Out Of Body Gaming

outofbody.jpgEver have a dream where you are watching yourself in third person? The out of body experience is a well documented phenomenon in the science world, generally associated with trauma or near-death experiences, but now scientists in Sweden and Britain have begun inducing the sensation, and the gaming implications of the technology are intriguing indeed. Here's how it works: Scientists fit a customer with goggles that contain video screens. Two cameras film the subject left and right, feeding the images into the corresponding eyes to create a three dimensional image behind them. The scientists then provide a stimulus...say touching a plastic rod to their chest, while at the same time performing a similar motion to the 3D image. In the UK study, Dr. Henrik Ehrsson reports that 18 of the 19 subjects said they felt as if the 3D image they were watching was the real person. In another experiment a hammer was swung towards the neck of the 3D construct, causing subjects to start to sweat, feeling as if they were about to be struck.

"This was a bizarre, fascinating experience for the participants - it felt absolutely real for them," Dr. Ehrsson says.

"This is essentially a means of projecting yourself, a form of teleportation. If we can project people into a virtual version of themselves, just imagine the implications. The experience of playing video games could reach a whole new level."

Could you imagine? Theoretically a virtual reality booth could be set up with cameras tracking your movement, projecting you directly into the action. A tactile suit with pressure motors could provide sensations...sure it would be damn expensive, but damn cool at the same time.

My one worry about the technology used in gaming applications is that it could be far too real. I've been scared out of my wits playing horror games in the past. What if it were so real I felt I was in the game itself? I could easily see gaming-induced panic attacks occurring. How real do we want to get?

How to be in two places at once [globeandmail.com - Thanks Julian!]


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