The two year accelerator program is guiding and investing in several projects that could potentially break new ground in VR.
While developing for virtual reality can be an exciting and rewarding experience, it’s also anything but easy. Thankfully there are various accelerator programs, incubators and developer centers full of amazing teams committed to supporting virtual reality developers and their wild ambitions. One group in particular, LUMO Labs, is supporting the development of two specific projects with the potential to leave a lasting impression within the virtual reality industry for years to come.
LUMO Labs founder and serial entrepreneur Andy Lürling let me in on some secrets revealing much more about these two exciting VR experiences currently in development. The first of which delivers intricate real-time full body technology via a simple, easy-to-use set-up.
VRee created a platform for real-time wireless full body natural motion and behaviour in VR. The VRee technology contains proprietary algorithms which optimize (third party) mocap suits and other VR peripherals to provide immersive full body virtual reality experiences without using line of sight technologies.
The company behind the software is teaming up with various 3rd party manufacturers of motion capture suits such as Xsens, Rokoko and PrioVR to provide the tools necessary to bring the experience on a tour to locations across the U.S. Andy stressed how he believed this is the future of multi-person virtual reality experiences, a platform he referred to as “VR 2.0.” And after hearing more about the current technology and its intended uses, I was inclined to agree with him.
When I inquired about the biggest challenges in developing the software, Andy explained the difficulties in preventing the drifting of motion capture suits while in the experience, but was quick to point out how these issues have actually already been solved. Running at 2,500 hertz with a latency of 5 milliseconds, VRee is effectively future-proof, providing a platform intended to support various types of motion suits, gloves, peripherals and headsets. The result is a feeling of natural movement unlike any other experience on the market.
Andy went on to explain the many practical functionalities of the multi-faceted software. Currently VRee offers a competitive multiplayer disk-throwing game as a sort of proof-of-concept demo, with support for multiple high-end VR experiences created by 3rd part developers on the way. Various genres such as escape rooms, Mission Impossible-style adventures, training simulations for crucial public servants like firefighters and EMT’s, even product design and presentation for brands and other marketers.
Other potential uses include art ,music and support for accurate simulations of traditional sports in the form of monitored training regiments. For example, the software could provide real-time feedback to tennis professionals, measuring their grip strength and analyzing stance. Andy seemed particularly excited with the concept of eSports, teasing some exciting upcoming meetings with major companies as well as big plans for late 2017. Spectators can even view in-game live streams via PC, tablet, smartphone or HMD. There is a viewer voting system that could affect players in the experience with game-altering bonuses and events. Think Katniss getting a corporate-sponsored support package while in the Hunger Games. Players can even match up against one another from different locations, creating an online network of multiplayer full-body VR experiences. Anyone up for a professional virtual reality shooter league? I sure as hell am.
The most exciting part however has to be the convenience. According to Andy, the lack of complex sensors and hardware make the normally painful act of breaking down and setting up the motion capture system a mere 30 minute operation. Making the system easy and accessible was a crucial objective for the VRee team as they hope to keep the experience from being too intimidating to businesses or other potential partners.
Another venture currently under the nurturing wings of Andy and LUMO Labs, Pillow’s Willow has developed an intriguing virtual reality game following a simple, yet important ideology: Not every VR game has to be a violent, wave-based shooter full of maniac robots or cliche zombies.
Pillow’s Willow is dedicated to bringing nonviolent, dreamscape adventures to VR users, breaking a long streak of VR shooter and horror games by providing an experience enjoyable for all ages. The upcoming adventure is a puzzle-based meditative experience in which users explore the adventures of a collection of cute, gnome-like characters. Viewing the game from a ‘dollhouse’ perspective, users see the world and characters from a giants point-of-view giving each person and object a toy-like feel. You’ll explore the unique universes of each main character including Nerow, Pillow and an unannounced third character. The first universe is being revealed on Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR
With the Pillow’s Willow demo being named Best Dutch VR Game at the Bright VR Awards just last year and public reception positive, it’ll be exciting to try the full experience which will be available later this year. The game is expected to release on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, although Andy hopes to implement cross-platform support for multiplayer experiences.
These two projects, while exciting, are just a few small samples highlighting the ambitious reach of LUMO Labs. The organization is supporting a slew of other virtual reality ventures including the Manus VR gloves as well as popular Exit Reality operation. Dedicated to delivering virtual reality straight into the hands of the public, the initiative uses mobile pop-up trucks to bring the immersive tech to the streets in an attempt to keep VR “accessible, easy and appealing.” Andy says their services are so effective that 8/10 participants were attracted to the experience despite having never attempted virtual reality in the past. We actually got a chance to check out their awesome set up while at VRLA in Los Angeles and rest assured their booth was packed 24/7. Exit Reality is also helping promote Pillow’s Willow, so if you happen to see one of these futuristic ice cream trucks in your neck of the woods, do yourself a favor and check it out.
It’s an exciting time for Andy and LUMO Labs. The Netherlands-based crew has their hands full with an impressive amount of projects on the horizon. But honestly it sounds like the busier Andy and his team are, the better it is for us VR fans.