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360 degree virtual reality platform Project Holodeck will be showcased during the GAME: NEXT gaming conference in Ireland next month.
The GAME: NEXT conference is a four day showcase of the latest gaming technology and European delegates will get the chance to experience the fully immersive gaming platform Project Holodeck for the first time.
A joint venture between the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering and the School of Cinematic Arts, the futuristic experience is a virtual reality platform built with a combination of DIY off-the-shelf components, custom software, and creatively integrated peripherals. The goal is to offer a 360 degree, six degrees of freedom full body experience for consumers.
To locate the person in space, the Holodeck system uses head tracking and body tracking. For head-tracking, a Playstation Move system is deployed to supply viewpoint data. To track the gamer’s body, a Razer Hydra magnetic system is used.
Stereoscopic visuals are courtesy of an Oculus Rift unit. Palmer Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift, is also the Lead Hardware Engineer of Project Holodeck, and visitors to the GAME: NEXT conference will see how the Oculus Rift fits into the Project Holodeck experience.
Gamers can move through a virtual environment via a technique called in-place locomotion – for example, jogging in one place to simulate running, so large spaces are not required. A Playstation Eye tracks the user’s hands, whilst holding a Playstation Move Wand and, for a physical sensation, strategically placed box fans are linked to the game server using an Arduino controller, allowing gamers to actually feel the wind in their hair as they pilot a vehicle for example.
The first game being developed for the Unity3D based system is called Wild Skies, a sky pirate themed game where two players must work together to pilot a unique nuclear powered airship through an exotic world of floating islands. The bodies of each player are mapped directly to a large 3D playspace and they will interact with the world using a combination of simple gestures and button presses. They will both be able to interact with each other – seeing each other’s avatars in space, even with lip syncing and blinking. Project Holodeck Producer James Iliff tells 3D Focus that the team have made ‘tons of progress’ on Wild Skies since the first announcement.
Project Holodeck Director Nathan Burba says: “We want to create the world’s first virtual reality video game, something that will completely change the face of gaming.” When ready, Burba and Iliff hope to launch a Kickstarter campaign, no doubt hoping to replicate the success of their Oculus Rift partners. With NBC News calling it a project “well worth keeping a close eye on,” one can easily expect large interest.
Both Nathan Burba and James Iliff will be presenting Project Holodeck in Dublin with a special launch event at 6pm on December 18th. This will follow a showcase at USC in Los Angeles on Dec 12th.
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For more details about Project Holodeck: www.projectholodeck.com
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