March 21, 2017

When you’re deeply immersed in virtual reality, you usually can’t interact with real world objects. HTC has attempted to fix this with the creation of their tracking puck, which gives its lighthouses the ability to see the position of an object and track it in real time. Disney thinks they can circumvent this however, and has showed off a demo where they are able to track a tennis ball while a user is immersed in a wholly virtual space.

So how does the company do this? It uses special motion sensors that tracks the ball, your hands, and your head, and uses software to predict its arc and movement. This works pretty wholly differently from what other developers are doing to interact with real objects in a virtual space, and even with early prototypes, the method is looking quite promising. Even by only showing users the position of the ball at any given instance and the trajectory of the ball, testers were able to catch the ball almost every time, as their brain can help do the positioning calculations for them.

In the video above, you can see a number of trials testing user’s ¬†ability to catch balls that are not even being tracked in real time, and just show the trajectory they are headed in based on initial movement. This is pretty substantial, as it means the human brain is able to fill in a lot of the gaps that our computers may not be able to track, and could open up quite a lot of possibilities for the future of the space.

While this technology is currently in the extremely early stages of development, it will be interesting to see where this progresses in the future.

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