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

  • Tips on how to protect yourself online

    Tech & Science CTV News
    The case of an Ontario man who allegedly earned hundreds of thousands of dollars by peddling massive troves of personal information obtained on the so-called dark web is a sobering reminder of the scale of online threats Canadians face every day. Source
  • B.C. man charged in alleged 'spambot' attack on video streaming platform

    Tech & Science CTV News
    COQUITLAM, B.C. -- A British Columbia man has been charged with mischief after a U.S.-based social media platform was allegedly flooded with thousands of spam messages, effectively shutting down many of its channels. Brandan Lukus Apple of Coquitlam was charged Dec. Source
  • Canadian study finds seagulls eating drywall, metal among other garbage

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Gulls at landfills are so common that their stomach contents are sometimes used to monitor plastic in the environment. But plastic, research has found, is just the start. "It was also aluminum, drywall, wax paper," said Sahar Seif, an undergraduate at Ottawa's Carleton University, who is the lead author of a recently published paper. Source
  • Don't blame the rats: Human fleas and lice likely spread Black Death

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The Black Death, which killed thousands throughout Europe in a pandemic stretching from the 14th to 19th centuries, was likely spread by parasites such as fleas and lice carried on the human body. While rats have long been blamed for spreading the fatal disease throughout Europe, researchers at the University of Oslo in Norway and the University of Ferrara in Italy now believe humans and their parasites were the biggest carriers. Source
  • From drywall to metal: Study finds gulls tough enough for landfill diet

    Tech & Science CTV News
    OTTAWA - Gulls at landfills are so common that their stomach contents are sometimes use to monitor plastic in the environment. But research out of Carleton University in Ottawa has found that plastic is just the start. Source
  • Floor sensors rise as retail data source

    Tech & Science CTV News
    MILWAUKEE -- The next phase in data collection is right under your feet. Online clicks give retailers valuable insight into consumer behaviour, but what can they learn from footsteps? It's a question Milwaukee-based startup Scanalytics is helping businesses explore with floor sensors that track people's movements. Source
  • World's fifth largest diamond discovered in Lesotho

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A diamond thought to be the fifth largest of gem quality ever found has been discovered in Lesotho, miner Gem Diamonds said Monday, and could be worth as much as US$40 million. The company unearthed the D-colour stone at the Letseng mine in the landlocked southern African country and described the 910-carat find as of "exceptional quality". Source
  • Rent-a-goalie: Beer league hockey app connects teams with 'tenders

    Tech & Science CTV News
    A new app is solving an age-old problem in beer leagues across the country, by allowing hockey teams to hire a last-minute goalie to backstop them to victory – or at least, competitiveness. Former goalie Brennan Bleile, of Calgary, designed the app to address a common problem in adult leagues, where a dearth of goaltenders often leaves anyone with the right pads in high demand. Source
  • Sask. moves to nip invasive insect threat to ash trees in bud

    Tech & Science CTV News
    REGINA -- Saskatchewan is taking steps to try to halt the spread of an insect pest that poses a major threat to ash trees in Manitoba. The emerald ash borer -- originally from China -- was detected in Winnipeg last year but hasn't gone any farther. Source
  • Segway Loomo: personal robot meets hoverboard

    Tech & Science CTV News
    What looked like a gimmick at CES 2016 has now turned into one of the most talked-about robots at CES 2018. Presented by Segway, this two-wheeled ride-on is so much more than just a hoverboard, it's Loomo, an on-the-go companion that can take you or your groceries for a ride. Source