Altair Digital have announced that they are to bring the wonder of the solar system as historically experienced via your local Planetarium to virtual reality with Fulldome Cinema.

One of the earliest forms of immersive education and perhaps a pre-cursor to virtual reality, planetariums have engaged audiences with their panoramic representation of the night sky and, latterly, many other natural wonders besides.

Now, Russian company Altair Digital has seen an opportunity to tap into content produced for their so-called ‘Fulldome’ planetariums, very wide-angle content traditionally projected onto the domed ceilings of purpose built theatres. The company currently specialises in portable domed projection systems, so this certainly feels like a logical step for the company.

Altair have produced an application called ‘Fulldome Cinema‘, now available for the Samsung Gear VR, which renders a digital representation of a planetarium theatre inside VR, complete with 200 virtual seats and a 20 metre, domed projection screen. Using this, Altair then take existing Fulldome projection experiences from the real world and project those into the VR planetarium. As existing experiences are produced in stereoscopic 3D, they’re ideal for VR viewing, and the naturally panoramic scenes can be glanced around at using head-tracking as you would expect.

altair-fulldome-vr (1)Right now, the experience is only available for Samsung Gear VR with a selection of free content and trailers but Altair Digital are planning to expand this scope with in-development versions of the app “coming” for Oculus Rift and Android VR platforms too. We’re presuming that eventually, full length Fulldome content will be available for purchase within the application itself.

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  • Raphael

    Limited to oculus closed platform and thus ignoring steamvr. Doesn’t sound like the smartest move.

    • Alexey Irkov

      Dear Raphael,

      Gear VR is just a first step.
      Altair Fulldome Cinema will be available for SteamVR in any way. We are modelling realistic atmosphere of the planetarium hall now and prepare architecture for Fulldome 3K (3072x3072px) video streaming and premium content.

      Just wait a bit!

      • Raphael

        ok. thanks for information.

        :)

  • psuedonymous

    Hopefully this will be available for the Rift sooner rather than later. The biggest advantage of fulldome content (that the GearVR cannot take advantage of) is the extreme resolutions available. The ESA for example have plenty of 8k mastered fulldome files freely available for download. This takes full advantage of the ability to supersample, but requires a PC in order to actually decode those files in real time.

    • Alexey Irkov

      Yes! We are already working on it.

      At the moment all Fulldome shows available in Fisheye 2K (2048x2048px) resolution. For PC platform will be available Fisheye 3K (3072×3072) resolution.

  • JustNiz

    Please tell me they are also going to support the Vive! There’s no mention of it in your article.

    • Alexey Irkov

      Yes, We are going support Vive and Oculus. At the moment we are modelling more realistic planetarium hall for PC platforms and then we are ready for VIve release.

  • JustNiz

    Why are they modeling the planetarium itself (i.e. fake seats and a screen within a screen)? I think it would be MUCH better if they didnt do that and just put you right in the middle of the image, so there is no “virtual” theater or extra screen.

    • Michael Davidson

      I would think it provides a “well grounded” point of reference. It makes some people uneasy to just be thrown into outer space virtually.

      • JustNiz

        I can’t imagine that’s true otherwise any VR experience would do that. Have you played the Solar System minigame in The Lab? Its awesome, especially standing next to the sun.

    • Alexey Irkov

      We can made Void dome without any planetarium hall.
      We also plan make some fantastic atmosphere for the best experience.

  • Virtual Escapes

    We love to hear that space will be accessible to the masses via VR. That is our mission at Virtual Escapes. If your interested in viewing some scenes go to http://www.virtualescapes2day.com. We actually just released a new video where you can view @ YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB9ycK7mIbk or in 3D at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTmkjAY2SKk&t=150s

  • Fire
  • Sri Kallidai

    I quite like what you guys have done. There are a few issues on the spring line area where there’s a bit of jitter.
    The icing on the cake would be if we could import content we are developing ourselves and view in this virtual dome! Will that be happening at all?