How virtual reality overcame its ‘puke problem’

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For years, VR devices caused motion sickness – known as the “barfogenic zone”. Have engineers finally solved it, asks Colin Barras, or just replaced it with a different kind of queasiness?

Back in the early 1990s, virtual reality was poised to revolutionise gaming. Games giant Sega, makers of the hugely popular Genesis console, had just unveiled the Sega VR project. At the project’s core lay a headset that coupled state-of-the-art graphics with movement tracking software to immerse gamers in a rich and vibrant virtual world. At least, that was the plan.

The reality of Sega’s virtual reality fell some way short. The biggest problem was that the onscreen graphics didn’t keep pace with the gamer’s head movements, triggering a form of motion sickness. Thomas Piantanida, then principal scientist of SRI International’s Virtual Perception Program, test drove a prototype in 1993 and came up with a name for the vomit-inducing phenomenon. The headset’s graphical output, he said, lay in the “barfogenic zone”. By 1994, Sega had quietly shelved the project.

Virtual reality is back in the news this week, as Facebook has just forked out $2 billion for Oculus VR. The social media giant is betting that immersive virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people’s everyday life, which raises the question of whether the technology has managed to escape the barfogenic zone during the last 20 years.

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Google used photogrammetry to create a detailed VR tour of Versailles

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It’s the largest photogrammetry capture ever done on the site.

Versailles palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, but fighting those crowds in person can be frustrating. Now, Google and the Château de Versailles have teamed up to take VR users on a private tour of Louis XIV’s royal residence. It’s the largest photogrammetry project ever done at the castle, with 21 rooms and 387,500 square feet of internal surfaces captured. HTC Vive and Oculus Rift users can handle and inspect over 100 sculptures, paintings and other works of art and see them with incredible close-up detail.

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Watch Amazon’s VR kiosks transform the future of shopping

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Amazon’s new VR store dispenses with the trappings of a shop in favor of fun — a city full of products to explore in themed rooms.

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Earlier this week, Amazon announced that it has opened virtual reality kiosks in 10 shopping malls to promote its upcoming Prime Day shopping event. Now you can see the Amazon VR experience for yourself. Prepare to be impressed: It’s significantly more elaborate than expected, and shows how a top retailer is transforming the future of shopping.

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Neuroreality: the New reality is coming. And it’s a brain computer interface

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With the release of the Oculus Rift in March 2016, the age of virtual reality (VR) truly began. VR tech had been generating buzz since the 1990s, but the Rift was the first high-end VR system to reach the consumer market, and early reviews confirmed that it delivered the kind of experience users had been hoping for.

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Awesome new virtual reality theme park

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Oculus Rift virtual-reality headsets may be ready to ship to the general public in early 2016, and could be the beginning of VR technology taking off.  Adding to that, a Utah man is building a series of seven 60×60-foot rooms in which players will wear VR headsets and wander around immersive worlds, wielding powers that would even impress Neo from “The Matrix” films.   Continue reading… “Awesome new virtual reality theme park”

Feelreal VR Mask adds Smell-O-Vision to virtual reality

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Feelreal VR Mask

The Feelreal VR Mask is going to make the world of virtual reality a little more real and smelly.  The mask attaches to the bottom of headsets like the Oculus Rift and adds other sensory experiences, like hot and cold air, water mist, and smells. Feelreal is also making a helmet, called Nirvana, which can fit the VR Mask and a smartphone. Both projects seek funding together on Feelreal’s Kickstarter, which is looking for $50,000.

 

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