If you’ve ever messed around in an augmented or virtual reality system, you know how mind twisting it can be. When the lines between what’s real and what isn’t get blurry, it’s easy to start questioning even the simplest things. If you don’t the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality, I’ll explain that first before going into this particular virtual reality system, which will take you on a never-ending maze of corridors where you think you’re never walking down the same hallway twice.
Augmented reality and virtual reality are similar in that they both immerse users into a non-real world that they believe is real. To simplify it, the main difference is that in a virtual reality world, there is nothing real. In an augmented reality world, what is not real is mixed into what is real, so it’s a unique combination of the two.
It’s tricky to create both systems for different reasons. The challenge with creating a virtual reality system (like this one) is that since nothing is real, every detail about the user experience has to be considered and created, otherwise the user will not believe the virtual reality world is real, which is the ultimate fail.
This virtual reality system is one of the most complex I’ve ever seen. It basically takes the user on a never-ending maze through corridors and down hallways. Users never see the same thing twice, so they believe they are in a very large environment, but that’s not true. The truth is, all this was created so that in real life they are just basically walking around in circles in one small room. The way this was designed, it seems so real that the users don’t even know they are walking in circles.
According to Hannes Kaufmann at the Vienna University of Technology in Austria (whose picture you see above), “People think they are walking in a much larger environment. We can simulate rooms connected by corridors, and we could simulate outdoor areas in which certain areas are restricted.” The next step for this system is that the team wants to make it so a second person can enter the same maze, meet up with the first one, but then they never bump into each other as they walk around in the maze. Wow, love it!