Okay so perhaps the featured image in this post is an exaggeration. However, if you use any kind of high fidelity VR before you would know that there are wires everywhere. I make the distinction about high fidelity because there are options such as the Samsung Gear VR that make some subtle sacrifices in exchange for mobility.
You might be aware that a large proportion of people feel some sort of motion sickness or vertigo while consuming VR content. This happens primarily because of frame or refresh rate inadequacy of the rendering subsystems of the device. The device is not able to perform the calculations to draw the transformed virtual world fast enough in response to your head movements. Your brain interprets this lag as being either intoxicated or unwell.
This is why a lot of today’s headsets rely on the computing power of a desktop machine over that of a mobile device. In this kind of a set up the VR headset is simply an input controller (tracking your head movements) and display device (much like your monitor). Add to that a joystick, some pucks or other kind of controller and the setup will severely restrict your movement.
In a new announcement by HTC and DisplayLink this June we see the potential of freedom from the wires connecting you to the PC without the need to sacrifice immersion. DisplayLink’s new codec and hardware are able to deliver up to 120 Hz of bandwidth over wireless connections in contrast to the 60 Hz that are common today.
Imagine the future where you can wear a VR headset and walk around without the fear of tripping over wires, entangling yourself or sacrificing the realness of the virtual world that you are experiencing.
Importantly, they are able to achieve this in a lightweight and elegant form factor without unseemly large antennas.
Now imagine pairing this with something like the Google project Soli which uses a small radar to detect gesture based interactions. This sensor emits a broad beam of electromagnetic waves that reflect of your hands and fingers and are interpreted as commands.
With its abilities to capture even some of the very fine gestures this kind of a device can allow you to interact with virtual worlds in ways that are almost impossible today.
Where Google’s new technology offers freedom from wires another innovative company has chosen to go the other way. Dexmo by Dextarobotics is an exoskeleton glove that will allow you to physically touch virtual-reality objects.
This truly next-generation haptic device can give you force feedback based on virtual geometry. To some extent it can also give you a range of resistance as if the virtual objects were made from different kinds of materials such as metals, plastics or even rubber.
With these and other cutting-edge technologies, the fast evolving VR landscape is set to continue to blur the lines between what is virtual and what is real. Within the next 10 years or so experiences that were so far only science fiction will be commonplace. In fact we could argue this is already happening today.
At Playware we feel that high fidelity VR simulations will take on an increasingly important role in the future of training and skill development. With this pace of technology innovation and adoption, who knows, VR skill sets maybe the sought after skill set of the future.
About the Author:
Siddharth is the Creative Director for Playware Studios a Singapore Serious Games Developer. He develops games for Military, Healthcare, Airlines, Corporate and Government training and Mainstream education. He has taught game design in various college programs at NTU, SIM, NUS and IAL in Singapore and is the author and proponent of the Case Method 2.0 GBL pedagogy.