Vertigo Simulator Is the Closest Thing to Virtual Reality Yet

Oculus Rift and Kinect are already seen as great ways of making games more immersive, but bringing them together into a single concept called Vertigo Simulator should lead to the ultimate gaming experience.

Vertigo Simulator was developed by Inition, a London-based company specialized in bespoke real-time 3D graphics applications. Given the purpose of this concept (which literally is to simulate nightmares), I really think that Incubus would have been a far more adequate name. I could only forgive the developers for choosing the current name if they admitted that it’s inspired by Hitchcock’s psychological drama (a true masterpiece and also the greatest film of all times, according to BFI’s Sight & Sound magazine).

The following picture is of a man walking across a not-so-wide piece of concrete between two skyscrapers. From the outside, that might not seem true, but that’s the man sees in his Oculus Rift helmet, with the help of a software made in Unity. Not even the fan isn’t what it looks like, as the air blown by it is converted to harsh winds that make the crossing nearly impossible.

The movement is tracked by the Kinect sensor so accurately, that there are barely any lags. The sensor even picks up the ankle movements, so walking on the spot is translated into real walking inside the helmet. With the risk of sounding sinister, this reminds me of The Muppet Show rendition of Noel Harrison’s Windmills of Your Mind (“I’m very relaxed. I’m terribly calm and tranquil, and very, very relaxed, indeed. On the outside… but on the inside…”).

In the past, Oculus Rift has been used in some terrifying projects. For example, an Oculus Rift app allowed people to have a first head hand beheading experience. Luke Westaway from CNET UK also got to play with a glove-sensor scenario that involved a hand-amputating guillotine while documenting the Vertigo Simulator. That might be interesting if you want to feel like Jaime Lannister. Hopefully, the virtual-reality device will be used for more peaceful, less traumatizing things in the future.

Needless to say, the Vertigo Simulator could have a lot of applications besides gaming. Presentations, media consumption, and even therapy could be literally revolutionized by using such a device. It’s a bit weird, to say the least, that Inition decided to showcase its technologies in such a terrifying context.

If you liked this post, please read about virtual jamming with Kinect and the Kinect augmented reality fitting room.