Curtis-HickmanThe VOID started when Curtis Hickman brought on James Jensen to do some pre-visualization of the Evermore theme park that he was developing with Ken Bretschneider. When Curtis asked James if he had any other cool ideas, he shared his long-time vision of creating a virtual world that was overlaid on top of a physical world to create a mixed reality experience. They created an initial proof of concept that convinced them they were on to something really compelling, but they still had to solve a number of big problems in order to create their “Vision Of Infinite Dimensions” that The VOID set out to accomplish. So the VOID turned to ‘magic’ to solve them.

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Curtis is a professional illusionist who spent many years designing magic tricks for some of the world’s top magicians, and he started to solve some the VOID’s design problems by using what he knows about magic. He independently discovered VR techniques that are more widely known as redirected walking, and he expanded upon these to crate an experience that allows the user to make choices in exploring infinite mixed reality worlds using their physical template. I had a chance to catch up with Curtis after trying the VOID in Utah before Sundance, and he shared with me other insights for what VR designers can learn using techniques of magic.

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The VOID is going to be shown to all of the TED attendees this week, and so keep an eye out for reactions. Here’s a poster with the trigger warnings provided to TED attendees with sensitivities:

Take note of the “sudden drops” warning. I was told that not all of the people going through will experience a sudden drop, but I expect some pretty strong reactions from those who do. Keep an eye news coming out of TED this week to hear how people are responding. This beyond room-scale experience may be a lot of people’s first exposure to VR, and I’d expect it to blow some minds.

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  • Zach Gray

    Marketing visualizations like this (and for the vive, and magic leap, etc) that use visual effects to illustrate the concepts can never resist over-selling the actual product. They incorporate high end visual effects, particle simulations that take hours to calculate, polished keyframe animation, and represent refined surface detail that won’t show up in engine for a few more years. I’m sympathetic to needing to show the ‘idea’, but feel like they are setting the audience up for disappointment.

    The cool thing about VR is being there, so you have to make it cool in other ways. But it’s out of sync. However, I’m excited about the potential and wish them the best.

    • Lhorkan

      Especially considering that 80% of the current games being developed for VR all have very basic visuals with no textures at all, instead opting for a stylized flat shaded look – titles like Lucky’s Tale, Modbox, Job simulator, Budget cuts, Eagle flight and many more. The reason for this being that even high end hardware still has to push hard to get 90FPS in VR. And that’s on proper desktop hardware – the Void has to run out of laptops.

      That being said, I don’t doubt that the experience will still be one to remember.

      • Paul Jensen

        80 percent of the games are made for consumers at home . Void has its own hardware and can develop for it. And the computer, hmd and connection is better than anything a normal consumer would have. so have aaa gfx textures, flares dust whatever they want

        • Heimdal

          Sure . But can they make gpu’s fitting into laptops better than what’s out there? Or are they hiding external gtx980ti slis in those backpacks somehow. If they achieve that they should really just open up their own hardware company and beat nvidia/amd . I mean I get they don’t have to make it cost effective and all, but still . How.

          • Paul Jensen

            The computer was made for Void. Custom hardware some parts by hand. It didn’t exist until the team at Void thought it up

          • Heimdal

            And?

      • yag

        The Void shows very small maps, so no big deal for an average GPU.

    • Paul Jensen

      there has not been one person that has seen the video and gone throughVoid and been disappointed.

  • Crusher

    It’s all fun and games until someone takes a VR mage staff to the tailbone during that dragon fight.