Project Holodeck Creates "Accessible" Virtual Reality

Project Holodeck Creates "Accessible" Virtual Reality

A University of Southern California team presents the first holodeck gaming system.

Ever since we first saw Star Trek: The Next Generation's holodeck, we all knew on some level that it would one day become the pinnacle of art and entertainment. It may ultimately threaten our entire society, (see Ray Bradbury's The Veldt, or any Star Trek holodeck episode,) but by God, we simply cannot rest until we get our holodeck. While the ability to generate holograms themselves is fairly limited, a team from the University of Southern California is using a unique combination of gaming technologies to design the "deck" part of the equation. But the best part? It's all for playing videogames.

"The goal of Project Holodeck is to bring 360-degree 6-DOF full-body virtual reality out of the research lab and into a fun, accessible consumer gaming platform," said producer James Iliff. Combining an Oculus Rift headset for video feedback, a PlayStation Move for head tracking, and a Razer Hydra for body tracking, the system allows players to immerse themselves in a simultaneously virtual and physical playspace.

The principles behind the project are based on the team's previous virtual reality experience, but this time the goal is make a commercial product that the general public will enjoy. "We see Project Holodeck as more of an arcade experience, because the space required is larger than the average space available in a consumer's home," Iliff continued. "We plan on taking this to expos and festivals like Indiecade, Maker Faire, IGF, and others ... but in the long run we also want to reach home users with a simpler consumer system that can fit comfortably in the living room."

Of course, impressive hardware means nothing without an equally impressive game, so the Project Holodeck team has put together Wild Skies, a two-player game set on airship decks proportioned to the layout of the holodeck. "Both players must work together to control a complicated airship vessel while also firing turrets and cannons to fend off attacks from airborne enemies," Iliff explains. "Along the journey they visit exotic floating islands and encounter strange ships from small speeders to armadas. Each port they visit installs a new upgrade on the ship from more powerful sails to a battering ram." Wild Skies even features haptic feedback in the form of large fans, simulating the wind as your airship moves or changes direction.

I've never thought of myself as the kind of gamer that would like virtual reality games, but I have to admit that I'd like to try this out. One of the biggest things holding back these technologies is that while innovative, they tend to lack immersion thanks to bulky hardware or awkwardly designed motion controls. If the final version of the platform is fixes the immersion problems and launches with an engaging title, we might just have found the holodeck that everyone will get in line for.

Sources: Eurogamer, Road to Virtual Reality, Project Holodeck


Awesome. We're almost in the future now.
We just need to figure out the wall mounted keyboards.


So, can it create catgirls and traps? Because that would be cool.


Seriously, this looks really cool, especially since they're already building a game that looks like more than a cursory tech demo.

I'm confused was that video just a demonstration of what it would look like? 99% sure all the video scenes are scripted events from Skies of Arcadia...

What utter BS. Thats the cut scenes from skies of Arcadia on the dreamcast. What a lazy hoax.

So when do I get MY EMH to sing classical opera?

that still looks like incredibly old tech to me <.<

i'll settle for something like this

Bah. This is just a VR system. They have existed for years.

No, it's not just a VR system, this is an exagerated by Escapist VR system...

FFS, I have a VR920, head tracking 3D visuals and there are NO GAMES that support it. The tech is out there, but so few people have the money that nobody bothers making games that support this shit.
For this tech to go anywhere, there has to be an established standard, a standard head tracking interface that is fast enough to cope, and a standard 3D technology. Without that, these guys are pissing in the wind. It's so far away from holographic technology it's not even worth bitching about.
The best use of a VR920 I've seen is one guy who crammed a laptop into a rucksack, grabbed some nunchuck and wiimote controller, and setup Morrowind to play with that...

In fact, this one guys awesome homebrew VR kit shows more promise than that 'holodeck'.

Awesome game, awesome song, looks awesome - yet NOBODY IS INTERESTED IN MAKING VR GAMES!

The problem with virtual reality is that there is always going to be the issue of force feedback. If I'm playing a sword fighting game, I can hold a prop sword so that I have the heft and feel of swinging a sword, but there's nothing out there that can realistically simulate an enemy blocking/stopping my sword as I swing it. Making a holographic/3d image and having a device perceive my 3d motions is one thing, but giving me tactile feedback as I interact with it (... ladies,) is a much more difficult problem to solve.

As far as I can tell, it's simply not going to be feasible, until we develop to the point that we get matrix level technology. (plug your brain into a computer and have it stimulate all your sense to feel what you should be feeling)

Two Words - Microsoft Kinect.

It sucked due to the motion controls (and all round terrible games).

This will likely have the same issue. I'm optimistic though.

For those confused, the video was just a concept.

Yes it was a cut scene but the whole idea was, you do real physical things and things happen in the video game.

I always thought this would be really cool but I would rather have a really large area and obstacle course, or something.

I'm confused was that video just a demonstration of what it would look like? 99% sure all the video scenes are scripted events from Skies of Arcadia...

Well that sucks.

I know it was a little staged, I didn't realize it was THAT staged :'(

you've destroyed my dreams

I think people don't realise that this video wasn't actually a tech demo, but was meant to be a pitch to USC's advanced gaming classes to design the game for them.

In the comments the video creators clearly stated they didn't think press would pick up their video.

People need to give up on the holodeck dream, it's about as likely as flying cars and moving sidewalks. I would think the most basic of sniff tests when discussing future technology is to consider the natural resources, energy, and infrastructure required to implement the concept. Many things certainly could be done, but if the above is too high chances are it's not going to happen on a wide scale.

Maybe they can come up with the tech for a holodeck in the distant future, but unless you're rich you're not going to have one in your home. It's just not something that scales to everyday consumer use. At best they could make sort of arcades out of it, but having to pay $100 to get a few hours of game time every other week probably isn't what people are dreaming about when they think about having their own holodeck.

If there's anything feasible here it would be a neural interface VR system, because once you break that technological barrier actually building the thing won't require a lot of physical resources or energy consumption, and there'd be no real infrastructure requirements. Same reason why we have iPhones today and not flying cars or moving sidewalks that people in the 50's thought the future would be about.

The one thing I'm not seeing in this 'demo', and the main thing we really need to get working before we can start talking about virtual reality stuff is... tactile feedback. Get the sensation of pressing a button, or recoil from a gun, and then we can start talking proper immersion.

The first computer in the world was immediately put to work doing nothing but calculation tables for Artillery. If they get it working, the military will likely be the first customer. Not us.


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