Virtual reality while sitting at a desk is nice, and I'm sure plenty of folks will flock to the Oculus Rift when it arrives early next year. But my vision of virtual reality comes from novels like Larry Niven's Dream Park, where groups of players travel to a place built specifically for such experiences. Places a lot like what Utah-based startup The Void is showing off in the demo reel below.
Instead of bringing virtual reality to the players every day environment, The Void is building arenas specifically designed for virtual reality games, with architecture in place such that when a player reaches for a control panel, they're actually touching something. When they bump into a wall, there's a wall.
According to a profile on the company and project over at Road To VR, The Void makes use of its own proprietary VR hardware, the Rapture HMD. Its features are pretty impressive.
- Dual High-Density Curved OLED Displays (1080p per-eye, initially)
- Quantum Dots (nearly doubling perceived resolution colour range)
- Custom Optics (proprietary lens-in-lens design)
- High-Quality THX Headphones (featuring in-game binaural sound design)
- Super-Gain Inline Microphones (for in-game communications)
- Proprietary Global Head Tracking Sensors (running at 120Hz)
Since The Void's hardware is meant strictly for commercial use, it doesn't need to adhere to a consumer-friendly price point, giving the developers much more leeway in creating immersive experiences. Coupled with a haptic feedback "Rapture Vest" and environmental effects like wind and water built into the park's facilities, players will be transported much more fully than they would sitting on their asses on the couch.
I am not excited about home-based VR technology. I imagine sitting in my living room on my couch with my face obscured and I feel silly and unsafe. Virtual reality as a destination however, is something I've been dreaming about for decades. If The Void can pull off half of what's in the ad reel, I'll be first in line should a facility open nearby.
Just be warned. If you put me in a room with other people holding a stick meant to represent a weapon, those other people are getting hit. Repeatedly.