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Designers developing virtual-reality 'Cocoon'

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Designers developing virtual-reality 'Cocoon'

LONDON, England (CNN) -- You're walking along a street in Roman Pompeii at the start of the first millennium when you notice a spectacular stone building. You reach out towards it and your guide informs you it's a temple to the god Jupiter, built in 200 BC. With a flick of your wrist you save the data and, school assignment complete, you step out of your Cocoon and back into your living room.

The Immersive Cocoon could revolutionize the way we interact with computers.

Educational historical journeys are just one possible use of the Immersive Cocoon, a walk-in virtual-reality pod being developed by NAU, an international design collective that aims to revolutionize the way we interact with computers.

When complete, the Immersive Cocoon will be a sleek and shiny human-sized dome. Step inside and you'll be enveloped by a 360° display screen and full surround sound.

When the software boots up, instead of using a joystick or mouse to navigate the screens, motion-tracking cameras will follow the movement of your arms, legs and face, and a motion-sensitive platform will detect if you're walking or jumping.

"You've got display, sound and interaction all combined to create this fully immersed digital experience," explains Tino Schaedler, the architect-turned-film designer who is one third of NAU.

"It is completely different from me sitting in front of a screen, looking at a little picture and typing something in -- almost like the experience is reduced to my brain and my fingers. In the Cocoon we have the whole body immersed inside."

Videogame players will immediately recognize the Cocoon's gaming potential. The motion-tracking cameras and wrap-around visuals could make for an incredibly realistic gaming experience, where you use your whole body to fight off enemies who approach from all directions. But the Cocoon's potential extends far beyond gaming.

Imagine having a Cocoon in your home, connected to the Internet. Its unique interface means that rather than inputing commands with a keyboard or a moving a cursor with a mouse, you can simply reach out and 'grab' information from all around you.

If that sounds like science fiction, it may be because the 3D motion-tracking system was originally developed by John Underkoffler, whose work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology inspired similar 'reach out and grab' technology in the sci-fi movie "Minority Report."

NAU sees the technology as part of a trend away from traditional interfaces towards more intuitive ways of interacting with technology, a trend they say has already begun with existing mainstream devices such as the motion-sensitive controls of Nintendo's Wii gaming system or the touch-sensitive display on the iPhone.

Schaedler says the Cocoon could re-shape our working environments, allowing home working and virtual meetings where you could talk with virtual versions of your co-workers in detailed virtual environments.

He also envisages enhanced online shopping, with Web sites offering 3D shopping environments.

"Imagine Amazon.com being fully 3D. We could walk through a 3D space where you have all the books lined up, and you could walk right up to a book," he says.

Virtual shoppers might be able to take books off their shelves and read a sample, or even ask other virtual customers for recommendations.

The Cocoon also could be the perfect medium for interacting with virtual public spaces -- 3D renderings of libraries, museums and art galleries that can be visited online. Blazing a trail in the development of these spaces are New York architects Asymptote, who developed the New York Stock Exchange's 3D trading floor and have designed a virtual Guggenheim Museum.

Asymptote co-founder Hani Rashid explained to CNN that the Guggenheim Museum wanted its artworks to be viewable via the Internet. But rather than use a standard web site layout, the Guggenheim wanted to create a virtual space as striking as the architecture of its New York museum.

Asymptote came up with a futuristic design that Rashid describes as "a perfect hybrid of electronic space and physical space." Although the project is currently on hold, it offers a tantalizing glimpse of a future in which virtual spaces are designed with the same attention to detail as real physical buildings.

Rashid and Schaedler are a new breed of architect who are as comfortable in the virtual world as the physical, and they agree that as the Internet develops into a 3D medium, it will be architects who design the interactive virtual spaces.

Rashid says, "Ultimately, architects think spatially and where there's a spatial issue we're the ones trained historically to figure out how to make people understand and feel the emotional, physical and artistic side of a space."

NAU hopes to complete its prototype Cocoon by October 2009, with models commercially available by 2014. Initially, it's intended to be used in public spaces or to be leased by companies, until the technology becomes cheap enough for the consumer market. But where NAU are creating an escape from the real world, others are working on ways of merging virtual information with the real world.

Scott Fisher is the Chair of the Interactive Media Division at the University of Southern California. In the 1980s he helped develop the archetypal 'glove and goggles' virtual reality system at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Since then he has worked with Japanese mobile communications giant NTT Docomo on a kind of technology known as "augmented reality." Where virtual reality immerses you in an artificial world, augmented reality lets you go about your normal life, seeing the real world with additional information superimposed on it.

"You might be walking down a street in Tokyo and you could see information about a restaurant that you're walking by, or you might walk by a store and see information about what's on sale there," explains Fisher.

This kind of technology has been used for years in pilots' heads-up displays, but a personal augmented reality system requires some sort of portable display, such as a headset.

Prototype headsets were once cumbersome things you wouldn't want to wear in public, but modern designs are moving towards something resembling a regular pair of glasses and researchers are working on incorporating the technology into cell phones.

Fisher says "This kind of augmented reality is still pretty much in the research stage, but there are a few companies that are about to start marketing, so we'll see things coming out commercially in the next few years."

Whether our future reality turns out to be virtual or augmented, it certainly promises to be interesting.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/TECH/09/11/immersive.cocoon/index.html?iref=nextin



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I bet the military step in to take it for military training



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vaio said:

Imagine having a Cocoon in your home, connected to the Internet. Its unique interface means that rather than inputing commands with a keyboard or a moving a cursor with a mouse, you can simply reach out and 'grab' information from all around you.

If that sounds like science fiction, it may be because the 3D motion-tracking system was originally developed by John Underkoffler, whose work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology inspired similar 'reach out and grab' technology in the sci-fi movie "Minority Report."

...

"Imagine Amazon.com being fully 3D. We could walk through a 3D space where you have all the books lined up, and you could walk right up to a book," he says.

Virtual shoppers might be able to take books off their shelves and read a sample, or even ask other virtual customers for recommendations.

Okay, the whole virtual history thing sounded great, but the rest of it is pure garbage.

Why would you want to reach out and grab information when you could just use a mouse? A cursor is pinpoint accurate, but your finger is not. A mouse has a stable base and requires only small, precise movements. Physically "grabbing" information would require you to keep lifting your arms up, which would ultimately cause them to ache, and would be far less stable. It is a far more cumbersome and inefficient system than using a mouse. I said the same thing when I saw Minority Report. Technology is supposed to be about making life easier, but this would make things much, much more difficult.

The amazon.com comment is even more ridiculous. "We could walk through a 3D space where you have all the books lined up, and you could walk right up to a book." You mean like a fucking book shop!?! The reason Amazon is so successful is that it makes shopping much more convenient. All the functionality he mentions is already available at the click of a button, and he expects people to wander about in a (ridiculously expensive) "cocoon" to do the exact same thing. Given that you would not be able to take the book then and there, it is quite literally the worst of both worlds.

 



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@ played_out

"The amazon.com comment is even more ridiculous. "We could walk through a 3D space where you have all the books lined up, and you could walk right up to a book." You mean like a fucking book shop!?! The reason Amazon is so successful is that it makes shopping much more convenient. All the functionality he mentions is already available at the click of a button, and he expects people to wander about in a (ridiculously expensive) "cocoon" to do the exact same thing. Given that you would not be able to take the book then and there, it is quite literally the worst of both worlds."

Well said! Great sentiment there, couldnt agree more...

Its a bit why I am lost by some of these Wii games... soon we will have wiiwalk where you put the wiimote in your pocket and walk around a virtual room in your virtual house...!?!?



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kowenicki said:

@ played_out

"The amazon.com comment is even more ridiculous. "We could walk through a 3D space where you have all the books lined up, and you could walk right up to a book." You mean like a fucking book shop!?! The reason Amazon is so successful is that it makes shopping much more convenient. All the functionality he mentions is already available at the click of a button, and he expects people to wander about in a (ridiculously expensive) "cocoon" to do the exact same thing. Given that you would not be able to take the book then and there, it is quite literally the worst of both worlds."

Well said! Great sentiment there, couldnt agree more...

Its a bit why I am lost by some of these Wii games... soon we will have wiiwalk where you put the wiimote in your pocket and walk around a virtual room in your virtual house...!?!?

I unserstand your guys point of view but for me I would actually rather walk around in virtuall world the use a mouse. Maybe I would get tired of it and prefer the mouse once I experienced it but untill then I would hands down prefer this way or the minoroty report way.

The point with this article is more of how close we are getting to a VR world.

 



Vaio - "Bury me at Milanello"      R.I.P AC Milan

In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird.
Now the world is weird  and people take Prozac  to make it normal.

If laughing is the best medicine and marijuana makes you laugh

Is marijuana the best medicine?

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."

“If any creator has not played Mario, then they’re probably not a good creator. That’s something I can say with 100 percent confidence. Mario is, for game creators, the development bible.

I want it. Please let this thing become a great success so I can buy one in the future!



vaio said:
kowenicki said:

@ played_out

"The amazon.com comment is even more ridiculous. "We could walk through a 3D space where you have all the books lined up, and you could walk right up to a book." You mean like a fucking book shop!?! The reason Amazon is so successful is that it makes shopping much more convenient. All the functionality he mentions is already available at the click of a button, and he expects people to wander about in a (ridiculously expensive) "cocoon" to do the exact same thing. Given that you would not be able to take the book then and there, it is quite literally the worst of both worlds."

Well said! Great sentiment there, couldnt agree more...

Its a bit why I am lost by some of these Wii games... soon we will have wiiwalk where you put the wiimote in your pocket and walk around a virtual room in your virtual house...!?!?

I unserstand your guys point of view but for me I would actually rather walk around in virtuall world the use a mouse. Maybe I would get tired of it and prefer the mouse once I experienced it but untill then I would hands down prefer this way or the minoroty report way.

The point with this article is more of how close we are getting to a VR world.

 

I'm a big Amazon.com customer. I have been buying things from them for years, and most of my games, DVD's, and book purchases come from them these days. But I still occasionally prefer to go to actual stores to get these things. Why? Because there times I just want to browse. There are times I'm interested getting a new movie or game, but don't have a specific choice in mind. Where I want something to do over the weekend, but not sure what exactly.

Amazon and other online storefronts are absolutely great for when you know exactly what you need. You type it in, pay for it and wait a week. When I don't know exactly what I need or want, is when I'm more inclined to visit a brick and mortar store. Having entire aisles devoted to certain types of products standing shoulder to shoulder of the eye to see, is much better start pointing than clicking through lists of low resolution pictures.

When I'm feeling impulsive, having an entire display with games or DVD's, is a much better way to indulge my impulse than sorting through every single entry of a website, many of which might be pre-order/out-of-stock/discounted entries. On my last trip to my local Wal-Mart I was generally shocked to see tons of Wii games I'd never heard of, or seen before, despite following a lot of Wii news somewhat closely.

If I'm shopping for something like a phone, I'd want to get to a store and see how big they are in my hand, how do the buttons feel. If it's got a flip screen or extendable keyboard, I'll want to see how well that works in my hands. Measuring the dimensions listed on a website, and reading reviews isn't as informative as actually having a representation of the product in front of you to experiment with.

It’s because of things like this I don’t personally own a lot of games that are available only through download services. Not because they aren’t quality titles I’m interested in, they are, but I often got to find them out. I can scroll through entire longs lists of every game still available for download and wait for a few seconds for my browser to load it’s info, then wait a few more to go back and keep slowly. You can just accuse me of being lazy, but these are games, and as time continues to roll on, I find myself less interested tracking every little news bit on every title from a media I don’t like to begin with.

It’s the same reason things like Apple’s cover flow set-up for iTunes is popular amongst some people. Assuming you went through the annoying hassle of adding artworks to all your albums, it’s nice sometimes just to flip back and forth trying to decide on what to listen to, as opposed to scrolling down your entire library’s list.

If something like this “cocoon” being commercially viable in the future as a multiple use device like a computer. (A completely different topic and debate) An application like the example mentioned can potentially bridge the gap further between retail and virtual market. Obviously it’s a small example of something these people want to accomplish with VR technology, but it was probably listed to help demonstrate how something like this can be improve things for people that range from the grand adventures of movies or games, to the utterly mundane like impulsive shopping.

Also what’s with these comments that your arms will ache during light shopping, or your human finger isn’t precise? You people are starting to make me sound psychically fit by comparison. =P