Virtual: The Reality Click


Virtual: The Reality

What is the truth about virtual reality? Next big thing, or next big flop? Click checks out VR's future and takes out zombies in a VR version of the holodeck.


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

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

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

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

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

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Especially since the technology has actually been around

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

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of amazing looking tech to simply fade into novelty.

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

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

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

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

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

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has published research into the reality of virtual reality.

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16 ordinary people were given Samsung Gear VR headsets for three

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting your phone and putting it into the headset,

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

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that the phone has high battery because that will often be

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Finding the content to watch, the phone might overheat

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You might fear family, friends or flatmates pranking

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

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

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And all of those various barriers come to be quite significant

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behavioural hurdles to get people to do this.

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

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

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

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

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going and then give it to someone else to enjoy.

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

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

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

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

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But after those initial experiences, keeping people interested

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Once they are exhausting the key experiences,

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the novelty experiences around the roller-coaster rides,

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and the horror experiences, those kinds of things,

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then their enthusiasm ebbs away quite quickly.

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

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

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Obviously, to encourage more people to buy VR headsets,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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of what has been produced, but there was a lot

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There is consumer uptake of headsets, technology needs to be

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better for production tools to produce that.

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

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This might explain why last week Facebook cut the price

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of their Oculus headset for the second time.

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

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By reducing its prices, oculus will probably appeal to more

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people who were already considering buying the headset,

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

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It still costs about the same as a games console.

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

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

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

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with its VR headsets, which has sold 1 million

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

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

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we have seen a little bit of overhyping of

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

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You will see a lot more technology innovation.

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I think content makers, game makers, and others,

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including folks making television programmes,

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

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

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and compelling content, but we are inventing a new medium

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here and that is obviously going to take time.

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

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

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so there is something worth watching?

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You cannot develop anything unless it is in conjunction

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

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

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It certainly seems that VR is struggling to become commonplace

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

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

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

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If the living room is not the best place for virtual

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IMAX are most famous for giant cinema screens,

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which is probably why the foyer in its new virtual reality

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experience centre looks a bit like a cinema.

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Here, players purchase tickets to try out a variety

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

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virtual reality experience that requires the player to move around

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

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Cables connecting the headset to a computer are fed overhead

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to avoid the player tripping up on them.

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

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there are just waves and waves of robots attacking me,

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

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So far, so straightforward, but are some experiences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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While the helicopter effect is convincing,

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the rest of the gameplay is a bit samey.

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Spaces like this one at least allow people to try VR

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

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

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

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which is all about wide-open spaces...

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

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

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The key with this next level VR is in here.

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

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a gigantic virtual canvas, on which you can paint

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

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assisting and allowing the computer running the show to know

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

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

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

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

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

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freedom of movement when I am in the room.

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

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

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you are transported to a different place.

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We find that the more games incorporate walking,

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

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

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

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

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sensation of being fired when I pull the trigger,

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as I try to ward off hordes of zombies.

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

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

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Unfortunately, I get a bit carried away.

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

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So, it's time to recruit extra troops.

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Up to six people can play in here at once.

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You cannot do this in your living room at home.

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Moving around with this much space with a whole bunch

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

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I got by with a little help from some friends.

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This little fellow is called Sea Turtle.

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

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

:12:33.:12:38.

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

:12:39.:12:47.

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

:12:48.:12:56.

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

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

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

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

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space view? This little fellow

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is called Sea Turtle. Designed to move, like,

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

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

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at Arizona University to detect landmines, and sadly

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for him, detonate them. Unsurprisingly, current deep

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mining bots on the market, cost a pretty penny,

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

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computer, this disposable device Not bad for a machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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good or bad feedback, it was able to learn

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to walk upon its own. Not only could the lightweight

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

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

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in order to manufacture The idea is, rather than altering

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

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

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we can actually just ship the materials into space

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and manufacture the robot Currently battery-powered,

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

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

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he can charge himself. They also plan to manufacture

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loads and alternate them, so swarms of bots working together

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could quickly cover large areas. This robot is really good

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at powering through sand, so not just landmines detection,

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

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a very expensive robot, interacting with very dirty

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environments, this robot is very Back to virtual reality now

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

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College London. Where the object is projected

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onto the walls and floor, From the point of view

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

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and it actually looks, to me, like moving

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

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

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

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

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bounce back slightly. The secret is in the superfast

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response time in the control. Although video generally looks

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

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

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

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the walls in the foreground feel lighter, because I can

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knock them over. This is great, because this

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

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

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is to use virtual reality technology in the actual world

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that is around you. This is called augmented reality

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

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started with augmented reality, but let's show you

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

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

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for creative coders, to get AR into their IOS apps

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and games and developers have not wasted any time

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in trying to kit out. There is the mouthwatering,

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

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

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

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

:18:33.:18:41.

developer conference, where the audience were

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suitably wowed by a hearty The director, Peter Jackson,

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

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

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I am thrilled to introduce Wingnut Since this augmented reality,

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

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

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and they were really excited about the creative possibilities,

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

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creative possibilities, Traditional storytelling

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and entertainment concepts, and rolls around camerawork

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

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so for the last year, we have been exploring that

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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years and it will be exciting, These are the offices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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of augmented reality. These are some of the AR experiences

:20:29.:20:30.

that Matt and his team have already created here without

:20:31.:20:34.

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

:20:35.:20:36.

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

:20:37.:20:40.

so lots of extra programming for developers and a consistent AR

:20:41.:20:46.

experience between apps. Many of those apps rely on markers

:20:47.:20:49.

to make the magic happen, that is either a special

:20:50.:20:52.

image or normal pictures, like the images in this book

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

:21:00.:21:02.

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

:21:03.:21:09.

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

:21:10.:21:14.

players like Google, Microsoft and now Apple

:21:15.:21:19.

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

:21:20.:21:23.

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

:21:24.:21:35.

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

:21:36.:21:57.

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

:21:58.:22:08.

Gareth has dedicated his Masters degree, to finding a way

:22:09.:22:11.

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

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reality exposure therapy, and we are able to benefit

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people who stutter and to Gareth is using a headset,

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

:22:26.:22:29.

be severely affected The eyes can close, flicker

:22:30.:22:31.

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

:22:32.:22:36.

is part of established speech By analysing the eye

:22:37.:22:40.

movements of his subjects, Gareth is able to suggest similar

:22:41.:22:52.

exercises and techniques and in the future, he hopes his

:22:53.:22:54.

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

:22:55.:22:58.

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

:22:59.:23:02.

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

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

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

:23:09.:23:11.

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

:23:12.:23:15.

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

:23:16.:23:30.

audience for them to speak And although he is only addressing

:23:31.:23:32.

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

:23:33.:23:43.

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

:23:44.:23:47.

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

:23:48.:23:50.

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

:23:51.:23:54.

entertainment values. That is it from our VR Cave

:23:55.:23:57.

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

:23:58.:24:05.

throughout the week. Thanks for watching,

:24:06.:24:07.

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

:24:08.:24:34.

as a somewhat hollow greeting once

:24:35.:24:38.

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