Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The CAVE, Motion Controllers and the World of Virtual Reality

Last Friday I entered a CAVE and tested some of the most innovative virtual reality projects currently leading the way in the field. At the University College London a good friend is currently working at the forefront of research and development into ways we can benefit from VR, such as dentistry.

The idea behind the projects he is currently working on is that developing these very specific Virtual Environments and tweaking them will hopefully enable aspiring dentists to get hands on virtual training on technical procedures. A field in which I think you'll agree, hands on training is something very valuable.

We had a chance to test out the latest software for the CAVE and measure our sense of direction in an exercise that tested your navigational skills in differently laid out interiors. The object was to navigate from point A to point B in a variety of hallways laid out in simple patterns. For example you're standing at the southern most tip of a cross shaped hallway and you need to walk to the western most point on the cross. When you get there you need to point as accurately as possible back to the point at which you started (point A). Sounds easy, feels easy. Results prove otherwise.

We were also allowed to test their touch sensitive finger glove (not the scientific name I should add). This device enabled us to grasp and even pick up 3D objects within the virtual reality environment of the CAVE and feel their weight. That was pretty spectacular. The potential of such technology is endless and mind boggling.

In the gaming industry the Nintendo Wii was the first to really exploit motion controlled devices. A huge success, outselling Sony and Microsoft on all fronts. However the competition are now stepping up to level the playing field. Both Sony and Microsoft are introducing their own type of motion controlled device.
Where the PS3 will be complemented by the Playstation Move...





The Xbox will be accompanied by the Xbox Natal...




It will take a few more years for this technology to be as smooth and flawless as the consumer instantly demands these days but how good will it be once it is! Even more reason for kids to stay inside, refuse to make new friends, get fat and stare at a screen all day. Awesome!
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