Kite & Lightning’s latest virtual reality (VR) endeavour was revealed as part of AMD’s press conference last week, and VRFocus has been hands-on with the experience known as Neuro. The second project the Los Angeles, California, studio has developed in collaboration with General Electric (GE), Neuro is an inspired look into the workings of the human brain delivered on the Oculus Rift Crescent Bay.
The experience begins as you stand face-to-face with a young musician, Reuben Wu from Ladytron, frozen in time and ready for your experimentation. Based in a very atypical young professional’s apartment, a holographic AI head explains the current situation and invites you inside Wu’s mind. You are soon shrunk to a tiny scale and begin to move inwards, directly through a portal that opens upon Wu’s forehead.
The aesthetic design of Neuro is undoubtedly very stylised. This is not a direct and accurate visual depiction of electrical impulses working within the human brain. The opening section is a mimicry of real-world properties and, for a moment, presents a 3D sculpture of an MRI scan that the user is able to move right into, exploring the full depth of Wu’s brain. However the fuller experience is one of bright colours, ambient music and dancing robots. Certainly offering more of Kite & Lightning’s studio personality than their previous work with GE, GE Subsea VR.
However, while the visuals may be somewhat unconventional, the narration is most certainly not. Your AI buddy is both informative and personable, gifting you with a relaxed approach to specific areas of the brain and exactly how they work. It’s an educational piece as much as it is intended to entertain, yet never is the user simply lectured.
Inside Wu’s head the colours and obscurity that are symbolic of Kite & Lightning’s typical work are evident. This isn’t another journey of consciousness as in Senza Peso, nor is it a depiction of futuristic hooliganism as with K&L Station, but rather a suggestion as to how the inner mind of a creative individual works. The player is surrounded by neurons which, when looked at directly, open to reveal an android within moving rhythmically with the experience’s background music. You continue to move forward, witnessing more and more of these automatons as your AI colleague narrates the real-world properties of the brain activity to you. The visual design could have easily conflicted with the informative nature of the experience, yet Kite & Lightning have somehow managed to avoid any such clashes.
In typical Kite & Lightning fashion, Neuro is a wonderfully unique experience that truly understands the depths to which VR can reach. It’s a fairly standard ride but the quality of the visual design and the keen understanding of what makes VR unique are indicative of a studio that shows no signs of slowing down. Kite & Lightning have created yet another short but promising taste of what is to come from the studio down the line, and surely it’s only a matter of time til they turn their hands to a more interactive experience.