Saturday, May 11, 2013

Omnidirectionla treadmill

Some months ago, the virtual reality group at the Humanities lab went to visit a company called MSE in Älmhult. They specialize in training setups for virtual environments and they have developed an interesting product that is a sort of an omnidirectional treadmill. So the user can control moving around in a virtual world just by walking or running. There is no need for any interaction devices such as mouse, keyboard or game controller, at least not as far as moving around in the virtual worlds is concerned.
Their setup was a cylindrical projection surface around the treadmill. They also used a simple tracking device that required a small wireless transmitter attached to the user.
The obvious drawback with a device like this is of course that it can only be one user at the time, which probably means that museums won’t be that interested in it. Another drawback that became very clear once we started to try it out, was that it was really loud. MSE told us that it could be soundproofed, but there will still be considerable noise from it. 
We also tried a head mounted display that was surprisingly good. They told us that the new version of that particular head mounted display will be released in June and it will be wireless with a weight of only 350 grams. Imaging combining a head mounted display with the omnidirectional treadmill. Then you wouldn't need any other projection device and could walk around in a virtual world for quite some time.

It was a great day and we really had a lot of fun trying out their stuff. We hope to be able to collaborate with MSE a lot in the future.