Ever since the Oculus Rift hit Kickstarter several years ago, VR enthusiasts have been on the edge of their seats waiting for the brave new world powered by virtual reality… which to date has been slow to come at best and a dud at worst. Oculus got swallowed up by Facebook and has been sitting in a pile of hopeful applications yet to come ever since. Samsung’s Gear VR is being practically given away on street corners in an attempt to gain users. Everybody else in the game is experiencing similar results.
That might be because as cool as it is to sit in one place and be able to experience concerts or sports events from around the world in 3D while on your couch, and as cool as it is to be immersed inside of a game instead of playing as — really — more of an observer of the action than a part, the holy grail of VR is still what most people dream of and are waiting for. Anyone who has read any of my posts regarding virtual reality, augmented reality, or the like know that I’m referring to, of course, a Holodeck-like experience.
True immersion comes when we not only see the illusion around us and can interact with it, but when we can move through it physically. For those of you who feel the same way and have been anxiously waiting for the Holodeck promise but bummed by the interim points leading there, our wait might be finally coming to an end. And the guy behind Atari and Chuck E. Cheese is bringing it.
That man is Nolan Bushnell, who is sometimes even credited with spawning the modern video game industry. He was approached by Jason Crawford — another VR enthusiast who got excited over the Oculus Rift — last year after Crawford had invented the technology that will power the Modal VR experience. And it will be an experience. The Modal VR proprietary hardware combined with existing software will allow a VR experience that tracks every movement of up to at least 10 people, wirelessly, across a space of 900,00 square feet. That’s roughly the length of a football field squared.
Of course the headset is still bulky and ugly, but when you’re on the inside it doesn’t really matter. In addition to the headset are straps that go across the arms, legs, and waist, and gloves. And the entire system can supposedly be set up quickly anywhere on the spot. Gaming and experiences like virtual amusement parks are the initial applications, of course, but Bushnell and Crawford are inviting developers to go wild and come up with whatever applications they can. Possibilities include education, tourism, military and police training, and much more.
Think about it. As kids we would all go in the backyard and pretend to fight battles like in Star Wars. The next generation could do the same thing but actually be able to see and hear the things we could only imagine. And that’s just the basics. If you’ve sidelined yourself to chasing VR as a career because of the slow going, your moment may finally be here. Modal VR might be the virtual reality job you’ve been dreaming of.