The multiple user VR system lets you physically interact and collaborate freely in a virtual reality space.
Searching for clues and solving puzzles with friends all locked together in a room seeking a key is the name of the game for “Escape Rooms,” and there is no end in sight for the rising popularity of these group outings. Even if escape rooms are a fad, the draw of being immersed in an interactive journey with friends as a fun social experience will never go away.
Fast forward to Sundance this week and we may have glimpsed the future of escape rooms – virtual reality.
Geneva, Switzerland based Artanim has developed new technology that allows users to experience, physically interact, and collaborate in a virtual 3D environment using motion capture technology. Dubbed “Real Virtuality,” the multi-user experience is being showcased at the Sundance Film Festival in the New Frontier program.
We were the first to discover early experiments coming out of this Swiss research company where they showed exploring virtual chambers of a Pharaoh Tomb while holding a torch and key. Although similar in some ways, the latest Real Virtuality experience at Sundance is an epic new level of advancement.
The VR demo video below shows off some of the interaction elements and the unique ability to wirelessly track two users physically in the same space.
In the magical world of Real Virtuality, you and another user will find yourselves on a virtual reality space station in search of a totem to use as a teleportation machine to travel in space and time. The entire time a voice feeds you directions into your headphones, just like the loudspeaker voice in an escape room! You can look down at your own body and hands – physically move them and they move in virtual reality. You pick up a totem off the floor, actually feeling it in your hand, insert it into the teleportation machine and bam you’re ready to explore new worlds. Your goal is to find a magic stone at the end of the journey, crossing over a precarious wooden walking bridge, freaking out over spiders crawling up walls, this all seems very real. Finally you found the magic stone and have completed your mission. Virtual high five with your friend.
It all seems very convincing. Four years of research undertaken by Artanim has led them to the launch of this “matrix-like” degree of immersion over a large area, up to hundreds of feet square is possible. In this case, 12 Vicon infrared cameras are spread throughout the space, users don an Oculus Rift headset, sensor dots cover key body parts. All of this is powered through a backpack that communicates wirelessly, keeping you unhindered from wires that can trip you up when walking in such a large space.
Yes this technology can take escape rooms to the next level, but the creative opportunities this presents for studios and brands is mind blowing. As technologies devoted to visualization and experiences such as VR become mainstream in the near future, immersing users even further and convincing them they are in a real environment that has mobility, tangibility, and is also a social experience is as close as we can get to a holodeck for now.
Artanim has plans to commercialize Real Virtuality with installations at theme parks around the world. So get ready, VR escape rooms may be closer than we think. Let’s just hope you’re not afraid of heights, or spiders.
Photo Credit: Artanim