70ºF

Virtual, augmented reality coming to you

News 6's Justin Warmoth visits Full Sail University to check out the technology


Most of the time, when people think of virtual reality, they think of video games.

But at Full Sail University, virtual reality goes above and beyond.

It's all part of the newest programs at the school, simulation and visualization. They deal, in part, with virtual and augmented reality.

"Augmented reality is incorporating the real world with the digital world, whereas virtual reality is, 'We're taking the real world away from you and all you're seeing is the virtual,'" said Rob Catto, program director for degrees in graduate game design and undergraduate simulation.

[Read more about The Original Iron Kid, here.]

And it's not just about video games.

"It's all about training, explaining or entertaining," said Catto. "There's not an industry out there that one of those three doesn't apply or multiples doesn't apply."

For example, the medical industry can use something such as the HoloLens for training.

"There's actually medical students using this to train with," said Catto.

He cued up the program.

"Do you see the skeleton?" Catto asked News 6 morning anchor Justin Warmoth. "You can literally walk around it."

Catto explained the benefit of something like this. It provides the ability to manipulate parts of the body you're looking at, and it gives students a complete 360-degree view. While performing surgery, you typically see the body from only one side. Catto then pulled up another program, which showed a ballerina dancing in the corner of the room.

[WEB EXTRA: Virtual Reality Veterans Experience]

"Imagine somebody in another country or another state or you had several cameras around that could actually grab her in 3-D. You could now teleport that image in front of you and now that would be that person and you could have that conversation with them," said Catto, painting a picture of a futuristic phone call. "It's where you have the real physical world, but you have the digital world superimposed on it."

Catto said this kind of technology will also change how you go shopping.

"It will probably be something on the order of a pair of sunglasses type of object that as you're walking down the street, you pull up to a store window or you look in a store window and all of a sudden, something appears that you're going to be able to interact with to get more information," said Catto. "So that is something that's going to be, from a population example, more commonly used."\

 

That'sif you'll even need to leave your house at all to go buy things. Part of the program at Full Sail includes a fabrication lab, where students learn how to manufacture items used in simulation and other projects.

"People have probably heard of 3-D printing. It's coming to a price point where pretty soon you'll have a 3-D printer in your home, like a regular paper printer," said Catto. "You're not going to go to the store and order a part or go online and order a part. You're going to go online and order a file. The file's going to come to your house and then you'll print a part. That's in the next fiveto 10 years, because some of these printers are already less than $1,000."

One of the most practical uses of virtual reality is helping people get over their fears. Catto put a virtual reality headset on Warmoth and loaded up a program.

"So they're actually using this technology for things like fear of heights," said Catto.

"Yeah, I'm not a fan of heights, so this is helping me out, actually," said Warmoth.

"Yeah? Go to the edge," said Catto.

"Honestly, I think I may throw up," said Warmoth.

"Now you feel like you're actually at that height?" asked Catto.

"Oh yeah, you feel it. For sure," said Warmoth.

If you happen to like heights, or traveling to get to them, Catto said tourism is going to be huge for virtual reality.

Once again, Warmoth put on a VR headset and Catto loaded up a program showing Vesper Peak in Washington.

"How they built this was somebody went up there and took hundreds of photographs and then all the photographs got stitched together and they created geometry from it and they created the terrain that allows us to put you there visually," said Catto. "A city like Orlando wants to advertise what they've got here, they can have some 360-degree videos that you either put (on) a VR headset or a gear VR headset and you can actually take a tour of Orlando. In the near future, the olfactorysense, smell, will be included, and you'll be able to go to Bora Bora and smell the smells you'd be able to and see the sights."

The culmination of all the manufacturing, coding and visualization aspects students learn is the paragliding simulator. Simulators like this one can be used to train for jobs that are potentially dangerous, in a safe and controlled environment.

"So we've got electronics. We've got an electronics box. We've got the computer that's integrated with it all and then we apply the visuals to that," said Catto. "The more senses that you can bring into play, the deeper level of immersion you're going to feel and you'll have a deeper sense that you're really there. So we have two fans on there that are controlled by the computer and they are hyper-velocity, so the faster you go, the faster they blow. On the chair, we've got a base shaker, and the base shaker vibrates to give you the sensation of the motor on your back. You're flying over a military base and there are tanks and Humvees and trucks. There's guard towers, and on the top of the throttle, there's a little red button and you fire missiles."

Warmoth gave it a try, and said it really looked and felt as if he were paragliding.

"I crashed, like, several times," he said. "That was awesome."

Catto said in the near future, people will be able to train for all kinds of jobs and scenarios by using virtual reality.

"The thing that's going to enable you to get more education and training will be the people behind the scenes that create the environments that use the technology, because that's all this is. It's just a tool," said Catto. "It's going to be up to people like me that are creating and building the tool that use this as a visualization environment that will allow you to better explain something, train. There's going to be a market. They're going to start jumping in and the things that you're going to be able to do, learn, experience as we go from here on out are absolutely going to be incredible."

Catto said that's what they're training the students at Full Sail for: "We're preparing our students for jobs that haven't been created yet."


About the Author: