In these earliest days of commercial viability, virtual reality is running up against the same wall as so many technologies before it: how does a company translate it for the majority of consumers who won’t be able to demo it in the wild?
HTC’s mixed reality is an interesting sort of work around, adding augmented reality to the equation, in order to offer a sort of voyeuristic interpretation of what players look like in a VR environment.
“Mixed Reality is the closest people can get to understanding what VR feels like by actually getting to see the player in the game,” explains JB McRee, the company’s Senior Manager of Product Marketing – Virtual Reality. “We’re recording the foreground, the player and the background, which is the green screen. We’re layering all of those together. That allows us to see the player in the environment. “
The result looks a bit rudimentary, pieced together in real time, the sort of green screen quality one might expect from cable access and the like, but it certainly gets the point across – at the very least, made us look slightly less dopey then we’ve looked all week donning VR helmets in crowded public spaces. With the addition of the space aliens from Space Pirate Trainer, passersby could tell that we were, in fact, saving the world all along.
McRee adds that the technology isn’t targeted at a commercial audience. Instead, HTC is aiming at companies looking to show off what they’ve been working on. “It’s for companies and developers who actually want to show people what they’re doing. Our marketing efforts are focused on getting Vive in the hands of as many people as possible. This is just a way to get people to actually experience what VR is.”