Oculus Rift and Kinect 'Vertigo Simulator' is totally terrifying
By hacking a bunch of gadgets -- and a fan -- together, it turns out you can convince a human it's about to die!
We're big fans of hacking different technologies together -- especially if the resulting contraption can convince a frail human body that it's about to die horribly.
Enter Inition's Vertigo Simulator, which uses the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset and Microsoft's Kinect to create a frightening virtual scenario, in which participants must walk across a skinny chunk of concrete between two skyscrapers.
I visited the company's London studio to give the setup a try -- click through the photos above to check it out, as well as several other virtual-reality treats on show.
Donning the Oculus Rift, a darling of the Kickstarter community that's currently still in development mode, I'm struck by how quickly the headset's sensors react to my movements. Next I'm asked to put on some headphones, which bring sound to the experience, and make it very tough to hear further instructions.
A Kinect sensor, mounted above, tracks my movement, while Unity software provides the pretend environment. Completing the setup, an electric fan blows air on me, bringing the sensation of a howling wind to the scenario.
The visuals aren't especially cutting-edge, but it's more than enough to fool my stupid brain, which immediately struggles to remember that I'm not really perched above a high drop, and wastes no time in firing up the adrenalin pumps.
Somewhere in the distance I can hear a voice saying something about keeping my arms out, but my attention is on maintaining balance. Just in time I extend my arms, to find I was about to clock my head on the opposite, real-life, wall.
While walking back along the virtual beam the software triggers a fall, and I tumble off the virtual skyscraper, my brain briefly overloaded with panic and a falling sensation. You can see a picture of that if you click through the photos above.
While I suspect it'll be a while before AR becomes a widespread, commonly used technology, the creepy demo is more than enough to convince me of its potential. Oculus Rift has previously been used to simulate having your head chopped off, and before leaving I was treated to a glove-sensor-scenario that featured a hand-amputating guillotine. Thanks, humanity.
Do you like the sound of virtual reality? Or are you not convinced? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.