Opening the doors of perception

From ancient Rome to inside King Tut’s tomb or smiling with the Cheshire Cat, Inside Real Virtuality offers endless possibilities, writes ALLAN MOSES RODRICKS

January 24, 2017 03:39 pm | Updated 03:39 pm IST

Imagine a not-so-distant future when you go to see the latest in the Star Wars franchise and you don’t just sit in the theatre and watch, but also don a special gear and become one of the characters in the movie. You could be Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia or even Darth Vader! Welcome to the future of virtual cinematography and more.

Pioneered by ‘Inside Real Virtuality’, an immersive multi-user platform that combines a 3D environment and motion capture technology with a real-life set-up experienced through a Virtual Reality headset and gear, this could very well be the means to make the matrix come alive.

The set-up consists of a space surrounded by motion capture and 3D body-scanning technologies that interface multi-users to interact with their virtual avatars, move physically in the virtual environment and handle real objects to complete tasks and explore in the virtual world.

Hosted in Bengaluru by Swissnex India at Shoonya Centre for Art and Somatic Practices, this ground-breaking technology is the brainchild of Artanim, a motion capture development and promotion company, based in Geneva, Switzerland, created in 2011 by three motion capture specialists, Caecilia Charbonnier, Clementine Lo and Sylvain Chagué.

Caecilia says the idea is to immerse the person as much as possible. “We successfully fool your brain into thinking everything is real. So when you interact with the environment and the other person, you have the impression that it is real.”

While Virtual Reality is nothing new, Caecilia points out that they wanted to do something different, since most of the VR experiences usually involve sitting or standing in one place with a headset or a joystick to move in the virtual world.

“That is the reason you sometimes experience motion sickness, because your vision is moving but you are in the same place.”

She goes on to say that they were already specialists in motion capture technology and had several projects working in the field. “That is the reason when the virtual reality headsets came out and the hardware was getting sold everywhere, we decided to step in and do something different and immersive using motion capture.”

This is just the start, Caecilia says. “The gaming industry will obviously be the most benefited. But it doesn’t stop there. There are so many applications. You can imagine exploring the design of ancient Egypt or studying the history of ancient Rome or even visiting the Taj Mahal. From archaeology to tourism, the possibilities are endless.” There is even architecture and construction application, where you can visit a building before you even build it. “That is what we did with our new offices last year. We made the 3D layout and visited it virtually. The space is so different to look at from a 3D immersive perspective, rather than a drawing on a 2D board. You can actually feel the space and it makes the experience realistic. VR will explode with this technology.”

Then, of course, there are movies. “The future of cinema may be an immersive experience, where you become part of the movie in a virtual world story.” While the application will definitely be a boom in the gaming arena, Ceacilia emphasises that they wanted to do something that is inclusive for everyone.

“We wanted a set-up that is more on the exploration and storytelling side, so it reaches more people. However, we can go much further. Like a time machine, VR is perfect to explore worlds that are unrealistic and beyond expectations. One of my desires is to create an Alice in Wonderland set-up for people to experience their own adventure,” she beams.

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