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Disney Reveals How to Catch a Real Ball in Virtual Reality

Disney’s Research arm have revealed a system where a user can catch a real, physical ball while wearing a headset and still immersed in virtual reality (VR).

Disney Research have released a video showing how someone wearing a head mounted display (HMD) who can only see the virtual landscape can still catch a real ball that is thrown at them. The technique uses position sensors to generate a projected trajectory for the user in the headset. A virtual version of the ball is then projected in real-time into the virtual world, allowing the VR user to catch the ball, even though the physical ball is not visible.

The system uses some ‘predictive assistance’ by showing the VR user various overlays that make it easier to catch. The video shows a ball being thrown between two people, and the person in the VR headset is able to catch the ball every time.

Matthew Pan and Gunter Niemeyer, from Disney Research Los Angeles have released a paper that contains full details on this experiment into VR, including the full set of equations that were used to create the virtual ball. The simulated ball was rendered at 120fps on an Oculus CV1 headset and used an environment with a minimal amount of decoration in order to keep the framerate high.

It’s not currently clear what the further applications of this technology are, but the researches at Disney say in their paper that it provides “A valuable insight which informs how interactions with dynamic objects can be achieved while users are immersed in VR.”

The researchers also say it has opened up other avenues for future work in their field.

You can find the full text of the research paper at the Disney Research website. You can watch the video demonstration of the technology below.

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