I have recently been able to experiment with multiple variations on VR (Virtual Reality). I have tried straight Google Cardboard, View-Master Virtual Reality, IonVR and Oculus Rift. Today I got to try The VOID (Vision of Infinite Dimensions). I have been impressed with all of them to varying degrees but it wasn’t until Saturday afternoon that I literally had my mind blown! The experience I went through was advertised as a beta. If this is the beta I can’t wait to see the final product!
Here in Utah there is a small city by the name of Lindon with a population of just over 10,000 in 2013. It is on the outskirts of Provo, the home of BYU. Here in this small city is something HUGE that will change the face of VR and entertainment!
The VOID is built on the premise that there are an infinite number of dimensions or realities that are waiting to be explored. Each of these dimensions can be built in the virtual world and with a little bit of help from the physical world they can become a full on reality. The worlds are constructed in the real world with walls, ramps, floors and special effects like fans, water misters and heat lamps. All the real world items are overlaid with images in the virtual world that present you with a new “dimension” that you can interact with. You can touch the walls, you can feel the ground, you can feel the air on your face and the heat of a fire. The possibilities are endless!
When I first arrived at The VOID for my scheduled visit I was greeted by one of the employees who informed my wife and I that they were having some technical difficulties but hope to be back online shortly. They had a few false starts but after a little bit more than an hour they were back online and my wife got to through what they referred to as The Research Facility. In the Research Facility you suit up with a VR helmet that is comprised of a headset, headphones and a microphone, you strap on a backpack and then grab your plastic assault rifle. Once you’ve got the helmet on everything is pitch black and you can barely hear everything over the sound dampening effect of the headphones.
All of a sudden the screen goes blue and a computerized voice (much like that of Cortana in Halo) comes on and instructs you on how to use your weapon to hit some targets. It wasn’t that hard, just point and pull the trigger. As I pulled the trigger I moved the gun and could actually see it in my hands and moving in front of me! At the same time the screen turned blue the microphones apparently turned on because I could hear my wife expressing her amazement at how awesome and real everything looked and we’d barely even started! I looked over to where I heard my wife’s voice coming from and low and behold there was someone standing there in a black suit with orange highlights that totally reminded me of Tron (she said I was a black suit with blue highlights). Then I saw her turn her head and look at me! We couldn’t remove our hands from the guns in the VR world but we were able to “wave” at each other by pointing our guns in the air and waving them back and forth.
Once we hit the targets the voice tells us that we’re now ready to enter the portal and the view goes crazy with a bunch of lightning bolts that hit a spot directly in front of us and then opened a portal to The Research Station. The only real moment of disorientation I felt was when stepping through the portal. Once through the portal we were instantly attacked by a bunch of spiders. My wife hates spiders… She took great joy in taking her gun and blasting the spiders to gooey masses of greenish goop on the floor and walls. After destroying the first batch of spiders we walked through a room and discovered that the spider webs were real and we were walking through them. I’m not sure what the spider webs were made of but I assume they were strings hanging from the ceiling. Either way it felt gross and was my least favorite part of the experience. At least my face was covered so they didn’t get in my mouth!
As we approached a door in front of us it opened and presented a view of the outside world. We walked out on a walkway with no railing and could actually feel the breeze as we began to be attacked by drones that were coming at us. The breeze effect was due to some fans that blew the air at us when we came within range. We shot down the drones, walked back inside and found a room with a big cylinder specimen tube holding a huge alien that started banging its head on the glass trying to escape. It ends up escaping but we blasted it to smithereens before it killed us. At that point one last door opens and the experience ended.
We were in for just barely more than five minutes but it was totally worth the hour wait!
Normally when you see trailers for video games or things like this you only see the highlights and the good looking aspects of it. I can honestly say that the trailer below is quite literally almost exactly the experience I went through.
I was able to talk to several of the employees and some of the brains behind the operation and although I was asked not to write about all the specifics it was an amazing experience. I can tell you from visiting with them that there is an awesome product here and I can’t wait to see what the final product is like!
For additional information you should check out the article and video from Tech Insider, “Inside the Virtual Reality Theme Park The VOID.”
If you are out here in Utah make sure to give it a try! You can check for openings and get updates on their progress at thevoid.com.