Gadgets

You are now free to move about the ‘holodeck': Metaio gives virtual reality legs

Above: Metaio's new tech can anchor a virtual environment to a device's position and perspective.

Image Credit: Metaio

The future of virtual reality is not bound to a chair, so Metaio is encouraging folks to take a stroll.

The augmented-reality firm will today unveil its “6D Augmented Reality Holodeck” tech, which enables developers to anchor virtual environments to a device’s location and perspective in the real world, the company has revealed to VentureBeat. Metaio uses “simultaneous learning and mapping” algorithms in conjunction with a device’s motion sensors to bring physical depth to virtual environments, as demonstrated in the video below.

Metaio is releasing the “holodeck” tech today as part of its free software development kit, which supports iOS, Android, and Windows PC, among other platforms. Developers could build these kinds of experiences for wearable platforms that run on Android as well as tablets and smartphones — though standard mobile devices may work best for now.

“You’re immersed within the environment without losing reality,” Metaio marketing director Trak Lord told VentureBeat, referencing the practical benefits of keeping virtual reality off your face.

Lord said the tech would technically work with the Oculus Rift VR headset or Google Glass, though both devices have their own drawbacks in this context. With the current iteration of Rift, it would be difficult to keep folks from bumping into walls, whereas Glass lacks the processing power and display size optimal for virtual reality.

Whatever platform developers work on, Metaio’s “holodeck” tech is a perfect fit for games — in fact, the “6D” in the name is a reference to old, six-directional gaming joysticks, said Lord — though it could also work for virtual tourism or educational experiences.

“Imagine walking around covalent bonds in real-time,” said Lord. “I’d have paid a lot more attention in chemistry.

“We’re just trying to inspire developers to create really compelling content.”

Metaio is also developing “Thermal Touch” technology, which combines thermal imaging and augmented reality to turn the world into one giant touchscreen.

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