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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gadgets, Games and Gizmos: Virtual Reality is Back

When I was in graduate school many moons ago, the big thing was virtual reality. The concept was that the learner would immerse him or herself into an environment and then interact with the environment. It was really over-hyped and never went anywhere.

It appears to me from recent events that virtual reality is a big way.

First I run into the idea of a helmut that reads your mind and sends commands to the video game you are playing, Interface Be Gone.

Then my friend, Gordon Snyder sends me this article from Business Week titled, The Mind-Bending New World Of Work. You need to read the article. There is also a podcast if you would rather listen and a great set of photographs and a video to accompany the article.

Here are some highlights:
  • Soon, anyone making a PowerPoint presentation to colleagues or business partners could operate the same setup as Tom Cruise in the Minority Report to control the slides and move through the presentation. The set up uses cameras to track hand movements and translate them into computer instructions. The presenter will have his or her hands in the air and the slides will progress. Not unlike the work by Jeff Han which I highlighted in What Interface?

  • Intel (INTC ) Corp. is developing a more advanced version of motion capture that will let people wave at their TV sets from across the room to turn up the volume or change channels—no gloves or sensor dots required. Within five years "you could use gesture recognition to get rid of the remote control," predicts Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner.

  • At the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Adidas has an electornic ad that perks up when people walk by. It responds to movements with a shower of shoes. The more people move, the bigger the deluge of shoes. "People don't ignore the ads—they want to play with them," says John Payne, president of Monster Media, which created the campaigns for adidas, Clorox, and Target. "It's like Willy Wonka."

  • At Lockheed visitors can be equiped—up to four at a time—with Virtual Reality headsets and suits dotted with motion-capture sensors. As the visitors enter a darkened 15-by-20-ft. area where 24 cameras track their every move, they "see" through their head displays the fighter prototype and lifelike avatars of one another. (can you say Holodeck?)

  • If you want to experience the beginnings of virtual reality, check out Nintendo's Wii system. The tennis, baseball and bowling are highly realistic and provide a great deal of fun and interesting game play.It is the first video game console system that my wife actually enjoys playing.

As designers of learning experiences, we are going to be busy determining the best instructional design strategies to apply to these exciting, seemless human/computer interfaces and when we combine these interfaces with 3D software, the instructional implications are staggering.

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Jim Gates said...

I recall going to PSU one time years ago to see a demonstration on Virtual Reality. The REAL reason I went was to see and hear the spokesperson - Dr Timothy Leary! Yes, THAT Timothy Leary.

During one break I went outside for a smoke (I've since quit back in '93) and who should join me and need a light? Dr Leary. What a gas that was talking to him about his vision for virtual reality - and who better to be the spokesperson? :-)

Karl Kapp said...


I habe to say that "having a smoke with Timothy Leary" would be awesome. Although I don't smoke, I might take it up if I could speak with him about virtual reality and his thoughts on the world, very interesting encounter...thanks for leaving the comment.

Umer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Umer said...

I agree with you Karl there are lots n lots of new devices poping up. A lot of reasearch is also being put in to it. Other then 3D world there is another kind of Virtual reality enviroment in 2D. You will have to visit for more details. These people have created a carbon copy of real world online.