HTC has shown a few examples of what mixed reality (MR) can be like when applied to virtual reality (VR), and during the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this week the HTC Vive booth was taking appointments for attendees to try out a VR title so they could receive a recording of their own MR experience. When arriving at the line, it was clear that this was something that caught people’s attention, with many attendees being turned away after having not booked their appointment. I, however, had the chance to enter the world of Space Pirate Trainer.
When embarking on the MR experience, I stepped into an area where I was surrounded by a green screen with a single camera set up in front of me. I was run through the usual explanation of the controls of the videogame and what I would be seeing – Space Pirate Trainer itself, however, wasn’t what I was getting ready to try out, but rather the quality of the MR recording. While I was trying out the VR experience of Space Pirate Trainer I, of course, had no awareness of the filming that was occurring, and playing the videogame was just as enjoyable as what I had anticipated with a flurry lasers flying all around me as I battle the little bots.
Once I removed the HTC Vive hardware and stepped outside of the green screen area, there was a tablet there ready with pictures taken during the MR experience and the video of me within the Space Pirate Trainer, and my first reaction was to smile from how clearly I was integrated into the VR videogame. How I experienced the videogame is how it came out.
As I made full use of the room-scale element of the videogame, dodging shots and taking on the surrounding enemies, the MR playback showed no signs of struggle with keeping up with all my movements, providing a clean mixed experience that was shown through the emerging videos. As well as the recording of myself within the videogame, the definition of the weapons that were attached to the motion controllers in my hands also seemed to stay smoothly synched with my hands. However, as pictured above, sometimes the weapons and shields didn’t seem to show up.
However, despite the streaming being very well synched, I couldn’t help feeling as though the whole MR experience could be taken a few steps beyond what is currently the standard. There certainly is room for additions to be made that could completely hide head-mounted display (HMD) and motion controllers to make it look as though the user belongs to the surroundings. The MR experience is an unmistakably advanced and useful tool to give passers-by a real taste of what the VR users are experiencing, but what I can’t wait for is to not look stick out like a sore thumb (I’m pretty sure a journalist with a lanyard doesn’t belong in space shooting droids).
It is interesting to think about the future of MR, but unfortunately it is easy to find yourself having cynical thoughts as it seems to be trying to mimic augmented realty (AR) but without the advanced technology.