So the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset can trick your mind into believing you’re occupying a virtual world, but that immersion will always be broken by the fact that you’re still controlling your movements with some sort of handheld controller. The Virtualizer aims to change all that: it’s a full-body joystick that allows gamers to run, jump, aim and shoot in their games by using their bodies, exactly as they would in real life.
Gamers hook themselves into what is essentially a platform, securing themselves in place with harnesses and a moveable ring that surrounds their bodies. They stand on a base-plate with a level of friction that’s just right for use in socks and a handy arm extends upwards that holds the cables running to their VR headset, providing total freedom of movement.
Crouch, touch, engage
Sensors attached to the platform relay movement information to games, translating your motions into the equivalent of pressing forward on the analogue stick or ducking/jumping/aiming/shooting. The company behind it (Cyberith) put up a pretty cool video showing people using it to play Outlast, World of Warcraft and Battlefield with VR goggles, and the principle appeared to work pretty well. Like so:
They’ve also built-in a bit of haptic feedback that rumbles the base-plate when things like grenade explosions happen in-game for a bit of added immersion.
The Virtualizer is currently on Kickstarter, and its designers are asking for $250 000 to finish it and get it into the shops. The campaign has 33 days to go and it’s already almost there: at the time of writing 326 people have contributed a total of $214 377. If you want one, the minimum contribution that’ll get you a full Virtualizer with sensors is now $749, so just over R8 000.
Lazy > Full body immersion
Personally, I’m not going to rush out and buy one. A VR headset, definitely, but the reason I like gaming is because it doesn’t require me to stand up, run, crouch or raise my arms holding a weapon to shoot stuff, or swing at enemies holding the equivalent of a club or a sword. That’s hard work, man, and I’m a sedentary kind of guy.
[Source, Image – Kickstarter]