Once upon a time Star Trek's holodeck was the stuff of pure science-fiction, but as with pretty much like everything else envisioned in the franchise, it's fast nearing reality. The Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany has taken the virtual reality Oculus Rift headset to the next level -- by making it wireless, operational in real time in a room full of infrared cameras, and allowing the user to walk arond -- in order to simulate travel and experiences in virtual environments.
"It's exactly the same technology which is used by the movie industry to do motion-capture for video games or big Hollywood movies," one of the Max Planck Institute scientists explains in a recently posted video. "They then have these suits on with the markers. And you probably have seen it if you've watched some of the making-of some of the DVDs or Blu-rays. You see them when they do this motion-capture, and that's exactly the same technology, but we're using it for real time -- and that's the big difference. Hollywood collects a lot of data. They do a lot of nice processing. We don't have a lot of time to process the data. We need it as fast as possible in front of your eyes. That's a better challenge, then."
The technology is still in its earliest stages. For example, there's a nausea factor to overcome. And, second, unlike Picard, Riker and Data, the average person can't yet interact with their environment. But we're sure they'll make it so soon enough.