Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cool Toyz

Get ready to lose yourself in videogames—literally.  In May, the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas installed the first public Virtusphere, a human-sized hamster ball that lets you move through virtual worlds by walking, running, or crawling inside it.  Until now, the sphere has been used primarily for military and police training.  Now, wearing a virtual-reality visor, anyone inside can play a first-person-shooter game, tour historic Russian architecture or do any number of leisure activities.

The 10-foot sphere is made of the same plastic as Legos, and its curvature helps to cushion players if they fall.  The ball spins on a platform fitted with 45 caster-mounted wheels.   Beneath, an optical sensor tracks motion the same way a computer mouse does, watching for relative movement across x and y axes.  To make the experience truly immersive, the player is fitted with a head-mounted display with two internal LCD screens.  A laptop wirelessly collects the data from the sensor and the gyroscopes, magnetometers and accelerometers on the headset to create the image the player sees.  Below is a video showing how the system works and for more info on Virtual Ventures go to

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