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Digital Shoreditch festival open house displays latest in immersive visualisation

May 30, 2013 | Telepresence Options

oculus rift vertigo

Story and Images by Oliver Wainwright / ISPR

The future of virtual reality: want to conquer vertigo or have a go at surgery?

Now you can with the next level of 3D technology - which defies gravity and lets you come squeamishly close to death

Ever wondered what it would be like to tightrope walk above the city, dissect a human heart, and jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet - all in one afternoon? These are just some of the experiences on offer in a basement in east London, as part of the�Digital Shoreditch�festival next week, where the latest developments in immersive visualisation will be on show.

Stepping into the subterranean test space of 3D technology company�Inition, it feels like you have entered the gadget-strewn lair of James Bond's Q branch. Its bright white walls are lined with cameras and screens, egg-shaped experience pods and glowing motion-capture units. A 3D-printed brain stands to one side, while across the room a holographic image of a watch spins in front of a monitor. Violent grinding noises erupt from behind a door in the corner - it wouldn't be surprising if a velociraptor leapt out of the cupboard.

In this den of discovery, the company has been investigating the potential of real-time 3D-graphics for the last 12 years. Remember that glimpse of the future that never happened, watching Dominik Diamond and Patrick Moore fumbling around with virtual reality helmets and gloves on�Gamesmaster? Maybe you even had a go with one at the�Trocadero? Well that retro-futurist technology might just be making a comeback.

"VR never really took off in the way we all imagined," says Andy Millns, co-founder of Inition. The technology, which allows you to look around and walk through computer-simulated environments, has long been used in medical and military applications - training surgeons and treating troops with post-traumatic stress disorder - but the prohibitive price of headsets (around �50,000) always prevented it from reaching a mass audience.

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