If you're playing Elite Dangerous in VR and you bank your ship to the right. Your VR ship banks to the right but your real body does not move. But what if it did?
Feel Three VR Motion Simulator strives to make this a reality.
How does it work?
You would sit in a sphere looking device with your favorite control stick attached. X52 would be my choice. You would then attach the Oculus Rift camera to the sphere so when the sphere moves the camera moves with it.
Underneath the sphere there are regular roller chains, which are powered by high torque motors that grip the bottom of the sphere with high traction rubber rollers. This allows the sphere to be rolled to the side by one set of motors but also simultaneously pitched forward and back and rotated around.
The cockpit where the user sits is tethered to a computer outside with a long cable with plenty of slack. Alternatively the user can mount a laptop inside and run a power cable. The software forms a hardware-software loop with the game you are playing, so if you roll your spaceship left the Feel Three checks where you are and begins to turn the motors to achieve that movement. If you accelerate in game the motors pitch the sphere backwards to simulate this g-force, and your body (in game) would remain facing forward. Your body feels this backwards shift in gravity as forward momentum which is reinforced by your eyes seeing you move forward through the game environment.
Games will initially be supported through sim-tools which access motion information for about 60 games through the profiles on their site.
Next (if they can pull it off) will come a plugin for Unity 3D, UDK4 and Cryengine which will open up a whole host of games.
This thing just begs to be played with Elite Dangerous with the Oculus Rift as well as future games such as Eve : Valkyrie and Star Citizen. The company resides in the UK which is pretty close to the developers of these games so support would certainly be possible.
Price is not yet announced. They plan to release 3 different versions at different price points but they're not yet set on their final specification. Each version adds more panels that increases the size of the sphere which then allows for greater movement. More powerful motors can also be added. Their goal is for this to be cheaper than other motion simulators due to the simplicity of the construction along with no need for attached monitors. From their FAQ site in regards to pricing:
The base unit will be 16 panels, a mount for your own chair, the base with three (or perhaps only two) degrees of freedom and the electronics.
We'd also release two other versions with more panels, faster motors and other nice add ons but these parts could all be purchased separately (or with the base unit) whenever you wanted to upgrade. We’ll also leave plenty of connectors on the base electronics to plug in more motors.
When Can I Get One?
The plan is to get the Feel Three onto Kickstarter in 2015. So this is unlikely to turn up at your door step until the very end of 2015 and more likely into 2016. But hey, we don't even have a date for the Oculus Rift CV1 yet.
One thing is for sure, some interesting devices are coming soon.
See more at www.feelthree.com
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