Virtual reality can bring immersive cinema feelings

Hybrid Virtual Environment 3D

On May 19, Paris’s first virtual reality (VR) theatre opened its doors.

It promises viewers an unparalleled experience using VR headsets and headphones that propel them into a virtual world for 40-minute shows.

Yet the designer Tomás Dorta, a professor at the University of Montreal, does not believe in it.

“Viewers wearing individual headsets are isolated from others, which is contrary to the collective experience we are looking for when we go to the movies,” he explained.

With two doctoral students, he wanted to measure the virtual reality experience and compared VR headsets with an immersive projection system.

The system used a concave-spherical screen, developed by his research team and called Hybrid Virtual Environment 3D (Hyve-3D).

The researchers immersed 20 participants of various ages in both types of virtual environments and noted their reactions and behaviour.

While viewers using VR headsets, they must continuously look around to explore the scene, which often hinders the storytelling and the cinema experience.

Hyve-3D viewers miss none of the action and have the same immersive feeling.

Moreover, VR headsets restrict users to an individual experience, in which a big part of the non-verbal communication (i.e., facial expressions, gestures, and postures) is precluded.

The researchers believe that fans of horror or action films will be much better served by a theatre equipped with a system such as Hyve-3D.

They are now working on a prototype that can be seen at the Hybridlab design research laboratory in the J.-Armand-Bombardier Pavilion, near Polytechnique Montréal.

The device is not limited to the entertainment industry.

Using a computer tablet interface, the researchers can literally walk into the projects they are working on.

Matching words with action, the researchers guided the Forum reporter through the halls of UdeM’s Faculty of Environmental Design, which he had previously modelled in 3D.

A feature of this system even allows people to position the furniture. You can see your house being built right before your eyes… as if you were there.

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News source: University of Montreal.
Figure legend: This image is credited to Professor Tomás Dorta.