Around Virtual Reality (VR) Technology exists a complex world of imagination, creativity, design, realism and impossibility. VR worlds allow users to live experiences of all kind, including those completely impossible. For example, if we think about flying, we associate this activity with certain elements or vehicles that allow us to fly. But with a VR headset, a computer and an application, it’s possible to live an experience like flying, which can even become more realistic if we can try it in a facility with certain hardware that allows the user to feel the complete sensation of fly (air, movements, feet out of the floor, etc.).
For that reason, VR is used as an important tool to treat disorders, phobias and live extreme experiences that may be dangerous in real life. How about living an out-of-body experience only wearing a VR headset and headphones? This is one of the experiments developed by Frank Kolkman to treat “Existential Death Anxiety” disorder using his experiment called Outrespectre, whose main objective is to make users experience the sensation of been out of their body, viewing themselves in from of them and hearing as if they were not where their body is.
If experiencing this out-of-body sensation could be incredible, check the following VR developments and try to imagine how you will feel in each one.
The completion of a full human experience happens when we can see, and feel in a VR or AR context that parts of our own body and whatever we carry on our body, hands, feet or clothes, have an exact avatar and digital clone that we see and feel with their precise movements, positions, rotations. Making the experience fully immersive is keeping scientists and researchers all over the world busy by means of high-precision technology devices that must be tiny and cheap for their massive adoption. Premo Electromagnetic Tracking Sensors are intended for a secure, precise and wireless low-cost contribution to full immersive VR and AR technologies. Researches and progresses have been recently made in the field of ultra-low weight, high precision EM Trackers that face successfully the challenges of:
- Low-weight with new advanced alloys and topologies
- Low jittering and high noise immunity
- High-precision location
- High-speed precision
- Massive availability
An increasing ecosystem of companies developing the VR and AR full technology value layers are addressing and solving the challenges with the soon coming announcement of the first world ever fully integrated monolithic semiconductor for standalone solutions in wireless Immersive VR.
This post describes some of the most eye-catching and impressive uses of the VR extreme experiences. Enjoy, comment or make contributions to the VR Ecosystem by making the knowledge of the technology broader and deeper.
This extreme experience of free flying was born in 2013 at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) in Switzerland as a Design Research project. After the work of several researchers, media artists and students, the first prototype was available in 2014, winning the Laval Virtual Award at Siggraph 2014 in Vancouver and nominated to be “the best and most exciting VR application existing today.” Currently is SOMNIACS, in collaboration with ZHdK, responsible for the distribution and marketing of Birdly and other full-body VR experiences.
This technology is based on VR headset and headphones that the user wears and a platform based on a hydraulic mechanism controlled by the user, simulating “bird” wings. The movement inside the virtual environment is fully controlled by the user, who must change his/her posture and move his/her arms to move and fly inside the virtual world.
More videos at: https://vimeo.com/158664105
This is one of the attractions of the SeaWorld Theme Park in Orlando, called Kraken Unleashed, a real roller coaster combined with VR headset and earphones, offering some extreme experiences to the visitors. Along the movement of the roller coaster the visitor “race through underwater canyons and the deep, dark hunting grounds of the legendary sea monster.”
The ride starts in a futuristic underwater laboratory and in the first steps seems a peaceful and nice dive inside a pod of dolphins (as you can see in the picture). Then the visitors enter a deep underwater canyon before the ride turns in a terrifying experience.
Are you enough brave to feel the physical sensation of one of the biggest roller coasters, combined with a virtual reality experience inside a dangerous and terrifying underwater experience?
A YouTube video can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIUsmYjpZ8Q
This is an extreme game used as a kind of fitness training due to its high physical requirements. This game, called Sword Master VR, supports Oculus Touch and HTC Vive and offers an intense sword fighting gameplay never seen before in another video game.
The user must learn the use of the sword and fight in several combats in the 360 degrees of the virtual space, involving quick movements from all angles, quick reactions and defense from attacks coming from everywhere.
If you would like to feel this extreme experience of survival in a virtual world full of dangers, this will be your game.
A YouTube video can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grUc75ELfvE
If you like mountain biking and want to live this kind of activity in another way, maybe you must try this amazing experience.
An indoor bike and a headset combined with earphones are enough to do some exercise while you can ride your bike in places where you have never been before. Speed, adrenaline, jumps and more could be present in this immersive experience.
VirZoom is one of the companies offering this kind of experience. You can buy a specific device to turn your indoor bike (among compatible models), an exciting experience, along with a VR headset and some games available. Also, they offer a specific model of indoor bike marketed by them, if you prefer to acquire the complete kit. The application supports several VR headsets, including HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
ACTIVETAINMENT is another company that offers this kind of experiences. It consists of a specific indoor bike which offers real motion inside the games and user full control of the bike movement inside the environment. It enables a completely immersive experience of extreme mountain biking.
The idea of these applications is making the user feel completely immersed in a virtual world, exploring spaces never seen before, while pedaling with his real bike. The extreme experience will be given by the simulation of risk spaces, obstacles to get by and all kinds of elements that allow users to recall the most real and complex attitudes of a mountain biking expert.
What about living live events in a more immersive and realistic way? NextVR is the leader distributor of this kind of experiences. With a Samsung Gear VR, it is possible to be immersed in different sports and music events by only connecting in real time to their specific channel. This company has partnered with the biggest leagues and broadcasters to deliver exclusive VR events, including NBA games, International Champions Cup soccer matches, and live concerts. Their technology allows the user to be courtside, behind the goal or center stage using their headset.
One example of this technology is the chance of living NBA games live on-demand. For that, you only need the Samsung Gear VR, a compatible mobile phone and a downloadable app, when you can connect to the live event following a specific schedule.
This new way of living the most relevant games sports using this technology could be amazing.
Specular Theory is a content studio located in Venice Beach. Due to their work developing immersive contents since 2013, they have been awarded on multiple occasions. Among its innovating creations you can find HTC Vive Interactive Experiences, Driving Simulation, Rift Park (Oculus Rift Experience) and more. One of the most exiting experiences offered by this studio is called Jeep@ brand VR Surfing Experience.
In this case, the user can feel in the first person the real experience of surfing the waves themselves. Using a Samsung Gear VR headset, the viewer gets a first-person point of view form the surfer’s perspective, living the experience of catching waves in an iconic surf location in Malibu, CA. This VR development won the Best Live-Action Sports Experience at CES 2016 VR Fest Awards.
If you do not how to surf and you are really interested in feeling this extreme experience, this could be the best way of living it.
Virtual Reality Racing
When we talk about extreme experiences, we cannot miss those related to car driving. We all know the adrenaline and excitement of driving vehicles in real life, especially if we are talking about experiences related to races and speed. However, these activities are dangerous and can be only done by professionals.
For that reason, there are a lot of games and simulators trying to transmit all the feelings around cars, races and speed using virtual simulations. The use of headsets allows an immersive experience that can create a complete feeling of living a race.
There are several racing applications and games that support VR simulation using HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. RaceRoom Racing Experience, Project CARS, Asseto Corsa, iRacing, Live for Speed. All of them try to immerse the user in a world of speed, races and skilled driving. It is possible to read a description and comparison in the article offered by RoadtoVR.
Medicine is another area where VR can offer a good environment to train professionals for dangerous interventions and situations. Medical Realities is a company offering a wide range of materials to train and teach in surgical procedures.
This platform is based on immersive video and is available for Gear VR, DayDream, Android and IOS (with Google CardBoard). In all of them, they provide a 4K 360° Video augmented with information about procedures, knowledge to transmit to the user and more. Also, they provide a complete VR anatomy representation, trying to deep more in the knowledge needed for each surgical procedure.
In this case, the application is not a real VR interactive platform, because they use 360° video technology to get a complete immersive view of each surgical procedure, but realism and the opportunity of learning using Immersive Video techniques are very high.
For the interested reader in this topic you can access the post written by Sergio Cobos, who offers an in-depth and excellent detailed view on AR/ VR Innovations in Surgery and Healthcare.
Not everyone feels comfortable with the idea of wearing a parachute and launching themselves out of an airplane or similar. For that reason, it could be interesting to live the experience of Skydiving in a more comfortable environment – maybe to feel the sensation and then try the real experience, or to overcome phobias o fear of height.
This company, TwinWoods Adventure, offers the opportunity of living the experience of Skydiving in an indoor and controllable environment. They have a fully immersive VR 4D Skydive experience wearing a specific jumpsuit, harness, parachute and a full-face VR helmet, inside a powerful wind tunnel, which can generate wind speeds up to 180 mph. The user experience starts from the realistic jump form a plate and continue with the incredible skydiving above a sunny Californian environment. To complete the experience, users need 4 preparations flights without the complete equipment, inside the wind tunnel, and when they are ready, they can live the full experience wearing the complete set.
This company offers other interesting experiences (not all VR immersive), such as skydiving without VR environment simulation, indoor surfing, racing, shooting, climbing and archery.
Going through a rollover car accident is not a pleasant experience. However, if we think of a simulator that allow users to feel what can happened in a car accident, with the main objective of raising awareness of the importance of road safety and proper driving in the real life, could be an extreme experience. The University of Valencia in Spain has carried out a project for the Saudi Aramco company involving edge technologies to improve the behavior of people related to traffic and driving. The project includes several interactive applications in VR and AR, including a fully immersive rollover simulator.
This system involves a real setting with a car and some mechanism to simulate the real rollover in a safe and controlled environment. Also, users wear a headset to live the complete experience of an accident while they feel the extreme experience of spin around. The possibilities of this technology are important and the main objective in this case is not entertainment, but also education and awareness.
The real Maverick of our time, the great wave all surfers dream about in technology, is the combination of ultra-high computational capacities at very low cost, high power GDUs, a new revolution in sensors and hardware driven by the smartphone economies of scale. Immersive experiences in VR are coming to stay and make our digital dimension of life better. The above examples are just a few examples of what is coming and what is already possible.