Immersis, a Pixar-inspired projector that beams VR into an entire room

[This is reminiscent of Philips’ Hue and Microsoft’s IllumiRoom… the story is from Wired, where you can find several more pictures. –Matthew ]

Immersis projector

A Pixar-Inspired Projector That Beams VR Into an Entire Room

By Joseph Flaherty
February 12, 2015

Virtual reality can make you feel like you’re high atop the Wall in Westeros, flying like a bird, or running from an alien intent on killing you, but to everyone else, you look like a spaz flailing about in high-tech ski googles. This makes demonstrating a head-mounted display like the Oculus Rift difficult in a group setting. You can set up a monitor that displays what you’re seeing, but the result is an underwhelming pair of screenshots. Hardly the immersive experience VR promises.

That’s the insight behind a slick projector called Immersis that demonstrates the panoramic power of VR en masse.

Immersis’ projector was designed to look like a cross between the Pixar lamp’s evil twin and a tripod from the War of the Worlds. Its single fish-eye lens beams a 180 degree VR experience into an interior space. Instead of a pair of small, stereoscopic images, your entire field of view is filled with immersive scenes from a virtual world. It can’t provide the simulation of three dimensions that someone wearing the googles enjoys, others in the room experience a scene that spills off the screen and onto walls, doors, the dog, and anything else in the room.

The goal is to foster the expansion of VR while making it less solitary. There are entire genres of party games that wouldn’t port well to virtual reality; Immersis helps cross that chasm.

[…] Its industrial design is slick, but the setup process is a little clunky. To get the most impact from the system, users have to create a 3-D model of the space where the HMD and Immersis will be used. Only then can it apply anamorphosis algorithms to distort the video game graphics so that they’ll look correct when projected onto irregular walls and objects.

The creators of Immersis realize creating a 3-D model of a rec room will be beyond the skills of most people, so they limit the number of gamers who can take advantage of this technology. A stretch goal for the project’s Kickstarter campaign promises an automated solution that can scan spaces automatically so it can be used without a 3-D model.

APIs will allow designers to incorporate Immersis technology into games, but its creators found that many titles with panoramic scale, like Call of Duty or SkyRim work with Immersis, no tweaking required. “It took a few hours for us to develop a new interface and now all those games can benefit instantly from Immersis immersive capabilities,” says Daniel Duhautbout, co-founder of Catopsys, makers of Immersis.

The Kickstarter campaign for Immersis makes a point of warning backers about where the project now stands. “Our Kickstarter backers are more than just buyers or product testers. You will be the explorers of the next immersive technology and you will help change the immersive experience from what we know today.” Which sounds like a fancy way of saying “prepare for a long beta.”

Regardless of whether Immersis succeeds at delivering on its promises, the project does call out a need for new kinds of furnishing as gamers settle down and make their hobbies central to their homes. “In the ’90s, adult gamers were stereotypically unsociable and geeky men living in their parents’ basement. Things have changed drastically since then—some people play more, some play less, but everyone plays games,” says Duhautbout.

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