Reading up on VR Spheres

No US road trip would be complete without a visit to Las Vegas, and so it was this summer we found ourselves in the deliciously unsalubrious Excalibur Hotel. Serene, sophisticated, refined, the Excalibur was none of these, a mish mash of worn-carpet kitsch and tired tourists negotiating wheely-bin sized suitcases around the garish ranks of slot machines.

Standing innocuously near the entrance were two black nylon spheres, a small braided rope separating them from the public. “Back later” said the sign, and we did indeed come back ten days later, following a round trip of the Grand Canyon. With a couple of hours to kill before our flight we found ourselves inexorably drawn back to the spheres and the virtual reality game they controlled.

As Ben played, I got chatting to the cashier-cum-founder of VirtuSphere. Turns out the principle has been around for a while, but technology is only just catching up, what with bandwidth requrements for 3D wireless headsets and all. Put simply, each sphere operates like a giant mouse ball, only in this case a human is being the mouse, encaged within the ball. To paraphrase Morpheus, the future is not without a sense of irony.

A bit of research tells me that VirtuSphere is not the only kid on the block. Here in the UK, the University of Warwick has also been developing a ‘cybersphere‘ for the past decade. No idea who patented it first (I’m sure we’ll find out) but it does beg the question about whether the virtu-cyber-sphere thing could have more mainstream uses, once the cost of entry drops beyond a certain point. I’m sure I’m not the first to consider how a transparent sphere might be used alongside an Xbox Kinect, for example.

And of course, the Inter Orbis connection with the two spheres did not go unnoticed…

Reading up on VR Spheres

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