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VR gets 'real' with other technologies

Reporter: Jennifer Hsiung 丨 CCTV.com

11-04-2016 02:24 BJT

Virtual reality is shaping several industries, especially when combined with other technologies. One Chinese motion capture company is doing just that. Its latest VR and motion capture system is called “Project Alice,” and it is giving users a true sense of just how real—and controversial—virtual reality can get.

Project Alice takes us down the rabbit hole—and from Qianmen in virtual reality, to Qianmen in real life. Leading motion capture company Noitom has decided to unleash its newest technology in one of Beijing’s oldest consumer streets.

With Project Alice, Noitom is applying what it does best—capturing real life objects—and fusing it with virtual reality to create a multi-user and mixed reality experience. 

Noitom’s patented inertia sensor allows for movement tracking irrespective of camera signals. One of its earlier motion capture technology systems, Perception Neuron, was even purchased by hit HBO TV show “Game of Thrones.” And it was used to create that epic battle scene in season six.

Indeed, virutal reality has huge potential in China, which owns the world’s largest potential consumer group for VR. With the added advantages of manpower and capital, more and more startup companies are staking their domain in this industry, which has massive potnetial for applications. 

Because motion capturing works with VR, VR no longer has to be an isolating experience. Now, you can go on a mission in a different world with your friends. And because real life props are matched to their virtual reality counterparts, the gaming experience can feel more real than ever before in part because it is half real.

And Google's “Tilt Brush” is taking art to a new dimension. The air is your canvas and you can paint 3D life-sized brush strokes of almost anything.

Content production is still lacking in the VR industry, but already, it is going beyond just gaming and films.

Mind over matter—that is exactly what VR applications are helping people achieve; whether it is a fear of heights, or a desire to work on your balancing skills.

VR is also helping children overcome their fear of water. It has even been used in physical rehabilition, and has allowed parapalegics to regain some of their muscle memory.

As more research and development is being pumped into this industry, more applications are also being created in other fields.

But, despite all these new and exciting developments, the type of B2B VR technology we are seeing today, still has a long way to go. For one thing, the freedom to roam around is limited, unless you want to piggy back a laptop and risk crashing into a wall. And despite its low latency, wearing the headset for more than 15 minutes can still cause dizziness. But the biggest issue is still standardization. 

“Right now, there is still no industry standard for virtual reality. Companies like Oculus, HTC, Microsoft, Samsung, and Sony are all leaping ahead and releasing their own products to stake their claim of the market, but they aren’t really considering the inter-operability of their products,” said VR expert Gao Yujian.

“It’s very possible for developers and manufacturers to design a product with software and programs that are incompatible with other VR headsets. But lacking standardization will greatly limit the growth of the technology and discourage interested consumers because of the overwhelming variety that’s out there. 

“The standardization of VR should include both software and hardware. The software standard includes things such as the operating system, data interface, programming language, modelling format, etc. 

“The hardware component mainly involves the technical parameters of VR display, and things like data gloves, headsets, force feedback devices and infrared sensors. The resolution, screen refresh rate, gyroscope refresh rate, also must be taken into account.”

Standardization might be the ultimate goal, but as with other things in life, moderation is also key. Like a new video game, chocolate, or an iPhone, if VR technology can one day reach every household, it has an even greater potential of becoming addictive.

Its powers of creating a parallel virtual universe, can make us feel like anything is possible. The key is finding the right balance, and knowing what the real limits are.

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