If you want to know what it feels like to fly like Superman a simple Kinect system will do the job. More generally, it demonstrates that low cost immersive virtual reality is not only possible but fairly easy.
OK so you are probably getting Kinect fatigue from all the wonderful things people are using it for - a new amazing demo seems to appear every day. But this one is slightly different. If you have ever dreamed of being Superman this is what you have been looking for.
Take one Kinect. Use its body tracking ability to write some code that animates a Superman 3D figure able to fly and do other cool stuff over a virtual Metropolis. So you hold out your hand and the figure flies and you can steer by pointing the direction you want to go in.
So far so good, but the killer feature is that the display is also hooked up to a pair of virtual reality glasses. Now you not only control the Superman figure - you get to see what he would see and in full 3D.
The effect is made even more convincing by the use of the Kinect to track the user's head movements and adjust the display to give the scene in the direction the user is looking in. The result is an immersive virtual reality effect on the cheap. Perhaps this is what VR has been waiting for to go mainstream.
The system was a created as part of a one-month MSc project in AI at the University of Amsterdam with support from the Intelligent Systems Lab. Although not strictly necessary for the research, they also added Superman's characteristic laser vision and freezing breath to make the experience more interesting.
The Kinect has made so many techniques affordable and practical that, even if you are slightly bored with news of its achievements, it has to be the technology of the year.
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