Video games…. Some people are obsessed with them, while others just don’t see the entertainment value that can be provided by controlling a character on a digital screen. Either way, the industry continues to grow and evolve. When playing third person perspective games such as Red Dead Redemption, Red Faction, or Dead Space, you have the uncanny ability to not only see the virtual world around you, as though you are actually in the game, but you have the ability to see your surroundings in a way that expands your visual perception. In most cases these games allow for an over/slightly behind the head few of your character and your character’s surroundings.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you could see the real world in this same third person perspective (TPP) that these video games provide? Well, one company, mepi, has thought quite hard about this, and thanks in part to 3D printing technology, has come up with a way of making this a reality in real life. mepi is a polish company that also runs an English language website, revolving around 3D modeling tutorials, Arduino and 3D printer maintenance, called tutorialbay.
They came up with the brilliant idea of creating a device that would allow for human beings to experience the world around them, via a third person perspective (TPP). Not only does this provide users with a new perspective on their surroundings, but it also enhances the human visual performance.
To create this robotic, virtual / augmented reality device, mepi used RepRap 3D printers to prototype the optics spacers and the mounts on the rig. 3D printing allowed certain parts of their design to be created in a totally custom and timely manner. Without 3D printing, the process would have been much more difficult, and this project may not have gotten off the ground.
As you can see in the video below, the robotic eyes are controlled using a joystick, and are located behind the subject and above their head. The computer system, runs using an Arduino device, as well as an Intel processor. The majority of the equipment is stored in a backpack that is worn by the subject operating the device. This subject also wears a pair of virtual reality glasses, which are hooked up in a way that displays what the robot eyes see, to the user.
When all of this is put together, we get a system that is capable of displaying the world around us in the third person perspective.
“This wearable can enhance human visual performance for use in real world applications, where extended vision benefits the user,” explained mepi CEO Bartosz Barlowski to 3DPrint.com.
Barlowski believes that real world TPP can open possibilities for many industries such as:
- Construction & architecture
- Live sports, concerts, and other outdoor entertainment
“Our goal is to develop TPP view for use in virtual reality devices and solve real world problems by using it to help users be more aware of their enviroment,” explained Barlowski. “Blind spots in interior car view, help[ing] an engineer navigate to the right place so he can perfom his work,” are a few possibilities. “Become a character… in real life,” he continued.
Barlowski believes that this new device has the ability to bring its users to a whole different level of immersion (in life). “This unique field of view for VR is something that distinguishes this concept from others in Virtual Reality development,” he tells us.
He also believes that TPP is being overlooked in favor of FPP (first person perspective), when it comes to virtual reality devices. He compares the benefits to that of the improvements in vision seen when playing video games. “Like in computer games, gamers prefer to use this extended view to navigate,” he explained. “We think it’s a unique approach for VR, and not many people are currently researching this opportunity.”
Barlowski brings up some really excellent points. Third person perspective does provide many benefits that traditional FPP virtual reality misses to point on. He hopes to be presented with business opportunities and perhaps partnership opportunities with companies like Facebook (Oculus Rift), Sony, and Epson. These companies are all releasing their virtual reality products, and he hopes to tap into that, by focusing on TPP.
What do you think? Could we one day live in a world where everyone’s vision is augmented to that of a third person reality? Imagine wearing computerized contact lenses with totally custom, 3D printed hardware connected to them via bluetooth, that are capable of picking up the vision of robotic third person perspective eyes. Discuss this in the Third Person Perspective Virtual Reality forum thread on 3DPB.com.
Check out the video demonstration of this TPP device below. Thanks to Barlowski for the in depth explanations he provided us with.