Underwater virtual reality will give you anything but a sinking feeling

virtual reality underwater gpexportphoto 0001
Folks in tech have a thing about convergence. Whether it’s combining personal data assistants with cellphones to create smartphones, or crossing web browsing computers with televisions to create smart TVs, there’s something irresistible about combining two different concepts and hoping the results are greater than the sum of their parts.

That’s what friends Stephen Greenwood and Allan Evans may have achieved when they decided to combine a scene from a popular Netflix series with virtual reality headsets to create … floating underwater VR. Sure, it sounds a bit crazy, but it’s hard not to be a little intrigued.

“We were out in San Francisco one night,” Greenwood, who is director of creative development at Discovery Digital Networks, told Digital Trends. “I had just been watching the show Stranger Things on Netflix, and was really inspired by one scene in the show where one of the characters is in a sensory deprivation tank. We started talking about sensory deprivation, and all of a sudden we came up with the idea of using a VR headset in one of these sensory deprivation tanks.”

virtual reality underwater img 1877

Evans, co-founder of headset maker Avegant, immediately set about thinking of ways to develop a prototype to see if the idea was worth exploring further. The very next day he got hold of a diving mask and 3D-printed two blocks to go inside it to allow a waterproof Android smartphone to be slotted inside like an aquatic Google Cardboard device. It was then just a matter of finding a swimming pool to test the creation in.

“The first experience I wanted to test out was simulating a space environment,” Greenwood continued. “I was able to track down a CG-rendered video of the International Space Station floating above the Earth. The impact was pretty much immediate. Even though it’s not the highest resolution or fidelity, there was a moment where — for a brief second — you really felt like you were an astronaut floating in space.”

Evans is quick to point out that this is in no way a finished product. “It’s the earliest possible stage of a prototype,” he said. “It couldn’t be any earlier.”

They’re not finished yet, though. “The next step is to see if we can incorporate a positional tracking system so that, rather than just being able to turn your head to look around at a 360 video, there’s the ability to swim toward objects in virtual reality,” he continued. “That’s going to be a big step to us.”

Hey, at the very least this neat hack promises to make bath time infinitely more enjoyable!

Mobile

The best CES 2019 health gadgets combat stress, pain, and more

We can all use some help with our health and CES 2019 was packed with intriguing devices designed to combat pain and stress, help you monitor blood pressure, reduce tinnitus, and care for the sick or elderly.
Home Theater

QLED and OLED may have similar names, but they're totally different technologies

The names may look almost identical, but OLED and QLED are two entirely different beasts. In our QLED vs. OLED battle, we dissect the differences between these dueling TV technologies, and help determine which might be best for you.
Outdoors

Snooze soundly anywhere you lay your head with the best sleeping bags

A proper sleeping bag has the ability to make or break a camping or backpacking trip. Here are our picks for the best sleeping bags on the market to help you choose the correct bag for any type of outdoor adventure.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2019.
Emerging Tech

Earth’s magnetic field is shifting, vital map can’t be updated due to shutdown

The Earth's magnetic field is moving, effecting navigation systems of all kinds. A model of the field should have been good until its scheduled update in 2020, however, it has moved so quickly that an update is required much sooner.
Emerging Tech

Scientists debate mysterious flash of light in space, known as ‘The Cow’

On June 16, 2018 there was an unusual flash in the sky which puzzled astronomers around the world. NASA researchers have been collecting data on the event and have shared two competing theories for what could have caused it.
Emerging Tech

Brightest quasar ever seen discovered by Hubble, may be star-producing machine

The brightest quasar even seen has been observed with the Hubble Space Telescope using a technique called strong gravitational lensing. The quasar is enormously energetic and may be producing thousands of stars per year.
Emerging Tech

Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

Video has been shared of a lander's-eye view of China's Chang'e 4 mission touching down in the Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The craft captured footage of the descent with a camera which was attached to the probe.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.