Homemade holodeck inches gaming closer to virtual reality

We know, 3D sucks and you want a holodeck. Well, until gaming systems with head, body and button tracking are affordable enough to mass produce, a Star Trek holodeck is but a dream. Unless, that is, you've got the chops and can go out and build your own holodeck with hacked-together hardware — like these guys from the University of Southern California did.

Building a holodeck is an ambitious undertaking, but where there's geek will, there's a way. Dubbed "Project Holodeck," a team of university technologists have hacked together an Oculus Rift headset, Razer Hydra motion controller and a PlayStation Move to create a 360-degree virtual reality system that is "true immersion in a virtual world with simulated peripheral vision."

The player gets a stereoscopic 3D image with a 90-degree horizontal field of view and a 105-degree vertical field of view. Its makers say it puts the Sony HMZ-T1 "to shame".

There's even haptic feedback, in the form of fans linked to the game server. These are designed to simulate the wind blowing in your hair as you pilot a vehicle.

So far, Project Holodeck's creators have built a Unity-based engine called Wild Skies where two players steer an airship with their hands and activate weapons using gestures and button inputs.

Project Holodeck's producer James Iliff is realistic about the possibilities of an immersive virtual reality system, though, saying it's "more of an arcade experience, because the space required is larger than the average space available in a consumer's home."

The video below shows a dramatization of the holodeck's potential use with Sega's Skies of Arcadia. It's not an actual real-time demo.

If Illiff is to be believed, you should be able to see the team's holodeck in action — for real — at upcoming Maker Faires, IGF and other conventions. We'll hold his word to him, if it doesn't materialize in some kind of public form.

Update: More info can be found on Project Holodeck's official website as well as enlightening interview nuggets over at Road To VR.

Project Holodeck, via Road To VR, via Eurogamer, via The Verge

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