Forget goggles — WSU has a projector-based VR cave that you can experience without headgear

Love virtual reality, but hate wearing those clunky goggles on your face? Not to worry: Wichita State University has your back. The organization recently completed a new installment dubbed “The Cave” — an enormous floor-to-ceiling virtual reality tunnel that allows designers to create giant mock-ups of their concepts and then experience what it’s like to walk through them — all without strapping a screen to their face.

“The WSU Cave is a 4-sided immersive visualization system,” Jeff Fisher, WSU’s virtual reality lab manager, tells Digital Trends. “[It] has a 19 foot wide x 10 foot tall front screen, two 10 foot x 10 foot side screens, and a 19 foot x 10 foot floor screen that projected images are displayed on. Our system is considered flexible in the sense that the side walls are hinged, and can be folded out to make a continuous 39 feet x 10 feet wall if needed.”

To achieve the full effect requires 12 Digital Projection Titan LED 3D projectors. The main user’s head is tracked to give a realistic immersive experience by way of an Advanced Realtime Tracking system. The user also carries a “wand” which they can utilize to take measurements, record video, or even annotate the virtual environment.

“Many of our use-cases stem from design, manufacturing and architecture/construction,” Fisher continues. “Imagine a manufacturing company was going to build a new building or assembly line. Any kind of mistakes or imperfections in the design, and delivery of that building will hurt that company’s ROI (return on investment). Thus the ability to virtually walk through and simulate that building helps reduce costs.”

But, as impressive as this all sounds, why not stick to basic headset VR?

“The Cave is useful for a number of reasons compared to head mounted displays (HMDs),” he explains. “Systems like this are meant for collaboration. Typically we have 3-15 people from the client in the Cave at once. Looking at the same thing at the same time [means] they could be in there for 30 minutes or three hours. That would be on the edge of difficult and uncomfortable if it was attempted with HMDs — not to mention you would have to ensure people are not always running into each other.”

Fisher notes that the Cave is also a significantly better option in terms of resolution, optics, field of view, and color quality.

Why do our Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets suddenly seem so June 2016?

Emerging Tech

Inside the Ocean Cleanup’s ambitious plan to rid the ocean of plastic waste

In 2013, Boyan Slat crowdfunded $2.2 million to fund the Ocean Cleanup, a nonprofit organization that builds big, floating trash collectors and sets them out to sea, where they’re designed to autonomously gobble up garbage.
Gaming

These awesome free-to-play games might be even better than the ones you paid for

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially popular League of Legends.
Gaming

25 awesome indie games you should definitely be playing right now

These days, some of the best video games are made by independent studios. Here are 25 of the best indie games, whether you prefer grueling dungeon crawlers or otherworldly, meditative adventures.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Photography

Photography News: Instagram’s disappearing likes, the best photos of the year

In this week's Photography News, see why Instagram is testing a version that excludes the number of likes a post gets. Also, see the impressive winners from two photography contests and the latest features coming to the Fujifilm X-T3.
Emerging Tech

Troubleshooting Earth

It’s no secret that humans are killing the planet. Some say it’s actually so bad that we’re hurtling toward a sixth major extinction event -- one which we ourselves are causing. But can technology help us undo the damage we’ve…
Emerging Tech

Climeworks wants to clean the atmosphere with a fleet of truck-sized vacuums

Using machines that resemble jet engines, Climeworks wants to fight climate change by extracting CO2 from thin air. The gas can then be sold to carbonated drink and agriculture companies, or sequestered underground.
Emerging Tech

How 3D printing has changed the world of prosthetic limbs forever

When he was 13 years old, Christophe Debard had his leg amputated. Here in 2019, Debard's Print My Leg startup helps others to create 3D-printed prostheses. Welcome to a growing revolution!
Emerging Tech

Geoengineering is risky and unproven, but soon it might be necessary

Geoengineering is a field dedicated to purposely changing the world's climate using technology. Call it 'playing god' if you must; here's why its proponents believe it absolutely must happen.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Earth Day, indoor container farming, robot submarines

Today on Digital Trends Live, we discuss how technology intersects with Earth Day, a new Tim Cook biography, indoor container farming, robot spy submarines, A.I. death metal, and more.
Gaming

Google’s Stadia is the future of gaming, and that’s bad news for our planet

Google’s upcoming Stadia cloud gaming service, and its competitors, are ready to change the way gamers play, but in doing so they may kick off a new wave of data center growth – with unfortunate consequences for the environment.
Emerging Tech

Hawaiian botanists’ drone discovers a plant thought to be lost forever

In what may well be a world first, botanists in Hawaii recently used a drone to find a species of plant that scientists believed was extinct. The plant was located on a sheer cliff face nearly 20 years after its last sighting.
Emerging Tech

Alphabet’s Wing drones now have FAA approval to deliver packages in the U.S.

Alphabet Wing has become the first company to receive Air Carrier Certification from the FAA. This means that it can begin commercial deliveries from local businesses to homes in the U.S.
Emerging Tech

A battery-free pacemaker harvests and stores energy from heartbeats

Researchers in China and the United States have developed a new battery-free pacemaker which gathers its required electricity from the energy of heartbeats. Here's why that's so exciting.