I hope I am right in saying that most of us have been to that one ‘ride’ in a theme park or museum, that attempts to emulate a roller coaster or a car ride, with images on every wall along with the sensation of wind in the hair.  The IglooVision concept is almost similar to this, except you are in a large igloo shaped dome with a PC and a first person shooter game.

In the marketing video above (much better than any one I took at the event), the gamer sits with a keyboard and mouse to enjoy the experience.  The version igloo had on display at GSL was a little different.

Let me set the scene – you are holding a gun like device with a sensor on it, and are standing in the middle of the igloo with a large field of vision screen showing Crysis 3.  There is an analog stick on the gun to strafe, but where you point the gun is where the screen will be looking.

The system uses five projection screens in the roof of the tent to broadcast the image you see, and anything outside the field of vision is black (otherwise you could look behind instantly).  If you turn 10 degrees in a direction, the system responds by moving the image around the inside of the tent and you are facing the new direction.  It sounds and looks amazing at first, with the minor downside that actually you are just rotating in a small tent.

The hardware under the system is actually quite interesting from our point of view.  The part which makes the IglooVision system theirs is the depth at which they integrate the system in to the rendering pipeline.  So on the base of it all is a system powered by an AMD Eyefinity card that outputs the image to five Mac Minis.  The Mac Mini’s have information about where the gun is pointing, and calculate how much of the original rendered image has to be shown on its projector.  The other difficult part of the equation is making the game recognize the difference between strafing and turning with the new input methods.

Obviously this is all still very early prototype stuff.  Ideally Igloovision would have it all minimized into one PC to power the five projectors, and make it work on any title possible.  I was told that the bulk of their code deals with OpenGL, but due to recent media coverage in the UK, NVIDIA have had interest and the company is dealing with NVIDIA and APIs under NDA to help improve the system.

My critiques came in a few parts – one was the resolution/quality (the overall output was only 720p), second was the frame rate which was around 20-25 FPS, and the third was the lag. Much like the problems Oculus has with head turning, IglooVision has the same here, and there was a noticeable lag in the system.  Talking to one of the team at the event, the fact it was an early prototype was repeated often enough that they know it is an area to work on!

IglooVision itself have marketed this technology for entertainment other than games, such as at Festivals or corporate events to promote products (with and without the motion sensing).  The company has 8 full time staff, and was initially funded through independent investors.  They have sold their system to at least one client, and as such are feeling the pressure of deadlines!  While the system overall is not one for the home, I can see use at LANs in terms of the gaming market.  Good luck to them, I would love to see it finished.  This is essentially what we should have had with the Wii on day one!

The Gadget Show Live, April 2013: Technology in the UK Gunnar: Eyewear for Gaming and IT Professionals
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  • jabber - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    The Gadget Show??? I must admit I don't know anyone that watches that show anymore. It was okay originally when they group tested the latest cameras and deep fat fryers but now it's all stupidly expensive Arab prince playthings. It comes to something when the cheapest stuff they show are Apple products. A reality disconnect. Oh and the presenters are dicks too. Reply
  • hughlle - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    Have to agree. It's in the name. Gadget. An igloo 360 degree gaming experience does not really fal into the notion of a gadget for me, considering the level of sophistication, let alone the size of the thing. Reply
  • IanCutress - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    There are two different markets for gadgets - the consumer or the business. Now I can't imagine an individual having a 360 gaming experience in the home unless they have the space and the cash, but there is scope for businesses to hire them for events, or use them as marketing tools to build new clients. In that sense, they are very much a gadget from my POV.

    Also the 'Live' show floor has very little to do with the OTA TV programme, except in name and advertising. There are corollaries between items featured in the TV Show and the event, mostly by virtue that the company making the product wants to advertise it to the event audience. Not once did I see or bump into any of the Gadget Show presenters.

    The TV broadcast doesn't specialise in any real field; their market is the non-enthusiast. As such, the non-enthusiast may not appreciate being told the difference between 18 different smartphones or laptops, only one or two, and they don't really care about the motherboard as they buy systems prebuilt. And in much the same way that Top Gear doesn't really review anything for regular people, TGS veers into that high end space more often than not in order to show 'here's something in the high end space''.

    Ian
    Reply
  • Modjo30 - Friday, April 05, 2013 - link

    Guess you don't watch it ever then because they are always testing the cheaper items, they were testing the latest touch screen camera's on the latest episode, costing £199 and £299, i wouldn't call that arab prince playthings really, However it is a bit like Top gear, an awful lot of people are interested in seeing these amazing gadgets and what peoples minds have thought up, you go back to your farm and your armish lifestyle Reply
  • cjs150 - Friday, April 05, 2013 - link

    The presenters are not dicks, they are too juvenile for their balls to have dropped yet.

    It is a show made by 9 year old boys for 9 year old boys (but with a pretty women as one of the presenters in case the 9 year old's elder brother (13) ends up watching it). Shame because some of the tech is truly interesting.
    Reply
  • takuan2uk - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    Hi, I used to be a Gadget Show fan as well, but it has long ceased to be a show aimed at techies and gadget freaks. As is common with many programs it has dumbed down and become more sensationalised so as to appeal to a wider audience. You can tell that they're milking it for all it's worth when they sent one of the presenters to Italy just to test out some (rather ordinary) headphones! Reply
  • AncientWisdom - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    Great write up, definitely some interesting ideas and gadgets presented.

    very interested in a follow-up of the Gunnar products as well as the group robot stuff which I find very stimulating intelligently speaking.
    Reply
  • NobleKain - Monday, April 08, 2013 - link

    AncientWisdom ~
    Following this write-up, I went and bought a pair of the Gunnar's (Wi-Five model). I love them! My assumption is that since I have a FSA (health savings account) that I haven't yet touched, I can probably get them reimburesed given their purpose (Note: I have not yet attempted reimbursement, so don't trust that it is possible... I just assume it is).

    Anyway, I have had my pair since last Friday (4/5/13). I absolutely love them. I'm a comp programmer, so I spend 8+ hours a day in front of my PC, followed by an evening of reading on my iPad mini. They make a HUGE difference, but you should note: it takes awhile to get used to them (it took me a little over an hour). While the magnification is minor, it's enough to "weird" out your eyes. I presume this is because your eyes are used to working harder. Whatever the reason, it takes a bit to get comfortable with them, but after the hour, I can now wear them without issue. Also, I no longer need a "warm-up" to them. They simply work comfortably.

    Another caveat; the magnification REDUCES the clarity of anything more than 10ft. away. Again, this is very, very minor, but it is worth noting. These won't be all-day replacements for all activities. These are single-purpose glasses, IMO... looking at computer screens.

    I got the yellow'd tinted versions, and I'd suggest you do the same, unless you NEED the clear versions.

    Anyway, as a customer, I'm very happy with my purchase - and if I'm correct that I can use my FSA funds, I'll be even happier. Either way, it's worth it (I paid $106 after tax). I'm tempted now to get a pair for home, so I don't have to bring these ones back and forth.
    Reply
  • dylan522p - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    Great write up, but I feel like the gadget show is not about gadgets. Reply
  • jabber - Thursday, April 04, 2013 - link

    We used to go to the Stuff show at the end of the year. Then the next day we visited Selfridge's home entertainment and computer dept. We found 95% of the gear on show at the Stuff show in there...and it didn't cost anything to go in.

    Suffice to say we don't bother paying/visiting that many gadget/tech shows these days.
    Reply

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