To experience what it feels like to fly with wings of your own, you're gonna need a little something more than a headset. You're gonna need the wind in your face. You're gonna need to tap the olfactory system. You're gonna need wings, for that matter.
Created by a team of four artists and set up at the Zurich University of the Arts, Birdly is an installation comprised of what appears to be a series of massage tables with house fans bolted to them. What these strange rigs are, in fact, are virtual bird bodies. Lying on the cushioned tables with an Oculus Rift strapped to your face, you're transported into the body of a Red Kite, soaring over the virtual landscape.
This being a bird simulator, you need to flap the wooden wings that your arms are strapped into. Fans simulate wind hitting your face. And smells ranging from "forest, soil, to several other odors of the wilderness" permeate the air to create the illusion of reality and dimension.
Birdly isn't the first of these complex VR controllers to get cobbled together, and we imagine it won't be the last either as developers explore the possibilities of immersive virtual reality experiences. With Sony and Facebook in the mix, virtual reality gaming really is right around the corner. Along with it, VR will bring a whole new sense of what it means to engage with our media. VR movies will put you right in the middle of the action, and games will let you step into worlds and roles you never could in real life.
To truly experience these VR worlds as if you were there, however, you'll need a little something more than just a headset and a controller. People have wanted to fly since the first time we saw a bird. Through virtual reality and physical simulators like Birdly, we can now really feel what flying is like. Someone hurry up and get us a vomit bag.