#Virtual Reality

Spherical displays may end up being the future of VR.

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

Virtual reality is here, and with it comes massive potential to shape society for the better. However, an issue for some people is that they think it also has the potential to be quite an isolating experience, especially when compared with other more sociable forms of entertainment.

When you use VR, you strap on a pair of headphones and completely immerse yourself in the experience. Whilst the benefits of this are likely to have an impact on many other sectors besides gaming, such as education or even the housing market, a perceived drawback of such immersion is that you are, for the length of time you are interacting with it, incapable of interacting with anyone else. This can be an issue for some, especially when they have the option of playing a traditional video game or watching a movie together.

However, this could be about to change. A company has developed a mixed reality globe which overlays virtual content onto the real world – just like many other VR devices. The difference is that this device allows two people to view the exact same piece of VR content, with each person getting a perspective-corrected view of the same thing.

The device uses a motion-tracking headset first in order to see how the image on the globe looks from a variety of different perspectives. This means that from no matter where you look at the globe, you will see the same distortion-free, high-quality image. This is combined with advanced calibration and rendering techniques which optimise the depth information and display of the images, as well as translucent projection paint.

Theoretically, this means that two people could play the same VR game – but it also has implications outside the gaming sphere. So, for example, two people could collaborate with each other in the workplace. Perhaps one person could be present at a meeting hundreds of miles away, appearing on the globe which incidentally has a camera installed. This way, it would be as if the person was actually in the room. In terms of Computer Aided Design, the tech could be useful as well. A 3D model of the design could be created, and more than just one person would be able to view it.

At the moment, the technology is in its early stages, but a four-way version of this globe is currently in development which would open a lot of doors for use in real world scenarios – for example, VR surgery. Certainly, without the cumbersome headsets, virtual and augmented reality will be easier to use. And the easier to use they are, the more likely the technology is to be implemented on a large scale.

This isn’t to say that headsets will be replaced, but technology like this does open the door to VR technologies that can include seeing and talking to other people.

Can VR become a political tool?

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

Most entertainment mediums often find themselves implemented in ways the creators did not foresee. Social media is almost always used during political campaigns to spread different messages. This may not have been what they were designed for, but it is what they are particularly good at.

Now virtual reality has many different potential applications, but up until now, they have remained fairly apolitical. But this may not necessarily remain so. The beauty of VR is that it allows you to live another life. You get to experience something that doesn’t exist in the real world, or you get to do something that doesn’t correspond to how you live day to day.

This ability would allow users to not only live fantasy lives, but real ones too. Developing empathy for someone else by living a day in their shoes would be one of the best ways to compel someone to think what you want them to think. Now, the political uses become clear. Convincing people to change their minds is difficult, but by giving them a way to see through someone else’s eyes, it becomes easier. Wherever one finds themselves on the political spectrum, being able to convince others that your way is the right way is a vital tool for any campaign.

The problem is that VR is famous for allowing us to immerse ourselves in worlds that aren’t real. So this means that people one other side of the political spectrum could concoct a fantasy world for users to immerse themselves in. This way, they would be able to convince us that their version of things is the truth, when in fact it may not be.

VR is powerful, and its ability to create stories is perhaps unparalleled. When used to create obviously fictional scenarios, it is undoubtedly effective. But when the lines between fact and fiction become blurred, the potential application for VR becomes a little more troublesome.

Check Out Our DeepFrame One at the Great Exhibition of the North

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Holograms Logo

We are delighted to be headlining the country’s largest event of 2018 – The Great Exhibition of the North – with Animmersion’s unique revolutionary mixed-reality display, DeepFrame One.

The event – launched 22nd June – will feature a programme of exhibits, live performances, displays of innovation, new artworks and experiences packed into 80 days and spread across three hubs in the city of Newcastle. 

We are proud to be showcasing these experiences through the UK’s first DeepFrame One – invented by the Danish company Realfiction – which is set to change the way viewers see things. Merging the real and virtual world allows viewers to experience lifelike visuals never before seen without the use of traditional and immersive VR eyewear.

With a window like display, the DeepFrame One is the largest mixed-reality display of its kind and will be featuring in The Great Exhibition of the North for nine weeks across some of the exhibition’s key venues.  These include:

·        Eldon Square for two weeks showcasing how car showrooms could look int the future together with a Lego display that will include some of the most breath-taking visuals

·        The Hancock Museum for a further six weeks where an incredible raptor experience will take viewers into the prehistoric world together with a commissioned artist, Arcus Studios, that take the viewer on a journey through five hundred and seventy million years of Earth’s history, stopping off at the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic eras

·        The Sage Gateshead where the public will be invited to create their own immersive musical experience encompassing some of the North Easts best known landmarks.

As one of the most high-profile and visually stimulating events that the region has seen for some time, we are absolutely delighted to have been asked to be an integral part of this through the use of the DeepFrame One.

To find out more about the event, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Are we Sims or like Neo in the Matrix?

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

The concept of a simulation has been around for a long time. Using computers, we have been able to predict how certain series of events may play out, using simulations, which has the benefit of being pretty much risk free in the real world, at worst, they waste a bit of power.

But with the international success of the movie The Matrix, and of course the amazing ‘Ready  Player One’ a new idea, that we ourselves could be living inside a computer simulation, has been thrust forward, with some very high profile exponents – according to Elon Musk

“The strongest argument for us probably being in a simulation I think is the following,”Musk said. “40 years ago we had Pong. Two rectangles and a dot. That’s where we were.”

“Now 40 years later we have photorealistic, 3D simulations with millions of people playing simultaneously and it’s getting better every year. And soon we’ll have virtual reality, we’ll have augmented reality.”

“If you assume any rate of improvement at all, then the games will become indistinguishable from reality, just indistinguishable.”

When you consider the developments in VR and AR, is it impossible to believe that one day both VR and AR – combined with haptics – will become indistinguishable from reality? If so, then statistically it is likely that this has in fact already happened, and we are indeed living within it.

Whether Musk is right or not, we would probably never know, what is more interesting, we believe, is what sort of simulation is the most likely?

There are a two main different prospects, both of which have been championed by different thinkers. The two kinds of simulation we will be talking about are the kind proposed in Nick Bostrom’s now famous Simulation Argument (2003), which is available online, and the Neural Simulations proposed by Barry Dainton in his piece “On Singularities and Simulations.”(2012)

Bostrom proposes something he calls an “ancestor simulation” which involves our descendants using their super powerful computers to simulate consciousness within a machine. From there, they would simulate humanity’s history, complete with their ancestors, all of who would be fully conscious beings, but would exist in a computer like in The Sims video game, rather than a brain.

The other kind of simulation is more like what we see in the movie The Matrix, where we are plugged into something that makes us think we are living a certain life, with certain memories. Our own consciousness would be saved on a back-up, ready to be re-installed at a moment’s notice. Put simply, it is a controlled hallucination, where we think we are someone else, and have all their memories instead of our own.

Both of these ideas have their positives and negatives. To create an ancestor simulation requires that we be able to create consciousness in a machine. Philosophy of the mind has a huge body of literature, but what is clear is that people disagree as to whether consciousness can exist outside a human brain or not. A neural simulation doesn’t have this problem. But, it is a lot harder to successfully manipulate consciousness to the sufficient degree that one might think. But if Musk is right, then despite it being featured in a blockbuster movie, we think it is the most likely.

For more information about this, and in order to make up your own mind about which option is more likely, we thoroughly recommend you seek out the work of the two philosophers we have discussed.

The Simulation Hypothesis by Nick Bostrom is available free online, and Barry Dainton’s On Singularities and Simulations was published in the Journal of Consciousness Studies in 2012.

Bibliography
Bostrom, N, Are You Living in a Computer Simulation?, Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 53, NO. 211, pp. 243 – 255, 2003
Dainton, B, On Singularities and Simulations, Journal of Consciousness Studies, 2012

What is the future of achievements in VR and Games

Animmersion UK | User Interface Development | Virtual reality logo

The words “calm down, it’s only a game,” have been heard, in all likelihood, by almost everyone over their lifetimes. It tends to come in response to a negative reaction to something in a game, from losing Monopoly to the Champions League Final.

And for those of us who play video games, this turn of phrase is even more common, and even more aggravating.

Being killed or otherwise defeated in a video game, over and over again, is at best annoying, and at worst, costly in terms of in-game currency. Perhaps you lose experience points, or virtual money used to buy items, but whatever it is, the outcome is often the same. A heartfelt, often passionate feeling of anger and sadness. But why? Because, as is rightly pointed out, often in the immediate aftermath of such an outburst, it really is just a game. So what if you lose in-game money?

You can’t spend it in real world anyway. You haven’t actually lost anything. Or so what if you die in game? You can just try again, you haven’t actually died in real life, so stop complaining. The answer is, of course, that we have failed to achieve our targets in game, and this failure is what generates these negative emotions. The odd thing is that, in some cases, the feeling is exactly the same as if we fail to do something in the real world, although often not as long lasting or as extreme.

Now this last point is key. At the moment, if you concede a 90th minute equaliser on a football game, what happens? You are annoyed, sure, maybe even genuinely upset. But no one would argue that this feeling compares to how you would feel if you were actually a footballer whose team had just conceded the same equaliser in real life. Why? Well because that’s real, whereas the video game isn’t. Why does that matter? Well because you’ve trained years for that one moment, enduring plenty, and to have victory snatched away so cruelly in real life, given this, is completely different to someone who picks up a controller and plays a game.

Currently, this is an adequate response. But the onset of Virtual Reality, in a vein similar to the new movie Ready Player One, might just lead is to re-think this. Because just as one can lose in a video game, one can also achieve. It’s really hard to complete some of the achievements in a huge RPG like Dark Souls, for example. It takes skill and dedication. And yet, when someone does manage to do it, instead of their achievement being celebrated, often it is at best it is often ignored and at worst, ridiculed. But a fully immersive Virtual Reality experience may lead us to change our tune.

The example I am going to use to illustrate the point, whilst it may seem far-fetched, is not so unlikely if the relevant philosophical literature is to be believed. Firstly, consider this. Why do we idolise and respect those who climb Mount Everest? Obviously, because it’s really hard to climb. It takes years of training, unbelievable levels of endurance, and, I would imagine, really hurts. If I were to ask you, whether me climbing Everest on a computer game compares to the real thing in terms of difficulty, the answer would be no. All I’m doing is sitting on my sofa playing on a console. Therefore, I don’t deserve the reception that a real mountain climber deserves.

But now consider this. You put on a headset that is so realistic if you didn’t know any better you’d swear you were on Everest.

Furthermore, you are wearing a full body suit that can mimic, down to a T, every sensation one might have climbing Everest. Every bite from the freezing wind, all the aches and pains that undoubtedly ravage the bodies of people who climb Everest, perfectly accurately. So to put it simply, it is just as physically demanding for you to climb Everest, in terms of pain, as it would be for someone actually climbing the mountain. Would this be regarded as comparatively impressive?

This is still a video game, one might say, your body hasn’t actually moved anywhere, so one could argue that because of that fact, no it wouldn’t be. But again we come back to the earlier question. What’s so hard about actually moving your limbs in such a way so as to climb Everest? It’s really difficult for a number of reasons. But in the near future, every stress and strain you would expose yourself to on the mountain may be simulated artificially in your brain. After all, our brains tell us when something hurts. For you, it wouldn’t matter that you hadn’t actually been there, your body would hurt just as much as if you had.

This is a specific example, but the same could apply to a virtual experience where you swim the English Channel, or complete a marathon. Now when it comes to how much credit we give someone for doing something, there are things other than physical endurance we take into account. Perhaps you are running the marathon for charity, which is admirable and worthy of praise even if you come last.

But, it seems to us that the experiences would be comparable on a physical level, and thus, effectively, playing a video game where you climb Everest would warrant congratulations in the same realm as those you would give to someone who had actually been and done it.

Are we living in a virtual world?

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Virtual reality technology is becoming more and more realistic, and in the near future, as the technology improves, we expect headsets that provide complete and total immersion. In fact, we expect VR to become so realistic and streamlined, one could be forgiven for thinking that it was real.

The advent of the technology brings into focus again an interesting philosophical question, popularised in the film, The Matrix, namely, whether it is possible that we are in fact living in a virtual environment that we think is real.

If this is the case, then one possibility is that we are like a version of The Sims, and everything, including us, is virtual. But this would seemingly require the actual creation of a conscious mind within a machine, something which, from a technological perspective, is hard to envisage.

There is another issue with this idea as well. In this case, we, as virtual beings, would definitely have a creator of some kind, and it isn’t clear why they would have any interest in creating a wholly virtual world in the first place. This is especially pertinent when you take into account all the suffering that the creator would have to create as well as us.

If we do live in virtual world, it is more likely we are plugged into a hi tech pair of VR goggles, which continuously generate our world, whilst at the same time manipulating our minds to make us forget that there is a real world outside the simulation. Now again, this technology is far more advanced than anything we currently have, but seems less difficult to create than the kind mentioned above.

And furthermore, it seems more likely that we might voluntarily sign up to experience something like this as well. Given the popularity of games like Second Life, it doesn’t seem to be much of a stretch to suggest people might plug themselves in to a machine that let them really experience a second life for a prescribed amount of time.