November 03 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2008 Rating: 3
Dubbed the VirtuSphere, this giant ball hopes to deliver a true virtual reality experience by giving people the ability to explore their environments on foot. “The VirtuSphere platform consists of a large hollow sphere that sits on top of a base and allows the sphere to rotate 360 degrees. Wearing a wireless, head-mounted display, users can step inside the sphere to fully interact in immersive virtual environments.” It claims users can run, jump, crawl, even roll inside the sphere.
This is new technology, meaning it’s also beta technology. From the looks of it, the idea that a user could actually run in that thing is a little far-fetched. Not only is the ground curved, but without a more accurate virtual image on the heads-up display users might find themselves a little off-balance. It also looks like the sphere cannot help move the ball in the direction you are moving — if you’re running at full speed and suddenly stop, you might end up eating virtual pavement as the ball continues its momentum.
The key to these devices is really going to be in flat ground. Balance is easier, it’s more familiar, and it allows for non-wireless tech to be included such as more powerful headsets and maybe a support harness. Maybe an omni-directional treadmill which can tell which way you are going and move accordingly?
Maybe if we can get those white boxes from the Beijing Opening Ceremony we could incorporate vertical as well as horizontal movement (skip to the 42 minute mark).