New device to revolutionize gaming in virtual realities (w/ Video)

Sep 24, 2013
Tuncay Cakmak and the Virtualizer.

How is it possible to walk through 3D virtual realities while staying in one place? Engineers from the Vienna University of Technology have solved this problem and are now introducing their "Virtualizer".

Head-mounted devices, which display according one's viewing direction, allowing the users to lose themselves in computer generated worlds are already commercially available. However, it has not yet been possible to walk through these virtual realities, without at some point running into the very real walls of the room. A team of researchers at the Vienna University of Technology has now built a "Virtualizer", which allows for an almost natural walk through . The user is fixated with a belt in a support frame, the feet glide across a low friction surface. Sensors pick up these movements and feed the data into the computer. The team hopes that the Virtualizer will enter the market in 2014.

Digitized motion

Various ideas have been put forward on the digitalization of human motion. Markers can be attached to the body, which are then tracked with cameras – this is how for animated movies is achieved. For this, however, expensive equipment is needed, and the user is confined to a relatively small space. Prototypes using conveyor belts have not yet yielded satisfactory results.

Tuncay Cakmak, a student at TU Vienna, had a much better idea; when the feet slide across a smooth low-friction surface, almost natural walking movements are possible without in fact changing one's position. Together with some other students and virtual reality expert Hannes Kaufmann (TU Vienna), he developed the "Virtualizer".

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In the Virtualizer's metal frame, the user is kept in place with a belt. The smooth floor plate contains sensors, picking up every step. Rotations of the body are registered by the belt. "Coming to terms with the low friction takes a little bit of practice", says Tuncay Cakmak, "but soon one can run across the smooth sensor plate quite naturally."

Run, look, duck, jump

The Virtualizer can be used with standard 3D headgear, which picks up the users viewing direction and displays 3D pictures accordingly. This is independent from the leg motion, therefore running into one direction and looking into another becomes possible.

Moving through virtual realities using a keyboard or a joystick can lead to a discrepancy between visual perception and other body sensations. This is a problem for the brain: "Many people become nauseous in such situations. This is called 'cybersickness'", says Tuncay Cakmak. In the Virtualizer, however, the displayed visual data is in line with one's physical motion. The feeling of presence in the virtual world is stronger, and it becomes easier to assess distances and proportions. In addition, movement in the Virtualizer has an element of physical exercise.

Entering the market

The prototype developed at TU Vienna already works very well – only some minor adjustments are still to be made. The Virtualizer has already caused some a stir. "Some major companies have already expressed their interest – for us, however, it is important that the technological development remains in our hands", says Tuncay Cakmak.

The Virtualizer is scheduled to enter the market as soon as 2014. The price cannot be determined yet. "Our first priority is to create a high quality product, but of course we want to offer it at the lowest possible price", says Cakmak. "Our product should lead out of the research labs and into the gamers' living rooms."

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User comments : 11

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John92
5 / 5 (3) Sep 24, 2013
kinda like the Virtuix Omni
Restrider
2.3 / 5 (3) Sep 24, 2013
Just a random idea, but would not also a hollow sphere work aswell?
You would enter the sphere, say with your VR goggles, and some motion capture sensors, and when you are in the sphere, you could walk, jump, run while the sphere rotates in that direction and tracking this movement - much like a mouse tracked the movements in the days before optical mice became ubiquitous.
Since you would always be in the sphere, motion capture would also be possible.
To sum up you could track the movement of the head, the body and the limbs and also give the person inside the sphere vision, audio and the sensation of physically moving. A few tweaks and you could even simulate a shaking ground via externally moving the sphere.
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antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Sep 24, 2013
you could walk, jump, run while the sphere rotates in that direction and tracking this movement


Doing such tracking from something affixed to a rotating sphere without any external power supply is tricky. And the space requirements would also be quite a lot more than with the Virtualizer. There are a number of proptotypes for such spheres, though (just google "virtual reality sphere" or "virtusphere").
Another issue is that with a sphere you always seem to be walking up a slope (at least if the sphere is kept reasonably small. Smallest ones seem to be still too large to fit in a normal room at 3m height)
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (5) Sep 24, 2013
The real trick will be to fool your senses into thinking you are walking when you're not.
CapitalismPrevails
1 / 5 (3) Sep 24, 2013
The real trick will be to fool your senses into thinking you are walking when you're not.


Exactly, if we really want to enjoy a holographic reality, we're going to need a neural link at the brain stem just like in the Matrix. I'm not saying that's anywhere close to being remotely feasible now but just a thought.
MrVibrating
1 / 5 (1) Sep 24, 2013
...cool toy, but it can only mitigate cybersickness due to kinesthetic / visual conflict. Vestibular vs visual and proproiceptive modes will still conflict. It would need pitch, yaw and elevation hydraulics to simulate full immersion.

We're making inexorable strides towards neural integration, though one just hopes it can be achieved non-invasively.. and at any rate, what would become of the output from the user's own peripheral nervous system - would this information need to be anesthetised to prevent interference, or what? Hard do see how simulated inputs could entirely substitute the wetware to avoid all conflicts. Maybe mechanical jigs will remain the only way to achieve full immersion without sacrificing full consciousness...?
ArtVandelay
1 / 5 (7) Sep 24, 2013
These guys seriously need to get out of the house, for realizies.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (4) Sep 24, 2013
The real trick will be to fool your senses into thinking you are walking when you're not.


Exactly, if we really want to enjoy a holographic reality, we're going to need a neural link at the brain stem just like in the Matrix. I'm not saying that's anywhere close to being remotely feasible now but just a thought.
Not necessarily.

"Illusory Sensation of Movement Induced by Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation"
http://www.ploson....0013301
clay_ferguson
1.5 / 5 (8) Sep 24, 2013
And after using this for hundreds of hours children (and even adults) will develop walking disorders where they look very strange in the real world shuffling around with tiny little steps like you have to take on this surface. FAIL.
ScottyB
1 / 5 (1) Sep 26, 2013
kinda like the Virtuix Omni


Exactly the same lol
ScottyB
1 / 5 (1) Sep 26, 2013

kinda like the Virtuix Omni


In fact the Omni Move is better, it allows for a more natural gait

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