Step into the Virtusphere, where virtual reality meets real life. Safely traverse a real or imagined 3-D world in micro or macro. Walk through the human nervous system, a battleground, a crime scene, an alien planet, or even a data set. Virtusphere transcends the physical and financial limitations of time, space, and materials. Watch this video about the Virtusphere and partner with Harrisburg University on a Virtusphere project. Together we can open new worlds in training, gaming, and learning.
What is it?
The Virtusphere is a versatile simulation platform comprising a 10-foot, hollow ball of ABS plastic, hardware that includes wireless head-mounted display goggles, and software. Since its commercialization in 2007, the Virtusphere has found uses in military and law enforcement training, gaming, education, and corporate training. In 3-D virtual reality, users safely explore hazardous or complex environments, or they become immersed in full-body gaming experiences. Harrisburg University has the only Virtusphere in the eastern United States.
How it works
The user steps into the Virtusphere - a safe and secure ball rolling on a base of casters - and dons a head-mounted display. Twin physical forces go to work, as the user walks in any direction and looks up, down, and around. Sensors monitor the speed and direction of the steps and the direction of the gaze, and the image seen on the head-mounted display goes wherever the user walks and looks. A light plastic gun can also be carried for sending signals and targeting. Other people can view the scene on monitors outside the Virtusphere, and the experience can be recorded for future use as a training and evaluation tool.
Uses and Applications
Harrisburg University partners with business, government, and nonprofits to bridge the divide between academia and real-world technological breakthroughs. For Virtusphere partners, HU offers software development expertise to create customized applications. As a bonus, STEM-focused graduate and undergraduate students contribute to projects, building experience in 3-D technologies that they can transport into the workforce. These capabilities elevate the Virtusphere from an intriguing gadget to a targeted, versatile, and cost-effective training tool for a range of industries and fields including, but not limited to, corporate training, education, history, emergency services, military, and gaming.
Only Virtusphere offers these advantages in virtual reality:
- Safety. Experience dangerous settings at no risk of injury.
- Natural and realistic 3-D. See all aspects of a situation in depth.
- Heightened reality. Other VR systems put the user at a computer monitor, one step removed from the environment. With Virtusphere, the user is fully immersed, engaged, and attentive.
- Instant response. The image correlates to head turns and feet movements. No lag time.
- Omnidirectional. Users move in all directions to navigate virtual environments with ease.
- Cost-effective. State-of-the-art 3-D minimizes spending on fixed-space, brick-and-mortar facilities. Upgrade or adapt software as needed.
The hardware consists of:
- Plastic sphere 10 feet in diameter (comprising 32 individual parts) weighing about 285 pounds, or 485 pounds with metal base.
- Metal base with attached wheels.
- Grounding wire interwoven throughout the metal base which can be plugged into an outlet.
- Laptop connected to two movement sensors (one wireless, one cable) which are placed underneath the sphere.
- Head-mounted display (HMD) with attached wireless receiver and battery pack.
- Light plastic gun with attached wireless receiver and battery pack.
The laptop contains
- Intel Pentium 4 processor Architecture.
- Windows 2000/XP (compatible with Xbox, PlayStation, and other computer platforms).
- Special device drivers.
- Proprietary SDK that is licensed to software developers.
- Two default programs - one using the HMD, and one using the HMD with light gun - that demonstrate the Virtusphere's abilities.
- Two people can assemble or disassemble the Virtusphere in four hours, using standard power drills.
- The ideal setup space would be any area that has 100 square feet and a ceiling height of at least 11 feet.
- A disassembled Virtusphere