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Walking In A VR Future 371

neol'schmoe writes "There's a new solution to the age old problem of physical movement within a virtual world. Researchers in Japan have come up with tiles that move in concert with a user's pace and motion to allow free range of motion while literally walking in a virtual environment and never leaving a very small area in the real world."
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Walking In A VR Future

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  • And... (Score:5, Funny)

    by N0decam ( 630188 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:50PM (#9941230) Homepage
    Holodeck jokes in 5...4...3...2...1...
  • by grunt107 ( 739510 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:50PM (#9941231)
    Does it come with a 'sticky-spot' mod to simulate chewed gum on sidewalk?
  • About Time (Score:3, Informative)

    by rkrabath ( 742391 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:50PM (#9941232) Journal
    Looks cool, but i can't wait to try it out. Todays VR gets you disoriented because your mind sees movement but knows that your body isn't moving. This at least lets your body move, even if you're not actually traveling...
  • by udowish ( 804631 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:51PM (#9941244) Journal
    Hum, looks like Holodecks are just around the corner! mmmmmm holo babes and beeeer!
  • Pretty Cool (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cephyn ( 461066 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:51PM (#9941246) Homepage
    I didn't even realize people were working on VR still. Are the graphics getting better too? Id assume so. This thing looks like a really nifty fun invention. Of course, I'm wary since practical applications are the ubiquitous "5 years" away. Hopefully unpractical applications come sooner...I can see VR-DDR now with shifting tiles for people to dance on...
    • Re:Pretty Cool (Score:3, Interesting)

      how long before you go into an Arcade and you rent a VR helmet and you plug it into the different games.

      Just think about a VR helmet that can actually do 1280x1024 by true color and combine that with 3 generations after the Doom3 or HL2 engine...
      • VR Doom3 is easy. Close your eyes and have someone else jump up behind you and say boo.
      • Re:Pretty Cool (Score:5, Informative)

        by mikael ( 484 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @04:19PM (#9942594)
        This was tried around 15 years ago by Virtuality. But back then, the helmets were absolutely massive [uiuc.edu], with a mini CRT monitors for each eye. At the companies peak, there were Virtuality booths close to every Underground station in central London. You could pay around 7 pounds for 20 minutes play. Although the games were simple, they were fun. One game was a first-person shooter, where you tried to shoot flying pterodactyls while trying to avoid being snatched or shooting other players.

        Atari and the other console makers also jumped onto the VR bandwagon [maedicke.de], even though the headsets were much lighter [roarvgm.com] (later versions of the Virtuality helmet.

        Obviously, you could do the same thing today, with consumer VR hardware, but the problem is cost. Consumers are more aware of the cost of playing in an arcade vs. playing at home. If the average game plays for one unit of currency for three minutes, and one person wants to play for three hours, thats 120 units of currency. For three months play, that amount of money would allow you to buy buy a PC + VR headset + broadband. Plus with headsets being as small and light as they are, they would very easily be stolen/broken. And that's not taking into account having to pay for parking, expensive drinks/snacks, worry about your belongings being stolen, your car being broken into, being mugged on the way home, or spend time finding a parking space.
    • by loteck ( 533317 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:58PM (#9941925) Homepage
      Just think, one day you can install a room in your super-computer-enabled house that will allow your children to imagine virtual adventures that they can play out, without ever leaving the house!

      Would be a parent's dream!

      Just hope your kids like you and don't enjoy the company of ravenous lions! :D

  • by ryane67 ( 768994 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:51PM (#9941247)
    getting exercise while gaming would be nice for once... but It sure would suck when you try to roll/duck behind something in a FPS and you fall off the tiles and bust your ankle.. There's no way they can predict and keep up that well.
    • by Ced_Ex ( 789138 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:17PM (#9941503)
      Umm... isn't that just called "sports"???

      Football, hockey, soccer... that's all "exercise while gaming"

      Nothing new
  • Can it handle running, as if from a dragon?!?!?!
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:52PM (#9941257) Journal
    Is it?

    Those japanese are always inventing stuff like this. I guess they got no square footage.

    My American answer is to put your VR goggles on in the middle of one of our spacious fields or parks, and just run around all you want.

    Drop someone in the middle of the desert with his LCD goggles and mo-cap mittens and he can VR his brains out.
  • by Jaywalk ( 94910 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:52PM (#9941258) Homepage
    There's a new solution to the age old problem of physical movement within a virtual world.
    IIRC it's not exactly new, Star Trek uses something like it to explain holodeck movement, although there's the usual handwaving about "force fields" instead of moving tiles. But the real issue is going to be nausea. The problem occurs both in VR situations and in more prosaic settings like motion sickness. If what your eyes tell you (you're moving) is out of sync with what your inner ear tells you (you're not moving) a lot of people get nauseous and toss their cookies. That's why folks who get car sick are okay if they keep looking out the window; their eyes tell them that they're moving, so it's in sync with their inner ear.

    Could definitely be a downer if you're the next in line for that arcade game.

    • Do people get motion sick on treadmills? Because this would solve the motion sickness problem. Youre eyes tell you youre moving (thats the VR job) and your feet are moving, your balance is shifting, your inner ear should be happy. As long as the VR accurately models what you're actually doing, it should work.
      • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:07PM (#9941415) Journal
        Do people get motion sick on treadmills?

        Yes, they do. If you go to the gym long enough, you'll see someone get dizzy or nausious and fall right off 'em.

        They even have lil warning labels advising people with inner ear problems to stay off.

        I wouldn't expect the average slashdotter has seen a treadmill in actual use.
        • by the_mad_poster ( 640772 ) <shattoc@adelphia.com> on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:15PM (#9941485) Homepage Journal

          That's because Slashdotters are smarter than the average gym user and won't pay $75 a month to walk on a moving belt when they can just go out the front door.

          • Thanks for proving that slashdotters have never even seen a gym.

            I pay 20 bucks a month for access to probably over 200,000 in equipment. The treadmill is only used as a warmup, or elliptical machine or stationary bike if you prefer. Once your heartrate is up, you hit the circuit training.

            In the summer, I have full access to the outdoor olympic sized pool, which I've never seen more than 10 people in at a time. And they're usually women, and usually in really nice shape. It's a really cool pool area, t
          • they can just go out the front door.

            Just be cause we are able to, doesn't mean we will.

            I've joined the gym maybe three times in my life, and only once managed to keep going for more than a few months... and the only reason for that was the guy who took the classes was a fucking clown who kept doing monty python impressions.

            But... yeah.. treadmills are boring as bat shit.

    • by Enry ( 630 ) <[enry] [at] [wayga.net]> on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:02PM (#9941355) Journal
      If what your eyes tell you (you're moving) is out of sync with what your inner ear tells you (you're not moving) a lot of people get nauseous and toss their cookies.

      But you *are* moving. It just happens that your movement is cancelled out by the floor. So things like head bob will still happen, but it's because your head is really bobbing as you walk.
      • But there's no proper horizontal acceleration. That would be the problem.
      • But you *are* moving. It just happens that your movement is cancelled out by the floor.

        It's not your velocity that causes motion sickness, it's the acceleration. The floor only "cancels" your relative velocity, as your frame of reference is moving with you; but not the acceleration, which you sense relative to a inertial frame of reference, which is essentially stationary.

    • by JavaLord ( 680960 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:03PM (#9941368) Journal
      ut the real issue is going to be nausea. The problem occurs both in VR situations and in more prosaic settings like motion sickness. If what your eyes tell you (you're moving) is out of sync with what your inner ear tells you (you're not moving) a lot of people get nauseous and toss their cookies.

      I suffer from this very badly. I couldn't play the early Doom or Quake games. I tried out a VR game at Great Adventure around 1995/1996 and it made me horribly sick and dizzy.

      The strange part is, I couldn't play FPS games without getting tired/dizzy up until around 1999. I was stuck at home after sugery and doped up on painkillers I played FPS games all weekend. For some reason I have no problems with certain games after that(unreal tournament) while others still give me the dizzy sickness. (almost any console FPS). Bracelets and Nausea pills don't do anything for it. :/

      Is there a way to train your inner ear/eyes to not get sick if you play enough? Or is it that higher frame rates help? Ugg
      • Yes, get good at the game.

        No, really. Then your expected perception of movement is in line with your percieved movement.

        Once you pass a certain point on the learning curve (like you did while all doped up that weekend), no problem.

        I'd guess the reason some games work for you and others don't has to do with field of view, height of the camera off the ground, or some other perceptual detail that doesn't fit in to your current mental model of what an FPS is supposed to feel like.

      • I suffer from this very badly. I couldn't play the early Doom or Quake games. I tried out a VR game at Great Adventure around 1995/1996 and it made me horribly sick and dizzy.

        For me, I recently pulled out my old Doom WADs when the Doomsday (aka jDoom) engine was ported to Linux. And after about 20 minutes of insane play, I had to go outside and recover from severe nausea.

        Now, the original Wolfenstein used to give me major problems but Doom wasn't an issue. So I poked around the options and discovered a

    • If what your eyes tell you (you're moving) is out of sync with what your inner ear tells you (you're not moving) a lot of people get nauseous and toss their cookies. That's why folks who get car sick are okay if they keep looking out the window; their eyes tell them that they're moving, so it's in sync with their inner ear.

      That is complete and utter baloney. Ask anyone who suffers regularly from motion sickness to ride a Tilt-A-Whirl but keep their eyes closed. They will *still* end up dizzy and sick.
      • Ask anyone who suffers regularly from motion sickness to ride a Tilt-A-Whirl but keep their eyes closed. They will *still* end up dizzy and sick.

        That statement is in direct agreement with what you quoted from the previous poster:

        If what your eyes tell you (you're moving) is out of sync with what your inner ear tells you (you're not moving) a lot of people get nauseous and toss their cookies.

        In this case, your eyes (closed) tell you that you're not moving, but your inner ear tells you that you are moving

    • Your ear detects ACCELERATION, not velocity... so if you're walking on the tiles, it will (roughly speaking) still experience the same up-down and swaying that you'd experience while walking on real ground, won't it?

      Basically, aside from the initial acceleration of starting to walk, won't this feel the same as "really" walking?

      On the other hand, I could certainly see how frequent changes in direction or velocity would confuse your ear, in which case I see your point.
    • by CanSpice ( 300894 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:35PM (#9942219) Homepage
      IIRC it's not exactly new, Star Trek uses something like it to explain holodeck movement

      Here's a tip: Star Trek isn't real.
  • What?? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:54PM (#9941275)
    I think most of us would agree that 'age old problem of physical movement within a virtual world' has absolutely nothing to do with walking. Its waaaaay more rythmic and horizontal than ambulatory.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:55PM (#9941290) Homepage Journal
    The floor moves in the opposite direction from the user so that the motion of each step is canceled and the user's position remains fixed in the real world.

    I like to call it a "treadmill". Sounds much better than "shifty tiles" IMHO.

  • pretty cool (Score:3, Funny)

    by jford235 ( 677581 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:55PM (#9941295)
    but its gonna suck the 1st time it breaks in mid-stride and sends you crashing into your rendering farm for the VR.
  • Momentum (Score:2, Insightful)

    by emeitner ( 513842 )
    Ok, how do they plan on simulating momentum? Try running at full gallop and then stopping dead. Its pretty hard to do in reality. It would be easy on a treadmill that responds in the same way as the tiles above. The act of walking without the feedback that we feel from our momentum might be a little disorienting.
    • Wouldn't the tiles have some sort of momentum? Unless they're breaking some laws of physics, they should.
    • Ok, how do they plan on simulating momentum? Try running at full gallop and then stopping dead. Its pretty hard to do in reality. It would be easy on a treadmill that responds in the same way as the tiles above. The act of walking without the feedback that we feel from our momentum might be a little disorienting.

      I disagree. If you are running at speed on a treadmill, and stop suddenly, you will fall over in exactly the same way as if you had been running on solid ground. Momentum is relative, and all th

    • Re:Momentum (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Meostro ( 788797 ) *
      It would appear that their simulation works the other way around, instead of moving the floor to make you feel like you're moving, they let you move and compensate for yor position with the floor.

      The equivalent would be a treadmill that reacts to your position, moving you backward when your foot approaches the front. If you're running, it would have to predict where you're going and put a tile there (whilst simultaneously moving your current tile in the opposite direction). If you stop abruptly, you wou
  • Finally, FPS games will require moving around physically... I can see the game contestants' average weight declining rapidly as this device picks up support for Doom 3, etc.
    "I'm on the VR FPS diet! I just run around and pretend to shoot people for 8 hours a day."
  • Video? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kiriwas ( 627289 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:57PM (#9941311) Homepage
    This really seems like the sort of technology you'd want to show video of. Is the motion smooth, if you make a quick step forward then back will you fall as it keeps trying to move forward? These are the things I'd like to know. This is an awesome technology (if it works) and could be of great use to us where I work. We're currently working with omni-directional treadmills... which leave a lot to be desires as well as make noise that sounds like a jet engine.
  • Why tiles? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Can someone explain or theorize about why they use tiles instead of a uniform treadmill-like surface that can scroll on two axes?
    • Re:Why tiles? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MickWest ( 661110 )
      Because it's hard to make a treadmill wrap around infinitely in two directions. What you areally need is a 30 foot diameter sphere set in the floor. Think of a giant trackball, with you stood on top, and the contact rollers below being motorized to drive it. Then imagine a bug in the computer that makes it impossible to get off it, no matter which direction you run in, you stay in the same place. Where did I read that?
      • I had an idea like that when I was a freshman in college. However, building a trackball of that size is pretty impracticle. I wonder if you could build something out of a flexible rubber material that could be stretched across the top, but has some slack underneath?? Kinda like a giant uninflated balloon..
  • There's not much more to say about this other than yes yes yes! With more clever thinking like this we can achieve "real" VR without having to jack wires into our brains. All we need now is a body suit that makes you feel things and tracks the motion of your entire body.

    If you combine the tiles, vr goggles, a body suit and a light gun peripheral you've got the first quality VR fps. No more wasting money on airsoft or paintball. I can't believe nobody ever though of this before...
  • If you are "running" and suddenly stop, what then? In the real world you have to work to kill all that momentum and slow down.
    • You get virtual contusions of meander...
  • Multiple people? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ced_Ex ( 789138 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:58PM (#9941326)
    Will this work if you have a group of people and you all scatter in different directions?

    What if you jump?
  • by riptide_dot ( 759229 ) * on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:58PM (#9941327)
    I think this is a great step forward in the VR developments (no pun intended). What I think is going to be really interesting to see is, in say 10 years or so, what newer VR technology does to the relative fitness of your average hardcore computer gamer. Think about it - instead of sitting in a chair, you'd actually be exercising, which would burn those pizza and Dew calories.

    If that becomes the case, what would happen to the labeling of games? All games could have "calorie burn factors" printed on them, so the more intense ones would have higher "calorie burn" ratings.

    Does anyone know if there are any statstics out there for what the physical impact of today's games is that are a little like this - like "Dance Dance Revolution"?
    • Overall statistics vary a great deal, because you get into workout programs (Which definately have varied results for individuals). It'll take a bit more time to see if games like DDR stick, and what effects it will have on the gaming community.

      One of the nice things about DDR, and even some of the boxing games in the arcades, is that they have calorie counters, so you know how much of a workout you're getting. DDR even has a workout mode so that you can increase your goal if you had a particularly fatte
    • This won't happen. There is a reason video gamers have a stereotype of fat and lazy non-athletes. Once athletic skill is required for a game, don't expect that game to do well on the shelves. The reason will simbly be that it's no fun to lose, which is why the stereotypical gamer is regarded as shunning athletics in the first place. I know there are people who are athletic and gamers, but for the purpose of the stereotype you presented in your post, I think this is accurate.

      The other reason is that the
      • There is a reason video gamers have a stereotype of fat and lazy non-athletes. Once athletic skill is required for a game, don't expect that game to do well on the shelves.

        As an avid player of DDR, who has managed to get quite a few of my other gamer friends addicted to DDR, as well as know others with similar stories, I call shenanigans. DDR is fun, requires (sometimes Herculean) effort, and has the addictive quality of trying to "beat it" by getting to higher levels. Once you get past the stigma of

  • by Maestro4k ( 707634 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @01:59PM (#9941328) Journal
    Wouldn't it be simpler to use a sphere sitting on rollers so it would turn with the person inside it? It wouldn't have to be too large to keep the interior curve to a reasonable level (so the person inside didn't feel they were always walking uphill. It wouldn't have to have many electronics (no predicting where the user's walking, just move with them) and rough terrain could be handled with a sort of wallpaper like object attached to the interior.

    These tiles are neat but it seems to be making the problem more difficult than necessary. Yes a sphere wouldn't allow doing a duck and roll but most applications would probably be walking/running anyway.

    • by Tlosk ( 761023 )
      Hehe, are you sure? It seems to me like a couple tiles of the size shown in the picture are a heck of a lot simpler and more cost effective than a freely rotating sphere of a size big enough to both fit a person and have a small curve (you have to go pretty large, over 20 feet diameter, before you get away from a strongly pronounced curvature).

      Their idea is actually quite clever, and perhaps more importantly, could be something that would end up being relatively low cost.

      I wouldn't want to try to get liti
    • A giant gerbil ball... For people. Nice.

      I think one of the factors they're dealing with is size. The gerbil ball would take up tons of space (Especially in the Japanese perspective), even if not in use.

      ~D
    • by swb ( 14022 )
      I have no idea if this would work, but what came to mind for me would be having the VR floor consist of a treadmill on a turntable. Since the treadmill can only go in one direction, the treadmill belt would be embedded with spheres.

      As you walked, the treadmill would walk with you to leave you close to the center. If you changed directions, the treadmill would rotate to compensate for your directions, and the spheres would allow the treadmill to be rotated without turning your orientation. I think it wou
      • Think it through a little more -- if you stand on a turntable, then as the it turns so will you. If you mount a treadmill on a turntable, then if the turntable turned, you would as well and would therefore continue forward on the treadmill without falling off.

        The problem is that if you turn while on the treadmill, you are turning RELATIVE TO THE TREADMILL. If the turntable under the treadmill turns this WON'T compensate for your change of direction relative to the treadmill. End result: you fall off.
    • UK Company [ndtilda.co.uk] is doing this. I saw a presentation by one of the company at a meeting of the London Virtual Reality Group in 2001(?), in the Bartlett School of Architecture.
    • I've read about such thing a few years ago in a magazine. I think it was developed by a russian guy and the final price was expected to be about $4-5k. Right now I'm not sure how the movement was measured, but I guess it was similar to what is used in a usual ball mouse.
    • by sls1j ( 580823 )
      A sphere may be simpler but it would still need to have some sencing capability and motorization. Otherwise say you were running at top speed. That sphere is going to have a lot of angular momentum so when you try to stop quickly you'll fall flat on your face and be flipped around several times while the ball slows down.
      • That sphere is going to have a lot of angular momentum so when you try to stop quickly you'll fall flat on your face and be flipped around several times while the ball slows down.

        Isn't that part of the fun? >:)

        ~D
    • Inertia.

      The sphere would have inertia. It would have to have a few powerfull & very accurate electric motors if it wanted to hide the fact that a large, durable sphere has inertia. Both inertia of rest and inertia once you started moving it in any direction.

      Anyway, a neat thing about this floor tile thing is that it's relatively tiny. Your sphere might not have to be 200' around, but it's certainly going to have to be over 6' around. These tiles don't have any external housing. Just looks like one big
    • Ok I will buy your giant gerbil ball, but I will not, repeat will not sleep in my food dish.
    • A sphere you walk on top of would probably be easier to construct, but unfortunately, either way has the same problem, because you're wrong about one thing.

      It would have to be quite large to seem flat.

      Thanks to a helpful page on chords at http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/57832.htm l [mathforum.org], here's what I came up:

      Assume a 30 inch step.
      That makes the short side of the triangle 15 inches.
      Start off with a sphere 10 feet in radius (20 feet in diameter).
      15/120 = .0125, which is the sine of the trian
    • by bitinglobster ( 804665 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @03:25PM (#9942132)
      This is reply to several posts. There's been a couple inquiring about other kinds of 2-d treadmills and spheres, both of which exist (see below for links to videos and papers).

      There are fundamental problems with all of these types of devices-- they 1) don't let the body handle momentum naturally and 2) don't stimulate the vestibular system in a way that is consistent with the visual or proprioceptive (the body's sense of where its limbs are) cues.

      1) Momentum: On a 2-D treadmill, the omni-directional treadmill is supposedly fast enough that it allows for running. But when you are running and then change direction quickly, your body will lean into the turn to counter its momentum. Doing this on the treadmill will make you fall over. Someone once described it as "running on a slippery ice cube".

      2) Vestibular cues: Our body can sense motion even without visuals or body movements. This is why some flight simulators have motion platforms [://www.simlabs.arc.nasa.gov/vms/motionb.html]. One post above said that the treadmill should reduce motion sickness because it provides body motions as well as visuals. But a treadmill doesn't cue the vestibular system. One theory of motion sickness is that it results from a mismatch of visual and vestibular cues. In the back seat of a car, your visual cues say you are still (relative to the inside of the car) but the vestibular system says you are moving. Similarly in a IMAX theater or while playing an FPS on a big screen, your visuals say you are moving but your vestibular system says you are still. Knowing how you are moving is critical for maintain balance and even surviving. The mismatch in visual and vestibular cues interferes with your ability to balance, and that's why dizziness results.

      Luckily, one can fool the vestibular system, much as we can fool the visual system. Techniques include "wash-out" [mfs.com.au] on motion platforms, electrical stimulation [tech-report.com], and Redirection [unc.edu]. Wash-out is where the motion platform moves the user to simulate the virtual motion, but then sneaks her back to the center of the room at an acceleration that is below what her vestibular system can detect. The shifting tiles look like a fabulous idea, and I wonder if one could implement a form of wash-out on those tiles.

      Links

      One more thing, the problem with, as one post suggested, implementing VR in a huge wide open space (like a desert) is tracking. The computer needs to know where your head is and in which direction you are looking, very accurately and quickly, so it can draw the virtual scene from your perspective. By accurately, I mean with millimeter precision, and by quickly I mean it must update the images within tens of milliseconds of your head moving. If you focus your eyes on your figure at arms length, then rotate your head right and left, the reflex that moves your eyes to keep them locked on your finger is called the VOR (vestibular ocular reflex). It can react to head movements in 10 milliseconds.

    • by xygorn ( 632847 )
      While we are looking at other alternatives: If we are already using remotely controlled wheels that stay under your feet, why don't we just attach the wheels to the shoes. Basically, multi-directional roller skates with controlled wheels should be able to do the same thing, with a lot less complexity
  • ... oh, wow ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ninjagin ( 631183 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:00PM (#9941341)
    I've been waiting for something like this for years. VR games and VR/VRML worlds have needed this like crazy for the longest time.

    I can already think of improvements:

    1. Scale up the 4-tile model for walking, and have a 12-tile model for running.

    2. Force-feedback tiles for seismic or moving-walkway effectts.

    3. cushiony lifting-tiles to simulate low-g walks/runs/jumps.

    Of course, can you imagine the liability issues for a manufacturer of such a product?

    Very neat. I can't wait to have one. When they have it work with Unreal Tournament, I'll be sold.

  • by Skevin ( 16048 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:03PM (#9941369) Journal
    These guys are out at Siggraph Emerging Technologies, and I'm trying it for myself even as I type.

    Your pace has be be quite a bit slower than the article suggests, and the compensational backwards movement of the platform throws you off. I'm laughing at the picture in the article where the guy wears the blindfold, because just now, the vendor won't let me wear one. I'm going to show STFA to them in protest in just a few seconds here...

    Solomon
  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:04PM (#9941382) Homepage
    Anyone remember the first "dactyl attack" game in the arcades. Huge helmet, a ring that keeps you in place, and a "walk" button on the gun to move forward. It was the best thing at the time, but totally unnatural. If this can really do true--or nearly true--360 degree tracking in 2d and eventually map to uneven terrain, that'd be awesome.

    What might be interesting for uneven terrain would be something like those old "pin art" toys you could get at Headlines or Yarmo Zone. You know, the ones with 1000 pins on a rack in square formation, and you would reset them by dumping them all to the back, and then pushing something--your face or a fist or something uneven--into them, and on the other side you'd get a pin sculpture of your hand or whatever.

    It wouldn't work for everything (i.e. simulated overhangs in a climbing situation), but if you had something like that on a huge scale, maybe covered with some sort of flexible surface, you could simulate some pretty interesting terrains if you had the computer determining the pin positions.

  • Attn all employees: Your sleeping tubes have now been upgraded, to a modestly sized bathroom, with movable tiles with VR-capability! You will live in a virtual mansion! Note: All employees will receive an annual $10,000 deduction for VR-Mansion maintainence fees.
  • "But in the Latin alphabet, "Jehovah" begins with an "I."
  • Video Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chibi Merrow ( 226057 ) <mrmerrow&monkeyinfinity,net> on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:08PM (#9941431) Homepage Journal
    Not sure if anyone else pointed this out, but the actual website is here [tsukuba.ac.jp] and includes a demonstration video.
  • by AnonymousKev ( 754127 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:09PM (#9941438)
    Okay, I'm feeling pessimistic today.

    Moving tiles means there are gaps. Gaps means things can be wedged into those gaps. Now what happens when you're running in VR land and wedge your foot into the fast-moving tiles? Suddenly, not being able to see your real-world foot doesn't sound so good ...

  • by grunt107 ( 739510 ) on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:21PM (#9941542)
    Future story:
    "The % of obese people ages 18-26 has decreased significantly with the simultaneous releases of GTA5:VRRiot and MallWalker1:ShoppingFury"
  • Researchers have come up with tiles that move in concert with a user's pace... in Japan!
  • Now we just need a VR bodysuit so I can have better virtual sex than I can get at fu-fme [onzin.nl]
  • Tickling the neurons (Score:2, Interesting)

    by gsf789 ( 760934 )
    How did they handle this in the world of the Matrix?

    Oh yeah, plug it into the brain directly and you can worry about simulating kinesthesia and proprioception at the root of the problem.

    Once we do that we'll look back at this and think, boy what a silly circuitous solution.
  • by LightForce3 ( 450105 ) <`lightforce3' `at' `yahoo.com'> on Wednesday August 11, 2004 @02:35PM (#9941704) Homepage
    ...but it was rather half-baked. It was a passive system that involved a fixed array of spheres on some kind of (possibly low-friction) surface that a person would walk on. Fill up a shallow pan with a layer of marbles and you'll have an idea of what it would look like.

    I hadn't solved the problem of how to create the proper amount of resistance, so if it were implemented as designed, it probably would have been something like walking on ice. Also, I hadn't entirely worked out how to get data from the grid for feedback to the imaging components of the system.

    Just one of those things you come up with when you're not paying attention in class. :)
  • Can anyone tell me why you can't just use a zillion little trackballs? That's what was used in the "Angel" program in the awful movie (but OK book) Disclosure. I'd imagine that would be a bit easier...?

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- Looney Tunes, Ali Baba Bunny (1957, Chuck Jones)

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