It’s what dreams are made of for any avid gamer – controlling an avatar with your body in real time.
Project Anywhere is the brainchild of Constantinos Miltiadis, a student at ETH Zurich, who claims to have created the most advanced virtual digital avatar, which allows multiple gamers on different continents to compete in the same virtual space.
One of the most interesting parts of the kit is a pair of lightweight 3D-printed so-called “Inteligloves”, which allow gamers to use their hands directly in a game, free of wires.
“This is an elastic PLA material that you can print on a home 3D printer. These are flex sensors, we have a wireless module. This is a nine degree of freedom inertia measuring unit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inertial_measurement_unit), so it has an accelerometer, gyroscope, and digital compass,” explains Miltiadis.
The user’s iPhone is fitted to a cheap 3D-printed plastic mask, enabling him to become fully immersed in the game.
A Kinect sensor connected to a Java program tracks the user’s exact position, while synchronising data from a web cloud. The software, called Omnitracker, can be accessed in games that use the cross-platform game creation system Unity 3D.
“I don’t know of anything else that can have your own body in a digital environment, so you can control an avatar through a joystick but your body doesn’t play any role. So if you can, in real time, interact in this kind of augmented reality environment and have your own body as a digital avatar, I think this is the different innovation that it brings,” says Miltiadis.
While shooting games are one of the most obvious beneficiaries of this technology, its inventor wants to use it to create a virtual museum, in which visitors equipped with the omni mask could download an application and move around in an empty space full of virtual exhibits – an idea which has already earned him an architectural design prize.