If you have seen Star Trek, you will know that the characters in the movie used Holodeck, a virtual reality room where holographic images were projected in an enclosed space to create virtual people, environment and objects. This let the users interact with simulated surroundings. This reel life thing can now be obtained in real life, thanks to the researchers from the University of Michigan. They have used the Unreal engine to develop a room which creates immersive virtual reality surroundings, just like Holodeck.
The MIDEN (Michigan Immersive Digital Experience Nexus) is a 10 foot by 10 foot walled space that imitates real-life surroundings with the use of projected images generated by computers. The room was upgraded by including Unreal graphics engine which was earlier used to create some of the most visually advanced video games of all time like the Mass Effect and Bioshock Infinite series.
The researchers said in a university statement “Incorporating the Unreal Engine into a space like the MIDEN allows visitors to experience an intense level of realism never before achieved in this sort of environment, opening new doors not just for gamers, but for those seeking high quality visualizations for research and exploration. Unreal Engine brings a wide range of materials and visual effects to any scene.”
How Interaction Takes Place in the MIDEN?
By upgrading MIDEN to the Unreal engine, the VR testing room will be able to create extremely lifelike surroundings which will have natural elements like water, plants, flame and smoke. The users will be able to interact with the images using MIDEN’s tracking system which depends on stereoscopic glasses and a gaming controller. Tracking balls deck up these items. With the tracking system, the virtual environments can move out in all directions. The users can move freely through the surroundings and can also manipulate different objects.
The room can track the user’s location and based on the user’s perspective, the surrounding images change. Different real-life settings like a balcony overlooking a city, a church, etc. are created.
UM3D said in a press release that the system is designed “not just for gamers, but for those seeking high quality visualizations for research and exploration,” precisely, “studies involving human behavior and environmental effects.”
If the Holodeck-like room is taken to its logical conclusion, we can get a complete virtual world which cannot be segregated from reality. If this happens, VR will get one step closer to imitating real life.
What’s your take?
What do you think about this VR Holodeck room? Do you think VR has the potential to replicate real life world? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image Source – michiganengineering.tumblr.com