Battlefield 3 is set to be one of the biggest games of the 2011 season thanks to its impressively life-like graphics and sound-design. I can tell you from experience, the Battlefield games have had some of the best sound design in the industry. Hooked up to the appropriate audio setup, you will feel like you’ve got your feet on the ground in the midst of an actual battle. Terrifying, and incredibly fun, but virtual reality it is not.

Remember when I told you the other day how awesome Battlefield 3 would be if it were hooked up with a VR rig? Well it looks like that wish is now reality.

Thanks to folks from The Gadget Show, Battlefield 3 is about to become a wickedly immersive experience (for those lucky enough to play it in the rig they build, that is). They created a virtual reality Battlefield 3 simulator which combines almost all of the technologies we’ve been talking about here on Road to VR and even added some interesting new components into the mix. Check out their teaser trailer:


The teaser lists the following technologies, all working together to create a lifelike experience:

  • Wireless Weapon
  • Omni-directional Treadmill
  • Motion Tracking
  • Surround Sound
  • Paintball Guns Ambient Lighting
  • Five HD Projectors
  • 360 Degree Dome
  • (and of course) Battlefield 3
This is a really incredible rig if it works as well as the teaser seems to indicate. The episode featuring the Battlefield 3 virtual reality simulator airs tomorrow night (October 24th) at 8PM on channel 5. The Gadget Show is apparently aired by a British broadcasting company, so I suppose only those in Britain will have access to the show, though I’m hoping I might be able to catch it somewhere online.
Instead of a head-mounted-display, they’ve gone all out with a 360 degree dome which uses five HD projectors to create the Battlefield 3 landscape. This is undoubtedly the PC version of of Battlefield 3. The wireless weapon appears to be used to interpret the direction that the player is aiming, and when they mount their gun to their shoulder. An interesting looking omni-directional treadmill allows the player to literally walk through the virtual battlefield, with motion tracking used to identify the player’s movement and to instruct the treadmill to compensate for it. I can’t imagine how complex the surround sound setup must be. If it’s accurate surround sound in an environment where the player is potentially moving 360 degrees, then the surround sound system needs to know which direction the player is looking, and must adjust the audio output in real time.
The coup de grâce of the setup is undoubtedly the paintball guns which apparently track the player and fire at them in order to simulate gunfire whizzing past your head, and also to simulate actually getting shot. If you’ve ever played paintball before you’ll know that, depending upon the gun used, paint balls can hurt!

I don’t expect to see this rig commercialized at any point given the proprietary nature of all of the systems, but a mass produced version of this setup could readily be sold to mega-arcades and other extreme-entertainment venues.

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If you’re in Britain and have a chance to watch the show, please drop some comments here to let us know how the Battlefield 3 virtual reality simulator performs!

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."