Archive for October, 2011


The Road to Virtual Reality Will Not Be Walked Without Opposition

If you thought we were going to make our way toward immersive VR without naysayers, I’m here today to tell you that you’re unfortunately wrong.

There will always be people who are afraid of change and afraid of technology. Usually, they are hypocrites. They cry “video games are bad”, or “smartphones are ruining out society”, but they fail to acknowledge that this anti-technology approach goes against their living inside of a house, using a microwave oven, driving a car, etc.

In this same manner, you’ll find people that will believe that virtual reality is an evil thing. They’ll tell you that virtual reality ruins someone’s connection with the real world and real people, but they’ll never ask themselves whether or not that’s a bad thing.

Just this last week, the New York Times ran an article (published online and in print) about Sony’s upcoming HMZ-T1 3D head mounted display. Like any good hard-news writer, the author included an ‘opposing view’ at the end of the article. This opposing view came in the form of some snippets from Sherry Turkle, an MIT professor and author of the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. I haven’t read Turkle’s book and want to make it clear that I won’t include her in the category of ‘hypocrites’ (that I mentioned above) before doing so. However, the way that her quotes have been used in the article from the Times certainly tries to peg her as an anti-technologist:

Continue reading ‘The Road to Virtual Reality Will Not Be Walked Without Opposition’


Battlefield 3 Virtual Reality Simulator Episode from The Gadget Show Now Available Online! [video]

As I posted the other week, The Gadget Show put together an awesome Battlefield 3 virtual reality simulator which would be featured on their show. The only video we got initially was a teaser, and unless you live in Britain, you probably wouldn’t have access to the episode as it aired. Fortunately, The Gadget Show has posted the portion of the episode featuring the virtual reality Battlefield 3 rig to YouTube for us all to enjoy!

The episode gives a good amount of detail on the concepting and building process for the virtual reality simulator which is excellent for our purposes. I was curious to know how they were going to be tracking the player for the omni-directional treadmill and it was revealed that they were using 10 infrared sensors to accomplish this.

When the host ran through the level with the rig, he mentioned it being rather surreal and very immersive. I can only imagine that the paintball guns added an element of fear which would make one much more conscious of running out into the open. Adding real life consequences to in-game actions is a great way to enhance the intensity and immersion of a game (though some might find bruising paintball guns to be a bit harsh).

The host said he was so immersed that he actually tried to reach his hand out to drag his wounded virtual soldier away, and I’m very curious to know if this was his genuine knee-jerk reaction, or if it was just a bit of flourish for the show. Check out the full section of the show feature the Battlefield 3 virtual reality simulator right here. Do you think he was serious or just putting on an act?

Continue reading ‘Battlefield 3 Virtual Reality Simulator Episode from The Gadget Show Now Available Online! ‘


Battlefield 3 Played in a Virtual Reality Simulator [video]

Battlefield 3 is set to be one of the biggest games of the 2011 season thanks to its impressively life-like graphics and sound-design. I can tell you from experience, the Battlefield games have had some of the best sound design in the industry. Hooked up to the appropriate audio setup, you will feel like you’ve got your feet on the ground in the midst of an actual battle. Terrifying, and incredibly fun, but virtual reality it is not.

Remember when I told you the other day how awesome Battlefield 3 would be if it were hooked up with a VR rig? Well it looks like that wish is now reality.

Continue reading ‘Battlefield 3 Played in a Virtual Reality Simulator ‘


The World’s Best Virtual Reality — Your Brain on VR, and the Exciting World of Brain-Computer Interfacing

The abilities of the brain are absolutely amazing. Even before the idea of virtual reality was conceived, the brain has provided us a way to experience things that seem entirely real but are entirely fake. I’m speaking of dreams of course. Because our experiences are merely interpretations of input from various nerves, it couldn’t be easier for the brain to essentially simulate these inputs to give us experiences that are independent of our external reality.

To some extent, we can simulate and control these experiences consciously. It isn’t hard to think of a frightening situation, or a terrifying movie, and feel afraid. Nor is it difficult to recall someone lost but loved, and feel sad. Emotions don’t seem too hard for us, but physical sensations are tough to insight consciously. For instance, it is hard to give yourself the sensation of falling or flying, or to feel like you’re hotter or colder than you really are. Still, it’s not impossible. A brief survey of meditation techniques will show you that some people can tap into their mind’s own ability to create a false reality.

Many people have occurences of something called Lucid Dreaming in which they are able to take control of their dreams, and make conscious decisions within them. I’m able to lucid dream from time to time, and often my favorite thing to do is to fly or sky dive. To my surprise, my mind properly simulates the feeling of excitement/adrenaline/falling that one would associate with flying through the sky. The mind is arguably capable of being the world’s best virtual reality system; so how do we tap into it?

Continue reading ‘The World’s Best Virtual Reality — Your Brain on VR, and the Exciting World of Brain-Computer Interfacing’


Sony HMZ-T1 Photo Gallery and Full Specs. Does it look Stupid, or Awesome? I Can’t Decide.

I can’t quite decide whether or not I think Sony’s HMZ-T1 HMD looks really cool, or really stupid. They’re certainly trying to get make it look futuristic, but the problem with “modern” design is that it is the quickest to become “retro” just a few years down the road. In 5 years when we look back at the HMZ-T1, I’m willing to be we’ll think that it looks silly.

A futuristic looking design is almost assuredly going to have a polarizing effect on people; it will be loved and hated, and few people will likely fall somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I’ve gathered up the highest quality photos of the HMZ-T1 that I could find so you can decide for yourself. I also found two shots of the HDMI pass-through-box which comes with the HMZ-T1 but has remained quite elusive up to this point. Also note that the cable that runs to the HMZ-T1 is almost always understated (or completely removed) in these photos, so don’t forget that you’ll have a wire dangling from the headset while its in use. And one more thing before I drop the gallery for your perusal — notice how all of the controls have been hidden on the underside of the HMD:

Continue reading ‘Sony HMZ-T1 Photo Gallery and Full Specs. Does it look Stupid, or Awesome? I Can’t Decide.’


Sony’s HMZ-T1 Head Mounted Display Launching Early in the US?

The HMZ-T1 head mounted display from Sony is supposed to be launched, according to Sony Japan, on 11/11/11, alongside another much anticipated product. Although most marketing materials that we’ve seen have agree with this 11/11/11 date, it seems that US gamers and display hobbiests in the US will be able to get their hands on the futuristic looking HMZ-T1 more than two weeks early.

According to the device’s product page at, which is accepting US pre-orders for the HMD, the HMZ-T1 (aka “personal 3D viewer”) will become available “on or about 10/26/2011, a full 16 days prior to the Japanese release date.

Continue reading ‘Sony’s HMZ-T1 Head Mounted Display Launching Early in the US?’


Augmented Reality Will Soon Be Convincingly Modifying Your World

Augmented reality is, at the moment, the novel concept of being able to superimpose something virtual onto your existing world. We’ve seen some neat, but ultimately useless, informational overlay applications from augmented reality, but nothing quite useful yet. Many of the alternate reality applications that you’ll find on phones today do little more than use the accelerometer/gyro/mangnometer/GPS data in your phone to adjust the informational overlay on your screen as you move and tilt. More advanced concepts use special tags to help track a particular place and then superimpose something virtual on that location.

Thanks to some incredibly smart work happening in the augmented reality field, AR is about to become a practical part of your life. You’re about to see how, using no sensors except for a camera, alternate reality will soon have the necessary performance for some actually useful (and admittedly, really cool) implementations.

Continue reading ‘Augmented Reality Will Soon Be Convincingly Modifying Your World’

%d bloggers like this: