On our website, in our brochures, and in the majority of our posts, you will see us at Imagine 4D celebrating the fact that no head-mounted displays, or VR goggles are required within Station IX to view 3D content. You may be wondering why we are so excited about this, or even how this fact sets us apart significantly from other virtual reality technologies and immersive display solutions.
Let’s first take a moment to define virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR), so that it becomes clearer why Reflected Reality (RR) offered by Station IX is so remarkable.
– Virtual Reality (VR): Your environment is completely digital. The user is fully immersed in a digital environment that shuts out the physical world, but in order to achieve this, one must usually wear a head-mounted display, or VR goggles.
– Augmented Reality (AR): Virtual objects are added into a real-world environment. Often using a camera on a smartphone or tablet, digital elements are layered on top of actual settings. If you own a modern smartphone, you can easily download an AR app and try this technology. Examples of AR include Snapchat lenses and the IKEA Place app.
– Mixed Reality (MR): Combines elements of both AR and VR. Headwear is necessary to experience MR. There are 2 kinds of MR technology, which Forbes expertly explains:
- Starts with the real world – Virtual objects are not just overlaid on the real world but can interact with this environment. In this case, a user remains in the real-world environment while digital content is added to it; moreover, a user can interact with virtual objects.
- Starts with the virtual world – The digital environment is anchored to and replaces the real world. In this case, a user is fully immersed in the virtual environment while the real world is blocked out. The main difference between this form of MR and VR is that the digital objects overlap the real ones whereas in conventional VR, the virtual environment isn’t connected to the real world at all.
There are a variety of immersive display solutions on the market, as well as several virtual reality options that are available for purchase.
Most immersive environments use a series of projectors and screens to present images to viewers in a collaborative fashion. Unfortunately, imagery projected directly onto screens does not provide a real sense of 3D and depth. This phenomena is also present when imagery is viewed on a TV screen or in a movie theater. Headwear such as VR goggles and head-tracking are used to mitigate this problem, increasing the sense of immersion and creating 3D imagery, but this solution leads to a secondary problem.
Virtual reality headsets usually accommodate one person at a time and thus limit collaborative efforts. It tends to be a single user experience. Although it is possible to have shared virtual reality experiences with these headsets on, it is limited in terms of allowing viewers to assess body language and communicate without interference.
These headsets also have a variety of other limitations:
- The headsets can feel bulky and uncomfortable.
- Use time is limited due to eye fatigue and virtual reality sickness. Simply put, the eyes are informing the brain that it is moving, but your body still feels as though it is in a stationary position like standing or sitting. There are many symptoms associated with virtual reality sickness, but the most common are: nausea, vomiting, general malaise, headache, and issues with balance after a virtual reality experience.
- Rapid obsolescence. Headsets tend to be outdated after 2 years on the market.
Overall, these physical and technological symptoms impact the quality of training or general desired experience.
The Station IX Solution: Reflected Reality
Our goal is to create the most immersive and collaborative spaces for our customers without the limitations of virtual reality. Our solution is Reflected Reality. We have designed an optical system that uses curved mirrors and a curved projection screen, which relies on an Imagine 4D developed technology known as Virtual Imaging Technology. The latter is the science of controlling the shape and location of imagery reflected from curved mirrors.
When you view images in a mirror, they appear to be behind the mirror, and are called virtual images. Station IX uses these virtual images and the ways in which the human body perceives the depth of these images, to create an actual sense of three dimensions.
Human beings have evolved to not only use multiple depth cues to perceive depth, but to rely on different depth cues depending on how far away an object appears. For objects that are very close to us (within approximately 10 ft.), human beings perceive depth primarily through physiological cues. For objects very far from us (more than approximately 100 ft.), we perceive depth primarily through psychological cues. At intermediary distances, we use a mixture of the two types of depth cues to determine depth.
When immersive displays are placed 10 feet or less from us, the imagery tends to look very flat and two dimensional, as we are using physical depth cues to determine this fairly accurately (i.e. the imagery does not look or feel realistic).
In using mirrors as Station IX does, viewers feel like they’re viewing objects at an accurate distance. We present imagery behind the mirror at a distance where the physical cues are correct, and with accurate psychological depth cues to indicate a 3D image. Curved mirrors cause virtual images’ depth to vary depending on the viewer’s position relative to the mirror, which allows the images to feel more three dimensional and realistic.
Station IX is a display system based on reflected imagery and appears completely three dimensional with an accurate sense of depth.
We circumvent the need for headwear, which avoids the physiological problems associated with virtual reality, as well as allows for a truly collaborative environment in which to train teams, view design projects as a group, and many other applications. Imagine 4D offers a space allows for a true sense of 3D and complete immersion. Check out our blog post Station IX – Virtual Reality Without Googles to learn more even more about Reflected Reality.
Experience Reflected Reality
Although our website is filled with pictures, videos, and posts describing what Station IX is capable of, it is impossible to know exactly how close to reality you can get within this immersive display environment online. If you would like to experience Station IX first hand than contact us to book a demo at our headquarters in Montreal, Canada.