While the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are excellent virtual reality devices, they don’t offer the kind of mobility seen in most people’s dream VR environment: the Holodeck from Star Trek. The Vive does allow more movement than the Rift, but it’s still restricted (and a bit hazardous) because of its tether.
Two years ago, reports surfaced of a system that, while not quite of Holodeck standards, could produce a more immersive VR experience by allowing people to move around freely in huge areas the size of warehouses.
Since that time, Melbourne, Australia-based Zero Latency has improved its software and hardware – some of which is provided by a military contractor - to the point where Sega is now working with it to bring the technology to Japan.
In the zombie shooter, up to six players join in the action at once and, thanks to the motion tracking tech, are represented in-game by virtual avatars - so you shouldn’t collide with someone while wearing a headset. There also safety mechanisms that prevent players from walking into walls. The Vive has a similar feature in its chaperone system.
The backpacks, which connect to all the gear, give feedback related to what’s happening in the game, and not just vibrations, there’s also heat and smell. I'm not sure if it could produce the scent of a zombie's rotting flesh, but it would definitely add to the immersion.
Sega, which owns many arcades in Japan, wants to introduce a shorter version of the game to the country that consists of 12-minute rounds (thery're normally 45 -50 minutes) and features new environments and characters.
"When we first tried the Zero Latency experience we were blown away," Kazuhiko Hayami of Sega Live said in a statement. "We are only at the early stages of understanding what free-roam VR is capable of. It's one of the most exciting technologies coming to market today."
Zero Latency is also working on deals to bring its VR technology to the US, China, Europe, and more locations in Australia. As a former laser tag fan, I can't wait to try it.