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Crashing Into 4D

posted May 21, 2015, 2:06 PM by Ellen Pearlman

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We are reaching a turning point where brain research and virtual worlds are intersecting, and colliding.  A company called “The Void” is building virtual worlds, or as they call it, VEC (Virtual Entertainment Centers) that you inhabit inside a headset they have named “Rapture,” with custom optics, microphones, and accelerometers. It resembles an Oculus Rift. These VECs will be rolled out in theme parks around the world, with the first one set to open in Salt Lake City, Utah.

For example pictured above is a kind of space ship virtual door or port.  It is constructed of fabricated cutouts in grey and black, resembling a stage set. 

The participant is dressed in a play armor suit and wearing a type of head set. There is what looks like a touch screen in front of them. When they look at the touch screen from inside the head set, it looks like what is pictured below except it does not exist, but inside the headset it does.

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At this point, they can make a choice about which button to push on the lit up screen, but there is not an actual lit up screen, just the blank  touch screen on the constructed set. Or pictured below is a spray mist machine moving up and down a hydraulic pole.

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But what an individual feels on their body is a misty rain, and what they are looking at inside the headset is a storm in a cityscape.

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These VECs will be equipped with custom motion simulators, and allow for games, and other environments between multiple players.

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On their site The Void has a special contact page for “opportunities with the Armed forces, SWAT, and police forces,” and even has government contract numbers ready to dole out. They are financially backed by the Broad Oak Investment Bank group, with affiliates in Asia.

Concurrently, and independently, scientists are now able to induce out of the body experiences in individuals, while mapping areas of the brain responsible for that sensation. At the Karolinska Institute of Medical Research in Sweden, individuals were fitted with a head mounted display while placed inside a brain scanning machine.  The participants could see inside the display their own bodies peaking out from a scanning machine, as well as what appeared to be their feet, but was just illusionary feet under a blanket.  The researchers then touched both the real body and the illusionary body. The human brain instantly responded to the touch and integrated the information deeply enough so the real body and the illusionary body became the same sensate body.

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In this photo, the real body is in the brain scanning machine on the left, and the constructed illusion body is in the lower part of the screen, though both images have feet sticking out.

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Here, in the fake image a knife attack is seen slicing across the body, and the real person experiences the sensation of the knife, even though in reality there is no knife anywhere near them. The researchers examined the scans of the temporal and parietal lobes, and were able to figure out if the person was experiencing the “real” or the “illusionary image just by which areas of the brain were active.

The 2014 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to scientists who were able to locate a positioning system in mouse brains, generally in the area of the hippocampus. This is related to the same type of information this scan revealed in the human brain that works with physical and body location. Its like a human GPS system or accelerometer.

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In the human brain, the spatial triggers correspond to more or less, the three areas highlighted in red. This research has  implications for creating virtual 4D worlds even more real than The Void is creating in Utah. It also implies future generations of artists will need to be trained how to create events and designs for these 4D worlds,which are looming just over the horizon.

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