Seasick through the data glasses

Seasick through the data glasses

Putting on glasses and experiencing other worlds without having to leave the room: This is the special thing about virtual reality technology and at the same time your problem. Because many users do not tolerate the difference between real and virtual world, they get dizzy or bad. This so-called” motion sickness ” is a major problem of virtual reality technology, said Eike Langbehn, VR expert at the University of Hamburg.

About half of all users are affected. “Seeing a virtual locomotion, but in reality not feeling any acceleration, can lead to this feeling, which is comparable to seasickness,” he says. The 32-year-old has a doctorate on the subject at the University of Hamburg and founded the start-up Space Walk together with former PR expert Dennis Briddigkeit, 31, and VR designer Hannah Paulmann, 26, who wants to solve the problem.

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For their company, the three founders received the Exist scholarship from the Federal Government, which supports students, university graduates and scientists in the implementation of their founding ideas in a business plan. The scholarship of the federal Government is designed for one year, the Hamburg-based company wants to use this time to further develop a prototype and make it runnable.

According to their own information, they have already gained partners from the entertainment industry for the test operation. Six of the developers work in an office space at the Computer Science department of the University of Hamburg in Stellingen. The office resembles many other university rooms: gray office furniture on rough carpeting. But when the window is open, the elephants can be heard in Hagenbeck’s zoo.

And on the floor, a red tape marks a four-by-four-meter square. Thus, a large part of the office is already filled, at the edge of the room there is a sofa and several desks, on which the prizes that the founders have already received are displayed.

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The 16 square meter area shows what the entrepreneurs of Space Walk have achieved so far: they have developed a prototype in which the player of a VR game moves within these 16 square meters, but walks through a virtual world that has a size of 42 square meters. “In this way, the players move more in reality, so they feel less bad,” says Briddigkeit.

The developers achieve this effect by placing the images of the virtual space slightly rotated on top of each other, and the player, when moving around the virtual space, unconsciously runs light curves in reality. Through this “redirected walking”, a player uses the space available to him more effectively, without suffering from the” motion sickness”.

On the one hand, this is interesting for private individuals, who usually have only a very limited area available on which they can play. Above all, however, the invention of the Hamburg founders is aimed at operators of VR escape rooms and large arcades for VR gaming, so-called “arcades”. The technology promises them more economic efficiency.

“Arcades” are gambling halls for computer games, as they are known in particular from Asia. Such public spaces for VR games are now also available in Germany, mostly in a much smaller form. In Hamburg, the “Holobar” on St. Pauli takes a similar approach.

Operators of such “Arcades”, of course, want to make the most of the area of their gambling halls in order to reach as many customers as possible. Accordingly, there is great interest in the development that is emerging at the Hamburg Computer Science Center and which is being discussed worldwide at industry conferences. The University of Hamburg is currently considered the global pioneer in this field, with further approaches coming from Japan and the USA.

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The idea is basically applicable to all industries that use VR technology, in which virtual paths are traveled, says Eike Langbehn. This can happen in logistics, for example, when warehouse workers use VR glasses to learn how they should move around the warehouse and which processes make sense. Space Walk initially focuses on the gaming industry, not only because all three founders are avid gamers themselves, but above all because they see the greatest economic potential in this area.

Hamburg is very suitable as a location, says Langbehn. “The gaming industry here is big, this infrastructure helps us connect.”However, direct business relationships have not yet been established in this way. “Most gaming companies in Hamburg are still focusing on the classic games for the computer or for the mobile phone. The VR games are currently being developed in Asia and the USA.“

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