A sister company, Circle of Fire, was soon founded to craft additional themed hubs, and once individual ownership of worlds became possible the AW community spawned a veritable universe of hundreds of worlds. Although the company has seen its ups and downs since those heady times and its fortunes have slowly dwindled, the Active Worlds platform survives to this day. Look inside for a simple guide on how to log in to the (free) service, rundowns of the best worlds, links to essays analyzing the program's legacy, and other content summing up its venerable community. [more inside]
WE ARE VR. When the show VR Troopers was canceled, the cast and crew got drunk, dubbed over part of an episode and threw in some outtakes. Via the Something Awful Forums.
In 1990, the first BattleTech center opened in Chicago in the US. The centers were based around networked play of the BattleTech (related to the Battletech RPG) and Red Planet combat and racing games via immerse pods. BattleTech enthusiasts have gone so far as to purchase new and decommissioned pods to set up their own centers. Occasionally, pods go on tour.
Whereever you go, there you are: One step closer to a Holodeck (SLYT)
Build your own low-cost Virtual Reality system with only two Wiimotes and a bunch of LEDs. This article on Coding4Fun shows you how. And no, this is not another Johnny Chung Lee post.
Researchers have known for several years now that video games can distract people from pain. Now one virtual-reality game, developed for burn patients, has added a conceptual boost to this idea; the action takes place in a snowy landscape populated by penguins and snowmen. Wounded soldiers who have played the game (wearing VR goggles to help block out the sight of their burns being treated) report a reduction in pain of 30-50%. "Patients reported feeling less pain when playing Snow World, and had greater range of motion in their burnt limbs as their muscles relaxed. Less pain medication was also required, meaning patients were lucid for longer periods of time." In this video, one wounded vet talks about how the game has helped him.
Still aren't sure if the Wii is worth the wait in line? That's okay, the Wiimote is all you need for: Low-Cost Multi-point Interactive Whiteboards Using the Wiimote, Tracking Your Fingers with the Wiimote, and the latest: Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the Wii Remote (extremely cool and the easiest to implement). From the maker of the $14 steady-cam [prev. here], Johnny Chung Lee is taking Wiimote hacking to a whole new level, and giving away all necessary software and instructions for free. Wii games are about to get a whole lot cooler. [more inside]
Wii + MacBook Pro + Dome - Experiments using the Nintendo Wii as a wireless 3D interface device.
Do you know how people will fly r/c planes in the future? Canadian enthusiast Dennis (aka VRFlyer) rigs up a camera and VR googles to view the flight in real time. To complete his dream of virtual flying, he then adds a gyroscope, allowing him to control the camera's pan and tilt with head movement. Dennis explains more about his method and passion for VR flying in this RC forum.
The Smell of War -- the Institute for Creative Technologies preps Quake-happy teens to become first-person shooters in the non-virtual war on terror. Now in Odorama.
Poultry Internet!? YES! Though poultry have been known to have high levels of cognition and feeling many of us with busy lifestyles have a hard time fulfilling their needs. And some poor souls can't even be near poultry as a result of allergies. What to do? Why not a cybernetics system allowing for network-enabled remote haptic stimulation and feedback of poultry? Confused? Well, there's "The Office System where user fondles with the doll." and then that hooks up to "The pet (rooster) with pet dress." hopefully recapturing "our sense of togetherness with our animal friends, just like times gone by on the prairie, village, or jungle.". A bit of oddity brought to you by the Singapore Mixed-Reality Lab, who actually do a lot of cool stuff like AR human pacman; and they've got the videos to prove it.
Virtual Reality Tours of Seven European Churches Beautiful quicktime panoramas taken inside and outside of the churches. Navigate using maps or image hotspots. I really like the Sant' Andrea Mantova, built by Alberti between 1470 and 1476.
Virtual reality schizophrenia. Ever wonder what it may be like to experience madness? Coming soon to DVD.
Ever wanted to chat with John Lennnon? Now here's your chance! It seems Lennon is alive, well and chatting on the internet. Technology firm Triumph PC Group has developed a virtual version of the late Beatle using "sophisticated" artificial intelligence programming. As a Lennon fan I was hoping for something cool but left the site with far more questions than answers.