Virtual: The Reality Click

Virtual: The Reality

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Now on BBC News, it's time for Click.


It's fun, but it's not going to change the world...


It's not going to change the world...


It wouldn't fit in as much as, say, my phone would.


Not really what you want to hear when you are talking about VR.


Especially since the technology has actually been around


This helmet is from the mid-1990s but it wouldn't be the first bit


of amazing looking tech to simply fade into novelty.


One of the problems is the media goes mad over it and then everything


gets overhyped - not that we would be guilty of course...


But the truth is, sometimes stuff gets overblown and the people


who buy the thing end up getting disappointed by the thing.


Well, this week, the BBC, in partnership with Ipsos Mori,


has published research into the reality of virtual reality.


16 ordinary people were given Samsung Gear VR headsets for three


months, and asked to use them in their free time at home.


And for any long-term observers of tech, the results


Actually finding your headset in the first place, it might be


shoved in a drawer or somewhere, under your bed, dust it off,


it might be dirty, it might not be totally clean.


Getting your phone and putting it into the headset,


if you have a mobile driven VR headset, and making sure


that the phone has high battery because that will often be


Finding the content to watch, the phone might overheat


You might fear family, friends or flatmates pranking


you as you are doing it so you will feel self-conscious.


Your hair might be messed up, or your make up, whatever.


And all of those various barriers come to be quite significant


behavioural hurdles to get people to do this.


These things just aren't ready for prime time yet.


They are not easy to use and they are not easy to share.


For example, as soon as I take this off my head,


it switches off to save power which means I cannot get something


going and then give it to someone else to enjoy.


It will switch off and they had to navigate to the content


That means I've ended up putting a sticker over the sensor so it does


not know when it's been taken off, which is stupid!


There's really no argument that VR can blow your mind.


But after those initial experiences, keeping people interested


Once they are exhausting the key experiences,


the novelty experiences around the roller-coaster rides,


and the horror experiences, those kinds of things,


then their enthusiasm ebbs away quite quickly.


And one of the reasons why people get bored is that there was not much


With VR content, I think there is a bit of a chicken


Obviously, to encourage more people to buy VR headsets,


it would be good to have more and more VR content.


But, it costs a lot of money to make and you don't necessarily


want to invest in making the content unless you are confident a lot


So, it is difficult to put a lot of money into something


if you do not know that people will buy the headset but then


to convince them to buy the headset, maybe you have to do that?


It's a problem that's also beset Blu-ray, 4K,


We've moved incredibly far in the last two is in terms


of what has been produced, but there was a lot


There is consumer uptake of headsets, technology needs to be


better for production tools to produce that.


All of these things are happening at once and incredibly fast,


This might explain why last week Facebook cut the price


of their Oculus headset for the second time.


It's a lot to shell out for something that might just end up


By reducing its prices, oculus will probably appeal to more


people who were already considering buying the headset,


but I'm not sure it will convince many people to buy it,


It still costs about the same as a games console.


And it's not just the price of the headset itself,


you need to have a pretty high-end machine to run these things on.


And even Sony, the company that provides a high-end PlayStation 4


with its VR headsets, which has sold 1 million


of the things, told us not to get too excited about it.


I think that, in the last six months to a year,


we have seen a little bit of overhyping of


We saw this as the start of a very long process of bringing VR


You will see a lot more technology innovation.


I think content makers, game makers, and others,


including folks making television programmes,


they are really only just starting to learn what the tools are to make


Everybody knows it will take some time before we produce really good


and compelling content, but we are inventing a new medium


here and that is obviously going to take time.


But unless we start somewhere, we will never do it.


So we need to wait a few years while you guys get it right,


so there is something worth watching?


You cannot develop anything unless it is in conjunction


with the audience too, say if we have no audience,


we would never be able to create something and make it really


It certainly seems that VR is struggling to become commonplace


in the home at the moment, but that is not the end


Mark has been to Hollywood to see VR that has been given


Here in Los Angeles, a company with a pedigree in movies


If the living room is not the best place for virtual


IMAX are most famous for giant cinema screens,


which is probably why the foyer in its new virtual reality


experience centre looks a bit like a cinema.


Here, players purchase tickets to try out a variety


Each one of these pods has got more than enough space in it for any


virtual reality experience that requires the player to move around


This space is, in effect, a modern version of a video games arcade.


Cables connecting the headset to a computer are fed overhead


to avoid the player tripping up on them.


So the game I am playing here is basically a wave shooter,


there are just waves and waves of robots attacking me,


From what I am wearing on my back, I can feel a little bit of rumbling


So far, so straightforward, but are some experiences


What they have built is a little bit of set here.


It is a tie in with the new Tom Cruise Mummy movie.


So I am sat on the side of the chopper, and it feels


like the helicopter has a little bit of movement to it as well.


There's a little bit of rumble underneath the seat.


So, it feels like the rumble of the helicopter blades.


While the helicopter effect is convincing,


the rest of the gameplay is a bit samey.


Spaces like this one at least allow people to try VR


without all of the mess of having VR kit in the living room.


But, taking this experience to the next level need even more


room, and for that, we have to travel to a state


which is all about wide-open spaces...


Scottsdale's Octane Raceway is the home of the first large-scale


VR space in America, from a company called Zero Latency.


The key with this next level VR is in here.


The thing is, when you put on a VR headset, this empty space becomes


a gigantic virtual canvas, on which you can paint


64 cameras track the player's movement, with the grid on the floor


assisting and allowing the computer running the show to know


So, I'm suited up and ready to go, I've got my virtual reality headset


on, which has got tracking balls on top of it so be system


in there will actually know where I am in the virtual space.


On my back is a computer, with all of the cables


between the headset and the computer hidden so that I will have total


freedom of movement when I am in the room.


Zero Latency is the brainchild of a team based in Melbourne,


It's almost a brief escape from reality, but in the sense that


you are transported to a different place.


We find that the more games incorporate walking,


and the sense of moving through a much larger virtual space,


than the physical space, that seems to ramp up the immersion.


The game I'm playing today is called Zombie Survival,


and I'm equipped with a rifle which will provide the physical


sensation of being fired when I pull the trigger,


as I try to ward off hordes of zombies.


I'm supposed to repair barricades, preventing the undead from getting


close to me as I wait to be rescued by a helicopter.


Unfortunately, I get a bit carried away.


I can see zombies coming at me from every single direction!


So, it's time to recruit extra troops.


Up to six people can play in here at once.


You cannot do this in your living room at home.


Moving around with this much space with a whole bunch


OK, so attempting that with a whole bunch of people made it


I got by with a little help from some friends.


This little fellow is called Sea Turtle.


Facebook revealed it will lodge a new service in October. Allowing


publishers to create a pay wall to their content. If you've still got a


MySpace account lurking around, it might be time to think about


deleting it. A massive security flaw might mean others may be to get


access. Steps, long the enemy of the Daleks, have claimed another victim.


So, humans took the only logical next step. This one sent first


picture. And you will soon be able to visit the ISS for yourself. And


Google announced it will be available on Street view. Or is that


space view? This little fellow


is called Sea Turtle. Designed to move, like,


you guessed it, a sea turtle, his arms are shaped


like the fins found in nature. He has been developed by researchers


at Arizona University to detect landmines, and sadly


for him, detonate them. Unsurprisingly, current deep


mining bots on the market, cost a pretty penny,


but Sea Turtle has been made Powered by a Raspberry Pi Zero


computer, this disposable device Not bad for a machine


that learns as it goes. And every time a robot makes a move,


it essentially gives itself some positive reinforcement, in terms of,


maybe I should try that again. If it gets negative,


or it does not do very well, in trying a new type of control,


then it is set negative reinforcement, then it does not try


that type of motion again. In reinforcing it, by giving it


good or bad feedback, it was able to learn


to walk upon its own. Not only could the lightweight


robot, potentially save lives here on earth, it could also


potentially be used to further One of our goals is to use this


in order to manufacture The idea is, rather than altering


the design of the robot here on earth, where we do not


have the environment, in which it is going to be deployed,


we can actually just ship the materials into space


and manufacture the robot Currently battery-powered,


Sea Turtle is fairly powered after about three hours of charge,


so researchers want to add solar cells to his back so that


he can charge himself. They also plan to manufacture


loads and alternate them, so swarms of bots working together


could quickly cover large areas. This robot is really good


at powering through sand, so not just landmines detection,


but applications such as farming, for anywhere where you do not want


a very expensive robot, interacting with very dirty


environments, this robot is very Back to virtual reality now


and I find myself in the immersive VR lab, in University


College London. Where the object is projected


onto the walls and floor, From the point of view


of my motion sensitive specs, though, the perspective is correct


and it actually looks, to me, like moving


through a 3-D world. Now, this research, actually


concerns how the environment feels, specifically if it really feels,


like this imaginary ball, It just feels, it is bouncy,


so as the ball hits the wall, I can feel it kind of


bounce back slightly. The secret is in the superfast


response time in the control. Although video generally looks


convincing if it runs at about 60 frames a second, your sense


of touch, is accurate to 1000th Any less and it will feel


like everything is spongy. As it is, the wall feels rock hard,


the walls in the foreground feel lighter, because I can


knock them over. This is great, because this


is one more step towards Where I will feel like I really am


in this virtual world. An alternative approach, of course,


is to use virtual reality technology in the actual world


that is around you. This is called augmented reality


and that is what Lara Lewington has I know many of you are eager to get


started with augmented reality, but let's show you


just how easy it is. Launched at Apple developer's


conference in June, the Apple AR kit It aims to make it easier


for creative coders, to get AR into their IOS apps


and games and developers have not wasted any time


in trying to kit out. There is the mouthwatering,


the mundane, the magical and a whole host of other amazing things,


prototyped on the platform. Apple says the AR kit could make it


the biggest AR technology platform After all, there are a lot of Apple


fangirls and boys out there. Nowhere more so than at Apple's


developer conference, where the audience were


suitably wowed by a hearty The director, Peter Jackson,


Peter Jackson, the Lord of the Rings, he is now really


excited about AR and to show you what he has in the works,


I am thrilled to introduce Wingnut Since this augmented reality,


you folks are in the shot too. Peter Jackson and his partner,


Fran Walsh, they had seen some AR demos of the hardware


and they were really excited about the creative possibilities,


and AR it is like a medium like no other, it offers so many


creative possibilities, Traditional storytelling


and entertainment concepts, and rolls around camerawork


and everything else, they don't necessarily work in AR,


so for the last year, we have been exploring that


and figuring out what is fun And of course, the question every


Lord of the Rings fan is asking right now, how long before


we have an augmented reality Lord I think it is an amazing


idea, there are so many I think, people would probably


love that experience, I don't know when we will see that


in people's living rooms, it is hard to judge how fast AR


will be, but we all know that it is coming over the next few


years and it will be exciting, These are the offices


of Amplified Robot, a London based studio specialising in VR and AR,


and they will be one of the first to get their hands dirty


with Apple's AR kit. There we go, yes, that looks


like a man who is walking around There are hundreds of areas that can


be brought to life with augmented reality, the medical field is one,


education for kids, entertainment, real estate, this is the promise


of augmented reality. These are some of the AR experiences


that Matt and his team have already created here without


using Apple's AR kit. Each app has to figure out


on its own how to attach its 3-D thing to the real world,


so lots of extra programming for developers and a consistent AR


experience between apps. Many of those apps rely on markers


to make the magic happen, that is either a special


image or normal pictures, like the images in this book


which the app then recognises Apple's AR kit uses a new technique


that does away with markers meaning Clearly this is still very early


days for AR as we know it, but with so many big


players like Google, Microsoft and now Apple


putting their weight behind the tech, our realities could be set


to get a whole lot weirder. I have had a stutter ever


since I was 16 years old. I don't let it get in my way,


in the way of things. Although a stutter is incurable,


Gareth has dedicated his Masters degree, to finding a way


to treat it as best he can I am creating a virtual


reality exposure therapy, and we are able to benefit


people who stutter and to Gareth is using a headset,


which has the ability to track eye movement, something that can


be severely affected The eyes can close, flicker


or fixate on a certain place and adjusting one's eye movement


is part of established speech By analysing the eye


movements of his subjects, Gareth is able to suggest similar


exercises and techniques and in the future, he hopes his


research might be used by speech I am a person who is in


the environment, if they see an animated avatar and can talk


to the avatar about a certain topic, their favourite holiday,


and over that time, I will be tracking their eyes and behaviours


and seeing what they do when they stutter, I will be


advising them what to do and how Gareth has previously used a more


basic headset to improve people's confidence, emulating a whole


audience for them to speak And although he is only addressing


the eye movement and not speech element directly, he hopes that this


research will be able to improve the confidence of those who stutter


and indeed those who do not. It is stories like Gareth's that


remind us that VR might not live or die just on its'


entertainment values. That is it from our VR Cave


here at UCL, don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter


throughout the week. Thanks for watching,


and we will see you soon. Although you may view that


as a somewhat hollow greeting once


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