Thursday, November 1, 2007

VR Pioneer Randy Pausch gives last lecture.

Randy Pausch is one of the foremost experts on virtual reality technology. He recently gave a lecture entitled, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams." Dr. Pausch shared that unlike most of us he has achieved most of his dreams which included being in zero gravity, making video games, etc. He joked that the only goal he didn't achieve was being in the NFL. This was no ordinary lecture, a father of three and only 46-years old he was given a death sentence of a few months. Tears were wiped and two standing ovations ended Randy Pausch's last lecture. I met Randy a few years ago, he's an amazing person and easily my hero.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

VR can let you 'feel' an Out-of-body experience!

Two teams of scientists used virtual reality goggles to con the brain into thinking the body was located elsewhere. The visual illusion plus the feel of their real bodies being touched made volunteers sense that they had moved outside of their physical bodies. In the Swiss experiments, the researchers asked volunteers to stand in front of a camera while wearing video-display goggles. Through these goggles, the volunteers could see a camera view of their own back - a three-dimensional "virtual own body" that appeared to be standing in front of them. When the researchers stroked the back of the volunteer with a pen, the volunteer could see their virtual back being stroked either simultaneously or with a time lag.

The volunteers reported that the sensation seemed to be caused by the pen on their virtual back, rather than their real back, making them feel as if the virtual body was their own rather than a hologram. Researchers switched off the goggles, guided the volunteers back a few paces, and then asked them to walk back to where they had been standing, the volunteers overshot the target, returning nearer to the position of their "virtual self". Dr. Henrik Ehrsson, who led the UCL research, found volunteers had a physiological response - increased skin sweating - when they felt their virtual self was being threatened - appearing to be hit with a hammer.

What does it all mean?

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Haptic Interfaces Bring the Sense of Touch to VR.

Haptic gloves are hitting the scene again. At SIGGRAPH this year, Haptic Telexistence will be demonstrating its latest sophisticated touch interface and providing a glimpse of the huge potential for haptic interfaces. Being able to convey information through touch is a huge advantage. Equally appealing is the idea of advanced haptic technology allowing users to interact with software through a more intuitive method of physical movement. The gloves would assist the user by creating feelings of pressure or temperature as the user interacts with the software. Touch would seem to be tricky to fake, but if all of the nuances of touch, such as texture, could effectively be simulated, the immersion level of a virtual world would no doubt

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Jaron Lanier Leads Virtual Reality Panel!

At the AlwaysOn Stanford Summit 07 VR was under the miscroscope. Virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier (who ran VPL one of the first VR companies) led a panel with Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Labs (Second Life); Irving Wladawksy-Berger of IBM; Chris Sherman, CEO of Gaia Online and Chris Melissinos, chief gaming officer at Sun. The big question was whether virtual worlds would be a real business . “Meetings, learning and training may be killer apps of virtual world." said Lanier. “The money question is like asking in 1995 or 1996, how do you monetize the excitement." "Virtual worlds is the evolution of the Web,” Berger said. “Virtual worlds are critical to adoption of next generation services,” said Chris Melissinos, chief gaming officer at Sun. “This will be a multimillion dollar marketplace across the board.” Rosedale predicted that in ten years virtual world access will be more ubiquitous than Web access. Virtual worlds are spaces with 3D objects require enormous amounts of computation. “The network of machines will be larger than the Web architecture today. Rosedale also noted that content creation is also a viable virtual world business. Residents of Second Life transact more than $1 million a day, and about 40,000 residents are cash flow positive, he said. Lanier pronounced that “civility is the killer app of virtual worlds.” Rosedale added that virtual worlds are appealing for the future for humanity because they have the potential to bring a more balanced offense and defense, whereas the real world moves people closer to a larger radius of damage…like wars. Lanier concluded the panel predicting that in 25 years the technology will be so good there will be no IBM or manufacturing jobs and that buying and selling goods in the virtual world will save civilization. Nice to see VR being talked about.. it's coming is inevitable!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Walk Through VR with the Virtusphere!

Break through into immersive Virtual Reality with VirtuSphere™. The unique simulation platform that allows lifelike movements in cyberspace.
6 degrees of freedom – move in any direction. Walk, crawl, run over virtually unlimited distances.
VirtuSphere can be compatible with all computer based simulations. It is versatile. I've actually tried this, seems like it takes getting used to but its a step in the right direction for physical freedom in virtual environment.

Astronaut Helmet Gives 360 Degrees of Immersion!

Granted this headset looks pretty ridiculous, it's for real though. Toshiba is working on this "Wearable Home Theater." This helmet weighs in at 2.7 kilograms, but Toshiba says it was designed to be worn comfortably. It gives players a full 360 experience and head movement correspond with screen movements. Looks aside, this unit likely has a great deal of immersion.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

TD VIsor - 720p HD HMD coming in September

TDVision Systems, used the Las Vegas CES show to introduce a new 3-D system that uses a high-definition camera called the TDVCam. The technology allows images to be recorded simultaneously for both 3-D and 2-D viewers.
The TDVCam captures a 2-D stereoscopic video stream and then converts it to allow 3-D viewing on any 2-D platform. Viewers purchasing the TDVisor, a set of $500 3-D goggles with built-in standard-definition video screens and decoders, can view the 2-D images as a 3-D signal. The camera’s 2-D signal operates as usual and can be viewed in any 2-D monitor. HD versions of the goggles, weighing six ounces, are available in 800 x 600, 1024 x 768 and 1280 x 720 resolutions. A viewer using TDVisor goggles can adjust the interocular distance (distance between the eyes). The optics allow an equivalent screen size of 72-inches diagonal at 10-feet for the 800 x 600 version and 108-inches at 10-feet for the HD version.
The company said it's initially focused on gaming and digital imaging but are working with broadcasters and cable networks to create and deliver 3-D high definition in the near future. "TDVision can easily add the encoding technology to other cameras because it does not involve optics," said Manuel Gutierrez, TDVision Systems CTO and chairman. This camera seems promising considering the jump to 1024x768 resolution.. the recent emagin hadset had 800x600. The FoV(Field of View) seems to be better as well but where are the HMD's with 180 degrees FOV?! Only when that comes will VR really catch on, at least for entertainment.