TED crowd gets taste of virtual reality future

Clad in virtual reality headgear and computerized vests, intrepid explorers at the annual TED event headed Wednesday into a temple adventure reminiscent of a scene from "Indiana Jones" -- and billed as a major entertainment breakthrough.

See Full Article

Attendees at the conference in Vancouver were among the first to sample a pulse-raising new breed of immersive virtual reality, pioneered by a startup from Utah called The Void.

"Think of it as a futuristic movie theatre," said Ken Bretschneider, the firm's founder and chief executive.

"When you go to a movie, you go into a screening room; in our case, you go into a virtual stage and you live the movie."

Intrepid "tedsters" entered a room in the convention centre -- transformed into the "Serpent's Eye" -- wearing virtual reality headsets and "haptic" vests that use sound and vibration to ramp up the sense of realism for explorers.

A demonstration showed that wearers imagined themselves transported to the entrance of an ancient temple, explored by solving puzzles, taking fire from a god, and even facing off with a giant serpent.

The plot once inside was carefully choreographed to play out in the room, with actual walls, chairs, torches or other touchpoints in place to match the fantasy.

In a publicity coup for the startup, a photo posted online at website roadtoVR.com showed a smiling Harrison Ford, of "Indiana Jones" fame, heading into the virtual temple adventure at TED.

Theme parks

The Void has relationships with developers and theme park operators and envisions building "experience centres" around the world, according to the chief executive.

"We can take you to a Jurassic world; to a fantasy world, to an educational experience where you go back in time and visit the Great Wall of China," Bretschneider told AFP.

The demonstration that proved a hit at TED was an early prototype.

The startup has developed a "Rapture" head-mounted display with a wide field of vision, along with the vest, tracking system, and software.

The Serpent's Eye gear also incorporated finger-tracking from San Francisco-based Leap Motion, but the Utah company was also working on a glove for that purpose.

Leap Motion specializes in using computer tracking of hands and fingers to let people manipulate objects in virtual environments with the kind of dexterity they have in the real world.

"I'm not just being shown a digital space, I am actually in a digital space," Leap Motion co-founder David Holz said last week during a demonstration of its "Orion" product, a hardware-software combination for people to interact with virtual environments using their hands.

"It is a seminal point where technology is just another material in the world; there are atoms and electrons and then bits and bytes all just one thing, and that is pretty awesome."

Hot tech trend

Virtual reality is among the top technology trends of the moment, with Facebook-owned Oculus taking pre-orders for eagerly-awaited Rift headgear and Sony poised to field a rival device that works with PlayStation video game consoles.

While video game players have been natural early targets for virtual reality, the technology is being put to use for education, medicine, sports, pornography and more.

Most virtual reality gear demonstrated thus far has immersed people in fictitious worlds as spectators or used hand-held controllers for interacting with fantasy environments.

"You need your avatar to interact with people and objects in the world," Bretschneider said.

"The technology, we feel, has reached a state that we can do this now."

A video posted on YouTube by The Void had logged more than 3.7 million views by mid-day Wednesday.

"The Void is pioneering a new form of cinematic virtual reality," said TED's Katherine McCartney.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • Nokia relaunches iconic 3310 mobile model

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Finnish brand Nokia, a former mobile star, on Sunday launched three new Android smartphones and unveiled a revamped version of its iconic 3310 model more than a decade after it was phased out. Unlike the original, which was known for its sturdiness, the new Nokia 3310 will allow web browsing. Source
  • ZTE launches world's first 5G-ready smartphone

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Chinese telecoms giant ZTE unveiled Sunday what it said is the world's first smartphone compatible with the lightening-fast 5G mobile internet service that networks expect to have up and running by 2020. The company said the Gigabit Phone is the first smartphone capable of download speeds reaching up to 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) -- up to 10 times faster than the first generation of 4G services widely in use today. Source
  • Rings in stomach could be key to telling lobsters' age

    Tech & Science CTV News
    ORONO, Maine - Researchers are testing a technique they say could determine the age of lobsters. Lobsters can live to be more than 100 years old. Their ages are typically estimated based on size, as they shed their shells and grow larger as they get older. Source
  • Sap science: Researchers say this machine is a game-changer for syrup production

    Tech & Science CTV News
    UNDERHILL, Vt. -- Maple syrup doesn't get that rich flavour and colour in an instant. It's a long process from tree to bottle. But an improved technology could keep maple sugarers from working late into the night boiling sap into syrup. Source
  • Private data leaked online by Cloudflare bug

    Tech & Science CTV News
    Internet users Friday were being urged to change all their passwords in the wake of a Cloudflare bug that could have leaked passwords, messages and more from website visits. A Cloudflare service used by millions of websites to enhance security and performance said that it had fixed the flaw quickly after being alerted a week ago by Google researcher Tavis Ormandy. Source
  • BlackBerry KEYone coming in April

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    TORONTO — If you're a fan of the BlackBerry's classic physical keyboard, you will have reason to celebrate when the last product designed in part by the former smartphone leader becomes available in April. The Waterloo, Ont. Source
  • Thorny skate will not be added to endangered species list

    Tech & Science CTV News
    PORTLAND, Maine - The federal government says the thorny skate will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Environmental groups argued that the thorny skate's decline in the northwest Atlantic Ocean was considerable enough to afford it protections set aside for endangered animals. Source
  • 'Go to sleep. The stream can wait'; Gamer who died during 24-hour marathon 'was in rough shape'

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia man who died while during a 24-hour gaming marathon appeared to be in "rough shape" before leaving for a smoke break he never returned from, a friend said. Brian Vigneault, 35, had spent about 22 hours playing the online war game World of Tanks on the streaming platform Twitch.tv. Source
  • Horizon Zero Dawn review: PS4 exclusive a perfect gaming experience

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    In Horizon Zero Dawn, there are robot animals to fight, bloodthirsty bandits to eliminate and millennium-spanning mysteries to uncover. Yet, every time I turned a corner in this lushly detailed video game world, I was sucked into some incredible new spectacle. Source
  • Finding life on 7 exoplanets will be a challenge: Bob McDonald

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The possibility of finding life on other worlds got a huge boost this week with the announcement that seven Earth-sized planets have been found around a nearby star, three of which lie within the so-called habitable zone where water, and therefore life, could exist on their surfaces. Source