Virtual Astral Projection

Ever wanted to feel the wind of Everest? Or maybe heat of the blow, while helping teammates to fight the enemy? Soon, in every household 🙂

Folks from the Ikei Laboratory of Tokyo Metropolitan University are developing a virtual body technology, which fools not only your vision and hearing, but also emulate smells, wind breeze and movements. It has been unveiled at the Digital Contents Expo 2012 in Tokyo last October and consists of a special chair, helmet and some weird cables 🙂

Virtual Astral Projection

To speak frankly, system does not allow input (at least at the moment). You have to relax and enjoy someone else’s feelings and not everyone can accept it. You are in other person’s body, so it is more like watching an “extra 3D movie” (these cinemas have funny names like 4D, 5D, 5D etc.), than playing a game yourself and control the result.

Or, it can be called a “virtual astral projection” as you kind of inhabit another person’s body, though cannot do any silly things.

They demonstrate in the video, how person experiences walking in Milan or running as athlete Usain Bolt. Not very clear though, how sitting position allows feeling 100-meter sprint run.. Guy talks about vibrations and how they can be passed to knees.. hm. And chair moves to provide directional and vestibular sensations. Anyway, seems they know what they are talking about.

Overall, construction looks like DIY gaming bay 🙂 It brings a deeper virtual experience and can be useful for people, who want to “travel” more. Those disabled or elderly can enjoy breathtaking view of Fuji or a tropical island, for example.

I think blending this technology and modern games is not so far away. Basic things like 3D video, sound and wind/heat are not so difficult to implement. Movement is the tricky part and I doubt this chair provides run emulation fair enough.