This is it people, a new era of video games has started. The era of actually going into the video game, and being able to feel, touch, smell and hear, yes you read that right. Just about every company you can think of has started testing and we could see this technology as early as next year. I’ll explore what its all about, what it means for you and how it will change everything. Keep Reading!
Now as revolutionary as the tech sounds, its not what you think. Pressing a button will not suck you into your tv like that one episode of South Park, but companies have started working on new technology where we could get the same level of immersion and in the coming years be able to feel, touch, see and smell whats going on in the video game world. Its absurd, its real and the possibilities are endless. Just imagine battling dragons in a huge world like Skyrim albeit feeling the dragons fire or being hit by a troll and being launched in the air by said massive troll wouldn’t feel great, but it would be life changing. Games like Left 4 Dead or Silent Hill would make you really sweat profusely, make your heart race and actually fear the consequences of dying. The possibilities endless; not just the game industry would be changed completely but blatantly the sex industry as well as the film and medical industries. The technology behind it is already in development phase by an abundant number of companies and we could see audio and visual immersion as early as this year with the ability to use our senses in the next 25 years with graphics that could match or even surpass real life.
We have all seen failed attempts at Virtual Reality dating back to the 1920s with a first real attempt by Sony who released the Glasstron Headset in 1997. The technology just wasn’t there at that time but now everyone is looking to change things and make use of it. Sony is going to be showing off a prototype head-mounted VR display at the Tokyo Game Show this year. Ironically it’s called the HMZ Immersive Pleasure Device. You can watch a trailer thats only in Japanese[translation below]
“What level of immersion is it possible for people to achieve? Now, a new entertainment experiment explores that possibility: The HMZ Immersing Pleasure Device head-mounted display. Developed as an open experiment, this model has a head-tracking system and live camera. Tokyo Game Show 2012 limited model PROTOTYPE-SR. New 360-degree immersible entertainment sensation. The world of movies and the world of music can fly into the real world. Public experiments to be conducted on the 22nd and 23rd of September. We are now recruiting for the experience (deadline 13th September). You can witness the future of entertainment.”
You may have also heard about the Oculus RIFT that’s been on kick starter and has had official backing by some legends in the game industry like id’s John Carmack who said Doom would be able to use it. It was described like this after a demo at QuakeCon2012….
“There really aren’t many words to describe the way it felt other than natural. The worst part of the demo was when I was told I was getting pulled out of the game. Honestly it took me a second to realize I wasn’t in the game anymore and remember how I was supposed to look and walk properly. This is up there as one of the greatest gaming experience in my lifetime.”
He then goes on to say:
”Once that is done you can tell the depth perception of the game very easily; I noticed my gun in front of me and the walls and objects in the room, for a lack of a better term, all had their own planes of existence. We were using an XBOX 360 controller with the demo and so the controller functioned as normal with the exception of the aiming. While it is normally used by your thumb, this time you use your head to aim. The right thumbstick on the controller still serves the purpose to turn your body around and to raise/lower your weapon.”
The most incredible part is John wanted to stress the fact that this is not consumer ready by any means. It is simply ready for developers to take a hold of it and start exploring the possibilities, if that’s the result at this point then i am absolutely looking forward to the final version. The Oculus team is not playing games either their headset can be ordered with their Kickstarter already funded surpassing $2,437,430 million dollars. Easy to use developer kits and SDKs are also being included in higher models along with the HD Doom 3 BFG edition sporting some nerdy, drooling specs. The Dev kit is to have (Subject to be changed/Upgraded) Head tracking of “6 degrees of freedom (DOF) ultra low latency”, a field of view at 110 degrees diagonal / 90 degrees horizontal, Resolution of 1280×800 (640×800 per eye), multiple inputs of DVI/HDMI and USB, only weighing .22 kilograms and working for both PC and Mobile devices. So with that in mind we could possibly see this work with the Vita! Assassins Creed simulator on the go anyone?
You didn’t think the other big companies would sit out on this huge new multi-million or billion dollar field did you?
Of course not and Microsoft, one of the many companies developing new VR technology, is looking to one up Sony and the Oculus. We saw Microsoft’s supposedly leaked xbox720 document that included a huge section on VR but wasn’t descriptive. Now they’ve recently filed for a patent and its ambitious.
They plan to turn your entire living room into a Holodeck; the game world itself. A patent has been registered by Microsoft that appears to show a Kinect-enabled Xbox unit beaming images around a player onto the walls of his living room. The tech is also being designed to work with Microsoft’s Kinect Glasses technology from the docs. That means you could be looking around your living room and seeing 3D holograms in your environment. It would blend in all of your furniture and objects in your room into the world. Furthermore, i could see space become a problem with this. Time will tell if this can work just as good as the Pleasure Device or Oculus RIFT.
Making the immersion into the video game even more real would be to incorporate the human sense as in you feeling, hearing, seeing and smelling whats going on around you. Many scientists believe its more than possible and there are many ways to go about it. Some new advancements have become the path to that already. Scientists and Billionaires have began the path to blending humans and technology together, along the lines of plugging your brain via USB into a computer and uploading your memories. Thats just the beginning, and if they are able to do this we could be immortal, when our body dies we could be plugged into a virtual world with other people (Just don’t delete system32). Bio medical and Nanotechnologies are becoming more expansive. Ray Kurzweil, is one of the many and he says we could be at that stage in as little as 25 years. Ray has received nineteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents. He has also written six books, four of which have been national best sellers. Watch this video where he describes what he thinks:
Either way im excited for the future and what it brings along, not sure if my body is ready for the amount of amazing it will bring.
Here’s something fun: Don’t think graphics can match real life like Ray said? Try and see if you can guess which of these photos are real or from video games.
Answer? They’re both from Grand Theft Auto IV maxed with a realism mod!