Alex Souza from Utah Geek Magazine demoed “Curse of the Serpent’s Eye” this summer for a behind the scenes look at how hyper-reality experiences are created.
They call it “Hyper Reality.”
“That’s a term we’ve coined to describe what we’re doing,” says James Jensen, Chief Visionary Officer and co-founder of THE VOID. He’s outside their attraction stage, a 30 by 30 ft. arena that’s only a quarter of the size of what their final Dimension Stages will be. “Everyone else is doing virtual reality, but hyper reality is a blend between the physical world and the digital world.”
THE VOID can be hard to imagine, because it exists in a nether between the physical and the virtual. It’s an immersive experience that needs to be seen in order to be truly understood. Even then, it’s incredible that it exists.
What Jensen and the other co-founders, Curtis Hickman and Ken Bretschneider, are doing is a blend of mediums. Virtual reality is part of it—a huge part of it—but THE VOID is also part movie production, part amusement park, part theatrics, and part illusion. It’s the marriage of all those elements that creates something much bigger, more revolutionary than anything that’s come before.
I faced a blank wall, suited up in patented Rapture gear, THE VOID’s proprietary equipment designed from the ground up for their experiences. I waited in darkness, the visor of my Rapture HMD—the head-mounted display—flipped down over my eyes.
The headgear looks like a bike helmet, and it fits like one too. It’s packed with equipment, screen, optics, high-end headphones, and a microphone. It’s a snug fit, and any noise around me is muffled. Standing there, waiting, is almost like being in sensory deprivation.
The HMD is wired to the backtop computer, which is strapped to the back of the vest. It’s the nerve system of the Rapture equipment. The computer is the first of its kind, built with a custom motherboard and BIOS. It renders the graphics in real-time for the user and communicates the data to a central game server, connecting everyone in the experience together.
The whole set-up weighs about 13 pounds, and most of that comes from the hot-swappable battery pack, which allows them to change the power supply out while the computer still runs so they never have to take a vest offline.
Jensen says that the equipment will only get smaller and faster as they move forward, but even now it’s unobtrusive and I hardly notice the weight.
The whole set-up has been designed for safety and ease of use.
“Most HMDs in the market are bricks strapped to your face,” says Jensen. “If you take a hit in that it crushes your face. You take a hit in ours and you just bounce right off.”
Continue reading on Utah Geek Magazine.