Project Holodeck is a virtual reality platform built with consumer facing technology, cutting-edge custom software, and creatively integrated peripherals. The goal of Project Holodeck is to bring 360-degree full-body virtual reality out of the research lab and into a fun, accessible consumer gaming platform.
We are making the dream of a VR play space a reality, and at a affordable cost.
The project is part of the USC Games program, a joint effort between the Interactive Media Division (IMD) at the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) and the Department of Computer Science at the Viterbi School of Engineering.
The Holodeck system combines accurate head tracking, limited body tracking and simple button inputs in a large 3D space with full 360 degrees of movement. This space combines vehicular locomotion with natural movement in a play space. This way, players can move and interact in a personal “micro” space while also flying and exploring in vast “macro” space.
We have developed tools to create VR games specifically for this platform. This includes a networked first-person prototyping system, pre-warping for optics, and hardware agnostic input scripts.
The current hardware design of the Holodeck system uses the Oculus Rift for head mounted video feedback, the Playstation Move optical system for head tracking, and the Razer Hydra magnetic system for limited body tracking. When combined, these systems allow us to create a realistic 3D space that the user can freely move around in and interact with.
The Oculus Rift:
Palmer Luckey, our hardware advisor and pioneer of Oculus, has developed an affordable high-FOV head-mounted display called the Oculus Rift. Each of these VR headsets utilize two specifically sized and tuned lenses to amplify a 1280×800 resolution screen into two oculi. Players can see a stereoscopic 3D image with a 90-degree horizontal FOV and 105-degree vertical FOV. This isn’t like watching a floating television – this is true immersion in a virtual world with simulated peripheral vision.
The Playstation Move system is used to provide head tracking data that can fed into the Oculus Rift.
The Playstation Eye camera has a 75 degree horizontal field of view and a 56 degree vertical field of view. By tracking a Playstation Move wand, this gives us a rather large playspace to work with.
The Sixense Razer Hydra gives us fast and accurate six-axis tracking along with buttons and analog sticks.
Although the Holodeck will track parts of your body, your hands are still your most important input system and they must be tracked quickly and accurately.
The game engine we are developing in is Unity3D.
Unity is the first truly special next-gen game development tool. It combines power and flexibility with ease of use. The work we do in Unity can also be easily shared with the larger community of game developers and VR enthusiasts.