Holographic Technology and Virtual Reality on the Horizon

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

It’s no secret that I’m a huge Star Trek fan, and one of the technologies my husband and I desperately want to see become a reality is the holodeck. While it might not be exactly a holodeck, Microsoft’s hololens technology moves us one step closer. These are virtual reality glasses that seem to create a 3-D environment for the viewer.

I’m going to include two videos below. If you’re short on time, just watch the first one. The second one is a TED Talk, and it’s long. Or you can just skip the videos and come back to my thoughts on this and storytelling in the future below the videos 🙂

The growth in this area of technology has implications for how we’ll consume our entertainment in the coming years.

For writers, it means we may eventually have another avenue where we can sell rights to our existing properties. Susan Kaye Quinn, for example, has had her work optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. I suspect, though, that producing a book for virtual reality will be expensive for the foreseeable future, and so selling your virtual reality rights will be about as common as selling movie rights.

As a reader, I’d never want to replace the reading experience with virtual reality, but it would be a fun way to experience stories I already enjoy. My concern is that this could eventually replace 2-D movies, which will be a sad day for me if it turns out that I react to virtual reality as well as I react to 3-D movies (which is to say, not well at all).

What do you think? Are you excited about the possibilities for virtual reality?

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How Close Are We to Having Star Trek Holodecks?

By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

If there’s one thing every science fiction fan wants, it’s a Star Trek holodeck.

For those of you who don’t know, a holodeck is a simulated 3-D environment filled with holograms. In other words, it’s like being inside a movie while watching it. You can also be a character in the story if you’d rather. The holodeck is completely immersive, allowing you to touch, smell, see, taste, and hear the holodeck environment as if it were real.

And we might not be that far away from getting it.

In December 2012, the University of Illinois created CAVE2, a hybrid reality environment that was basically 3-D glasses and a circular wall of high definition television screens. They touted it as the closest we’ve come to the technology seen in Star Trek. You can see the trailer they created for it below.

And while I’ll admit that it looks pretty cool, it’s not the closest we’ve come. That honor goes to a simulator created by The Gadget Show a year earlier.

The hosts built their “holodeck” environment around a first person shooter video game. (In a first person shooter game, the screen already works so that what you see on the screen is supposedly what your “character” in the game sees. You are the character rather than watching a character move from an outside perspective.)

They installed a multi-directional treadmill to allow the player to run, and motion sensors so that when you jump or crouch, the game moves forward in kind. Paintball guns shoot the player when their character in the game is shot. LCD lights, surround-sound speakers, and a wrap-around screen make them feel like they’re right inside the game. It’s not exactly a holodeck, but it’s pretty close. 

The Gadget Show doesn’t allow their videos to be embedded so I can’t share it here. If you’d like to watch the whole thing, you can see it on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eg8Bh5iI2WY&feature=player_embedded. It’s well worth the time.

If you could play a character from one of your favorite books, who would you want to be?

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