San Francisco's Computer Museum boasts a state-of-the-art virtual reality pool program that feels so real that the tester, snooker champ Ronnie O'Sullivan, falls over after trying to lean on the VR table. Read the rest
As VR headsets and controllers become readily available it is only a matter of time before we are all wearing haptic underoos and doing VR yogas.
Now I can feel my heartbreak as I get shot down in Fortnite.
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Immersive experiences seek to engage the full sensory system in ways that words, pictures, or touch alone cannot. With respect to the haptic system, however, physical feedback has been provided primarily with handheld tactile experiences or vibration-based designs, largely ignoring both pressure receptors and the full upper-body area as conduits for expressing meaning that is consistent with sight and sound. We extend the potential for immersion along these dimensions with the Force Jacket, a novel array of pneumatically-actuated airbags and force sensors that provide precisely directed force and high frequency vibrations to the upper body. We describe the pneumatic hardware and force control algorithms, user studies to verify perception of airbag location and pressure magnitude, and subsequent studies to define full-torso, pressure and vibration-based feel effects such as punch, hug, and snake moving across the body. We also discuss the use of those effects in prototype virtual reality applications.
Singer-songwriter Chase Holfelder of Raleigh, North Carolina did something cool. He used virtual reality to perform a cover of Jamiroquai's 1996 hit "Virtual Insanity." With an HTC Vive rig, he made all the sounds and instruments needed to play the song.
He explains how he did it in this behind-the-scenes video:
EFF-Austin's Jon Lebkowsky writes: "Every year while thousands flock to a certain large festival that temporarily colonizes Austin, EFF-Austin throws a honking big geek soiree. Keynote speakers are this year are Caroline Old Coyote and Michael Running Wolf, Native American VR/AR activists who are using technology to preserve their culture and heritage. Additional speakers include EFF Investigative Researcher David Maass discussing police surveillance, government transparency, and legislation in California, former EFF-Austin president Jon Lebkowsky, Carly Rose Jackson with Texans For Voter Choice, and Vikki Goodwin, Democratic candidate for Texas House District 47. Also music by Michael Garfield, Pilgrimess, and UBA, plus custom video game consoles, lockpicking, and cosplay. " Read the rest
This Ready Player One fan, who wasn't an admirer of virtual reality, test drives the Seattle-based Haptx haptic glove. The experience converts him into a VR "believer." The Haptx glove isn't yet on the market, but according to their press release, will be available to "select customers" this year. Read the rest
Players in VRChat were surprised to see another gamer experiencing an apparent seizure in-game. The video of the incident, uploaded by YouTuber Rogue Shadow VR, is rather surreal. You see a red robot writing around on the ground, unable to communicate. Soon, the mood changes in the room and all the cartoon-y avatars come to see what is going on. When he does come to, the community, save a few bad eggs, does their best to help and comfort him.
The robot, who goes by the moniker DrunkenUnicyclist, shared with Kotaku:
“I honestly don’t remember a lot of it. I do remember feeling cold all the sudden. After that, I woke up and I was on the floor. I could hear these voices.” DrunkenUnicyclist added that he has had a seizure in the past, when he was five, although he says he doesn’t suffer from epilepsy or any other condition that might have caused this.
Participants in a VRChat room watched as the avatar of one of the participants appeared to go into a grand mal seizure, accompanied by distressed sounds audible through the voice-chat. Read the rest
In 1995, Penn and Teller released Desert Bus, the worst game ever made, a "VeriSimulator" that challenged you to keep a bus moving between the white lines on an eight-hour Arizona/Nevada drive. If you made it, you got to spend another 8 hours driving back. The bus had just enough veer in its steering that you had to correct it periodically, so you couldn't just tape the controller button down. Read the rest
Artists are creating experiences in virtual reality, and it's especially exciting to hear that multimedia pioneer Laurie Anderson has entered this space. With Taiwanese new media artist Hsin-Chien Huang, she has created "Chalkroom" (aka "La Camera Insabbiata"), an immersive virtual reality experience that lets its viewers to fly through words and stories.
Prompted by this interview with the Louisiana Museum, Open Culture writes:
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The piece allows viewers the opportunity to travel not only into the space of imagination a story creates, but into the very architecture of story itself—to walk, or rather float, through its passageways as words and letters drift by like tufts of dandelion, stars, or, as Anderson puts it, like snow. “They’re there to define the space and to show you a little bit about what it is,” says the artist in the interview above, “But they’re actually fractured languages, so it’s kind of exploded things.” She explains the “chalkroom” concept as resisting the “perfect, slick and shiny” aesthetic that characterizes most computer-generated images. “It has a certain tactility and made-by-hand kind of thing… this is gritty and drippy and filled with dust and dirt.”
Chalkroom, she says, "is a library of stories, and no one will ever find them all.” It sounds to me, at least, more intriguing than the premise of most video games, but the audience for this piece will be limited, not only to those willing to give it a chance, but to those who can experience the piece firsthand, as it were, by visiting the physical space of one of Anderson’s exhibitions and strapping on the VR goggles.
Filmmaker/writer/games developer Jim "Ghosts With Shit Jobs" Munroe (previously) has just launched his first VR venture. Manimal Sanctuary is a "lurking simulator" that "leverages low-end VR technology to enable every player’s ultimate fantasy: to play a creature part coral reef, part Cthulhu, who consumes human emotions. Set after the rest of the city is consumed by gibbering monstrosities, you eavesdrop on the survivors and their dramas involving things like bad potato crops and graffiti tags. And if those everyday emotions aren’t filling enough, you can always uncover some devastating secrets…" Read the rest
This is insane. RELEASE THE BIRDS!
KFC has given us a lot of really odd advertising, but this really something. Read the rest
German Swiss painter Arnold Böcklin reimagined "Tomb Island" over and over, pursuing both the scene's dark mystery and its runaway commercial appeal: with the title improved by a canny agent, it became the first great fantasy art wall print. And soon you'll be able to explore each of the variations in virtual reality.
There's precious little to tease the project beyond the trailer embedded above, but I always thought Tomb Island would be the perfect setting for a retro Myst-style mystery adventure game and it looks like I'm going to get exactly what I want.
Here's a 30-minute keynote that Bruce Sterling gave in 1994 to the ICA's "Towards the Aesthetics of the Future" VR conference in London. You should watch it, if only for the insight it gives into the early years of today's most contested technology questions. Read the rest
In VR, everyone can hear you scream.
(Oculus, Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, Playstation VR, Google Daydream, and other mobile VR devices)