Roomality: Window and wall-sized virtual reality without goggles or headsets

[A modern version of wall murals (e.g., those sold by wall26), Roomality’s virtual windows and walls use 3D and AI to create a compelling presence illusion without obtrusive headsets or even glasses. This story is from The Irish Times, where it includes a 1:41 minute video (also available via YouTube) and two more images. For more information, including a second video (also on YouTube), see the company’s website. –Matthew]

Irish entrepreneur promises VR experience without goggles or headsets

John Moore’s Roomality is developing ‘virtual windows’ solution

By Charlie Taylor
July 21, 2020

Tech entrepreneur John Moore, who sold his former company 3D4Medical to publisher Elsevier in a $50.6 million (€44.2 million) deal last year, has invested about €500,000 in his latest venture Roomality, which is developing a “virtual windows” solution.

Mr Moore personally netted over €24 million from the sale of the award-winning 3D medical technology company in November and has wasted no time spending the proceeds. His new start-up has developed an immersive solution that projects large-scale virtual images onto a user’s surroundings so that they can view the imagery without headsets, or goggles.

The technology, which is built using 3D and artificial intelligence (AI) tracks the user’s eyes as they move, making for a full interactive and immersive experience with objects rendered in real time. The end result is that the images appear close to real life, but can be viewed without the usual clunky paraphernalia that typically accompanies virtual reality (VR) experiences.

Transform

The tech can transform a space and provide what Mr Moore describes as an “instant mental retreat” with a selection of landscapes for users to relax, explore and enjoy.

From virtual tourism, to escapism, to conquering phobias, the possibilities for self-development with Roomality are infinite, he says.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to have a bit of money to do some research and development, and I started thinking about how when you’re wearing a VR headset, it knows where you’re looking because of the accelerometer inside the headset, Mr Moore told The Irish Times. “I started thinking about how great it would be if you could have a big screen that worked like a virtual window in that your view would change as you moved your head.

“We started using two cameras placed a metre apart so they are looking at what comes into the picture and, by also using artificial intelligence, we’ve been able to work out the midpoint between the eyes and where they focus. So if someone walks into the room, our system will recognise the face and where it is looking and so project scenes that you would see if you were looking out of a window,” he added.

Applications

It is impressive, but Mr Moore is the first to admit that, as yet, he doesn’t quite know what its key uses might be, or who might want to pay for it.

“What we have done is amazing but, from a cynical point of view, I can see how some people might well look at it as a solution to a non-existent problem,” he said.

Nonetheless, Mr Moore believes that, if he can get the price down on the technology, the film or games industry might be interested in using it to replicate backgrounds and integrating them in projects.

The technology could also lead to a radical overhaul in building design. Architects would no longer be required to design buildings that are tall and thin to ensure that each room has enough light. Having “virtual walls” fitted that display external scenes be it the city landscape, mountains, the sea and so on, could potentially address the issue of rooms that have little or no natural light.

Healthcare may also find a use for it. VR headsets are already used in some clinical settings to enable those experiencing memory issues to be transported to another time and place that can be a comfort for them.

Roomality recently issued a short video to showcase what it is doing with Mr Moore saying it had received great feedback with suggestions of how the technology might be used. He admits to being excited about being something from scratch again with a new team.

“We might go for external funding when we’re ready to have a proper commercial trial but right now I’m in a nice position of not needing to do that. It is fun just working on developing the technology, and seeing where this ends up,” he said.

3D4Medical

3D4Medical, which Mr Moore founded in 2004, specialised in the development of apps aimed at medical students, specialists and healthcare providers. Its apps had achieved over 25 million downloads across its product suites prior to the sale and had been ranked the leading medical app on the app stores of Apple, Microsoft and Google in 160 countries.

Apple previously used the company’s flagship Complete Anatomy app, which in itself has been downloaded more than 12 million times, to demonstrate at a showcase event in San Francisco at which it first debuted its iPad Pro. That app has replaced traditional textbooks and medical learning in over 300 of the world’s leading universities.

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