Virtusphere is close to finalising a 'Virtual Game Controller' which will allow 3D games to be explored using the human hamster ball without modifications.
As we continue to explore how people will navigate virtual environments, we speak to Allan Latypov, CEO of Virtusphere - a company who spent 15 years developing a 10 foot diameter hollow ball which allows a single user to walk in all directions on one spot.
There are 3 main types of Virtusphere configurations: Basic Sphere, Play station and Simulator.
The Base Sphere includes the mechanical components only. That is the Sphere, wheeled platform and Rolling Bar. This configuration is designed for developers and vendors of electronic equipment for virtual reality.
The Virtusphere Play station adds a computer, HMD, sensors, button manipulator and 2 sample applications. This is designed for companies working in the entertainment and advertisement markets, 3D application developers, universities and museums.
At the top end is the Virtusphere Simulator which includes a ruggedised Basic Sphere suitable for research institutions and organisations engaged in training of hazardous occupation specialists.
For content, several graphics engines are compatible including CryEngine3, Quake4, Second Life and Unity3D.
With a price tag of from $28,000, can it compete with lower cost solutions such as the WizDish and Omni by Virtuix? We talk to CEO Allan Latypov…
3D Focus: It looks large and expensive – is this designed specifically for professional use?
Allan Latypov: The diameter of the Virtusphere is 10 feet and it can be used indoor and outdoor. Virtusphere is designed as simulator for professional training and as Play station for gaming.
3D Focus: Does the Virtusphere require a lot of practice to operate? If you walked fast and suddenly stopped, what would prevent inertia making the sphere continue to rotate? In the video below, the presenter says stopping is trickier than running.
Allan Latypov: Virtusphere is the natural interface where the user moves like in real life. And as in real life, a running person may not stop immediately; he or she must make some ‘slow down’ steps. Of course, easy walking in Virtusphere needs a little practice. For novice users we created the Rolling Bar that helps keep balance. You can see how it works in this video.
3D Focus: What HMDs have you tried and have you worked with the Oculus Rift?
Allan Latypov: We have used I-glasses, eMagin and nVisor. Now we use the Sony HMZ in wired and wireless modes as well. Wireless HDMI devices help us to use HMDs wirelessly. Of course, we will test Oculus Rift with Virtusphere as soon as we will have it.
3D Focus: Can Virtusphere work with any computer game and have you purpose built applications?
Allan Latypov: Potentially Virtusphere allows a user to walk within any 3D space. We used VRPN open source software for adaptation of existing 3D applications to Virtusphere. Now we are close to finalising the development of the Virtual Game Controller that allows for Virtusphere users get completely immersed in most 3D games without special modifications.
3D Focus: Do you have to wear special shoes?
Allan Latypov: The Virtusphere user can wear any shoes except for high heels!
3D Focus: Who have you been speaking to and what deals can you announce where the Virtusphere has been utilised?
Allan Latypov: Virtusphere was bought by the West Point and several military bases for simulation training. A few universities use it for research purposes and some companies use Virtusphere in the entertainment sector. We have sold Virtuspheres to Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey and other countries.
3D Focus: How are the military using this?
Allan Latypov: Virtusphere is good simulation platform for Military, counter-terrorism units, police, firefighters, security, operators of nuclear power plants and petrochemical plants for safely training and development of practical skills required for dangerous environments.
3D Focus: Do you think that the Oculus Rift will get virtual reality into the mainstream?
Allan Latypov: Yes, we think so, but the Oculus Rift still does not solve the problem of movement in virtual space.
3D Focus: How is this being used at Excalibur casino?
Allan Latypov: Our partners used Virtusphere for serve of casino visitors. But, unfortunately they are out of business because of the high rents in the casino.
3D Focus: If its $28,000 – what extra are you getting compared to the WizDish and Omni by Virtuix?
Allan Latypov: This of course is more expensive than the price which will be sold the WizDish and Omni by Virtuix. This is simple devices and they partly solve the problem of walking in virtual space. Perhaps they will find their niche in the consumer market.
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