Virtual reality has made tremendous strides in the past few decades, reaching a point where it is now integrated into numerous professions and embraced by enthusiastic individuals and even casual users alike. It serves as a platform for creation, exploration, and most importantly, complete immersion into virtual experiences.
Within this article, we shall explore the concept of full dive VR, pondering its feasibility in the present or imminent future, while also contemplating the potential boundaries that may hinder the realization of an utterly authentic and immersive virtual reality experience.
The ultimate VR adventure – complete immersion in virtual reality – remains an elusive goal that countless individuals yearn to materialize.
Input: “Full dive VR” – a term created by the Japanese light novel Sword Art Online in 2009 and later popularized by movies such as Ready Player One; refers to a form of virtual reality immersion where individuals completely immerse themselves in the virtual realm, detaching from the constraints of the real world.
The experience would resemble virtual teleportation, akin to a lucid dream, yet heightened with an unparalleled level of consciousness, mirroring our understanding of reality as we presently perceive it.
The concept predates Sword Art Online and Ready Player One by a considerable margin. Notably, Sony Playstation embraced this idea in a grandiose manner through its “PS9” advertisement during the unveiling of the Sony Playstation 2 in 1999.
In the year of The Matrix’s release, the film took the world by storm, captivating both audiences and critics alike. It ingeniously introduced the notion of a simulated reality, effectively captivating the collective imagination and sparking intriguing debates.
In the year 1996, the ill-fated animated series “Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures” not only captivated audiences but also offered a remarkably immersive portrayal of a complete virtual reality expedition.
So, Is full dive virtual reality possible?
Absolutely! The possibilities are endless, although not quite within reach at the moment.
The extended response, undoubtedly, possesses a tad more intricacy, yet it also exudes a wealth of fascination.
The full-body tracking and haptics approach
The primary objective of this method is not to compel the VR user to completely detach from their physical reality. Instead, it emphasizes the emulation of the user, encompassing their bodily gestures, appearance, tangible attributes, and similar aspects, striving to mirror the real world to the utmost extent.
Simultaneously, this methodology emphasizes delivering haptic sensations to the VR user by employing advanced vibration and sensory-stimulation mechanisms, evoking a vivid experience of tactile interaction with virtual entities.
In all fairness, this stands as the sole classification of virtual reality technology and software that directly interacts with consumers. Although various strategies are employed in the accessible mobile sector and the precise high-end sector, the underlying concept remains rooted in immersing the user’s actions within a virtual realm while preserving their natural perception of the physical world.
The current state of full body tracking virtual reality
Currently, the realm of tracking technology is divided into two main approaches:
Both methods also depend on auxiliary and occasionally tertiary sources of monitoring information in the shape of controllers and optional supplementary trackers.
The epitome of a top-tier outside-in VR tracking and positioning solution lies within the Valve Index VR system, which heavily relies on sensors strategically placed in the room (requiring a minimum of two). This groundbreaking technology tracks the user’s movements through both the headset and the handheld controllers, ensuring an immersive experience like no other.
Optional body trackers can be easily affixed to various body parts, such as limbs, torso, or hands, enabling users to immerse themselves in a remarkably realistic virtual reality encounter with a near-perfect one-to-one tracking precision.
On one hand, we have the cutting-edge Varjo VR-2 Pro with its professional-grade features, while on the other hand, we have the consumer-friendly HP Reverb G2. However, stealing the spotlight is the highly anticipated Deca Gear 1 VR Headset, boasting top-notch inside-out tracking capabilities and a multi-camera setup.
Although we are still far from achieving complete full-dive VR tracking, advancements in technology continue to enhance its quality and affordability each year. This progress gives us hope for a future where we can effortlessly immerse ourselves in a Ready Player One-like full dive VR experience.
How haptic feedback suits are making full dive VR more plausible
The realm of consumer-level VR headsets often shatters the illusion without the aid of third-party solutions, known as haptic feedback. Fortunately, for those dedicated enough to invest both time and money in the set-up, there are existing alternatives that provide immersive haptic experiences throughout the entire body.
BHaptics, the reigning champion in this realm, leads the pack with a plethora of haptic wearables. From snug torso vests to immersive haptic VR head-cushions, and even attachable haptic devices for arms, feet, and hands, bHaptics delivers an unparalleled sensory experience.
Although bHaptics’s solutions possess an undeniable allure, when measured against the pro-grade Teslasuit, the offerings of bHaptics appear lackluster.
The teslasuit goes beyond bHaptic’s reliance on vibration motors for haptic feedback by utilizing electro-therapy to stimulate muscles, enabling the simulation of various sensations such as heat, shock, wind, cold, and vibrations.
The Teslasuit, a revolutionary full-body wearable suit, boasts an impressive price tag exceeding $2500. While primarily designed for training and rehabilitation purposes, the availability of software support for the Teslasuit beyond its niche applications remains uncertain.
The realm of haptics stands apart from tracking and conventional VR displays as we witness the existence of highly sophisticated haptic systems.
Nonetheless, the costs associated with acquiring a captivating haptics VR solution remain considerably steep, while the software assistance for anything other than the exceedingly popular innovations is insufficient.
The “Nerve-Gear” brain-computer interface approach
When the concept of full-immersion virtual reality crosses our minds, Nerve-Gear and the Matrix-like experience of effortlessly entering a digital realm, where the boundaries between reality and illusion fade away, become our immediate associations.
Despite the remarkable advancements in full-body tracking and the enhanced quality of haptics and sensory stimulations, our ability to perceive and interact with the physical realm suggests that a genuine full-dive encounter may still elude us.
Hence, emerges the alternate, significantly more audacious method towards virtual reality – the brain-computer interface (BCI) approach.
The viability of Non-invasive BCI for VR
Essentially, brain-computer interfacing refers to the fascinating possibility of connecting and commanding a machine through the sheer force of electrical impulses generated by the human body.
Countless innovative playthings have been inspired by this very idea. Each of these gadgets typically features an embedded EEG (electroencephalogram) monitor, diligently overseeing cerebral activity and translating it into various motions or computer operations. This extraordinary phenomenon is commonly referred to as “non-invasive” BCI.
In the realm of non-invasive BCI, groundbreaking advancements outshine all other types of BCI endeavors. Remarkably, a recent innovation in this field has led to the creation of an exhilarating VR game for the HTC Vive, where the conventional head cushion is ingeniously substituted with an EEG monitor. Notably, Emotiv and other visionary companies are actively offering EEG-based BCI solutions for both research and business applications at present.
The challenge associated with the non-invasive BCI method stems from our limited understanding of the intricate workings of the human brain. It remains a mystery how the brain operates universally, and even more so when considering the variations that arise due to factors like age, disease, gender, upbringing, trauma, and numerous other influences.
Semi-invasive and invasive brain-computer interfacing
Input: Let’s be honest, the prospects for full dive VR in the next decade seem rather bleak. However, there are two other fascinating fields of exploration in BCI: semi-invasive and invasive Brain-computer interfacing.
Elon Musk recently unveiled an extraordinary illustration of a partially invasive mind-to-machine connection called Neuralink. This groundbreaking technology showcases a compact chip resembling a coin, discreetly nestled within the confines of an individual’s cranium. Through a meticulous surgical procedure, electrodes are meticulously placed on the brain’s exterior, enabling the remarkable capacity to both decipher cerebral patterns and manipulate them by scripting intricate codes.
Musk envisions a future where the primary objective is to conquer impairments associated with the brain and spine. This entails developing a neural link that surpasses spinal injuries. However, the possibilities extend far beyond that, as future advancements might enable individuals to conveniently safeguard and retrieve their own memories. Furthermore, the potential exists for seamless interaction between the human brain and computers, just like any ordinary device.
Despite this, Musk himself acknowledged that Neuralink’s main objective is to delve into the possibilities of these partially invasive methods in advancing brain-computer interface technology.
Alongside Neuralink, there exists another pioneering research startup named Kernel, dedicated to pursuing a similar objective. Notably, Kernel has been delving into the realm of invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) research for an extended period, even preceding Neuralink’s endeavors.
In a bid to explore innovative possibilities, DARPA is currently financing a groundbreaking endeavor known as Stentrode project, with a whopping budget of $60 million. This ambitious initiative aims to create an advanced intracranial electrode array capable of both recording and stimulating brain activity.
Although invasive BCI may never reach the status of a full dive VR standard, the advancements made in these studies are poised to greatly contribute towards the development of a non-intrusive Nerve Gear-inspired BCI, paving the way for its future commercial application.
The world of BCI holds the undeniable allure of an ultimate full-immersion VR adventure awaiting us in the future. With constant advancements in this realm occurring almost every month, it becomes a daunting task to accurately gauge how close we truly are to this extraordinary reality. Nevertheless, the mere possibility that this groundbreaking experience might be within reach is undeniably enthralling.
Other technologies that could potentially help reach the full dive VR dream
Besides enhancing haptics, visuals, screens, scents, and audio, numerous captivating technologies and fields of scientific exploration are currently under development. These advancements hold the potential to genuinely fulfill the long-awaited virtual reality dream of immersive experiences.
At the forefront of these advancements lies the remarkable electronic skin, also known as e-skin. E-skin represents a groundbreaking technology of wearable electronics and sensors that possess such remarkable flexibility and feather-like weight that they seamlessly blend into clothing, remaining utterly imperceptible to the user.
Xenoma’s diverse range of e-skin products is known for its remarkable focus on medical applications and monitoring requirements. However, their potential extends far beyond as they possess the ability to seamlessly adapt and retrofit into the immersive realm of full-dive VR. By harnessing cutting-edge software, the e-skin technology can effortlessly monitor an array of bodily metrics and physical activities, ultimately enabling the VR experience to dynamically adapt and align with the user’s needs and preferences.
In the realm of neuroscience, the tireless efforts to intricately map the human brain using advanced brain scans not only pave the path towards enhanced brain-computer interfaces but also contribute immensely to the creation of virtual reality realms that truly captivate our senses. An equally crucial domain that plays a pivotal role in achieving full-dive virtual reality is the fascinating realm of neuro-prosthetics.
The realm of neuro-prosthetics technology revolves around converting brain signals, particularly those originating from the motor cortex, into actionable commands. These signals are subsequently transmitted to a computer, which has the remarkable capability to translate them into physical movements. This groundbreaking technology enables the execution of motions either by a robotic limb or by utilizing implanted electrodes in the individual’s muscles.
Mastery of motor cortex signals holds the key to unlocking the seamless and organic movement of a user engrossed in full-dive VR.
While immersed in a state of partial awareness during a full dive, it becomes crucial to prioritize overriding the transmission of motor cortex signals to prevent any unintended physical movements in the real world that may potentially harm the virtual reality user or those in their vicinity.
The mention of cochlear implants brings to mind yet another fascinating neuro-prosthetic innovation. These remarkable devices utilize electronic signals to grant the gift of hearing to individuals who are deaf. This groundbreaking technology effectively connects with the cochlear nerve, enabling the perception of sound.
Proposing the reengineering of these technologies into VR devices might seem far-fetched, bordering on the absurd. Nevertheless, it remains an intriguing concept with potential. Theoretically, the implementation is within the realm of possibility.
Possible limitations of full dive VR
Input: Although it may seem exhilarating to envision full-dive VR as the ultimate pinnacle of immersive technology, it is crucial to acknowledge that, akin to its predecessors, full-dive VR is not exempt from constraints.
How long till full dive VR become a real-world reality
Input: Will we witness the emergence of immersive VR gadgets in the upcoming decade? It’s highly unlikely, at least not to the extent we have envisioned. But can we anticipate such advancements within the next two decades? Perhaps.
Despite the lingering sense of anticipation surrounding the potential of future advancements, it must be acknowledged that although our boundless imagination has cultivated visions of the limitless possibilities that such an immersive experience could offer, the actual attainment of full-dive virtual reality technology is still in need of significant progress.
As technology strives to bridge the gap, possibly within the next three to ten decades, it shall inevitably confront a myriad of bioethical dilemmas. These quandaries act as the ultimate hurdle, impeding the technology’s potential as a feasible entrepreneurial venture.
When that moment eventually arrives, a remarkable revolution shall descend upon us, beckoning the entire world to plunge headlong into its captivating depths.