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New Technology Shows Off A Primitive Version Of Star Trek's Holodeck
Posted by Joseph Lee on 04.26.2014



IGN has a report of the Tribeca Film Festival's Storyscapes attraction in New York City, which is a collection of "transmedia" projects and includes what could be considered a prototype for what could be a holodeck right out of Star Trek.

One of the devices on display was the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, with a still image from a short film called Rise. In the IGN report, Scott Collura said: "It all felt pretty artsy and experimental and essentially consisted of a man, a robot, and a bomb appearing and disappearing at various points in an old warehouse… a warehouse that I felt I was in as well. While a voiceover played during the experience, I wasn't really picking up on the details of it as I was too taken by the VR environment I had found myself in. Look up, look down, look to the left, to the right… even look around the freaking pole in front of you, and you can see behind it! It's like the Voight-Kampff Esper photo analysis machine from Blade Runner finally makes sense! And indeed, the idea here is that eventually an entire film -- rather than just a moment from a film -- could be experienced in a VR environment."

There was also an interactive exhibit called "Clouds", in which the user could view it with the Oculus Rift or Kinect. 3D-scanned interviews with "artists and hackers" provided a "non-linear documentary experience". "Use of Force" showed how the technology can be used to show users actual moments in time. The "Use of Force" display places the user into a 2010 incident in which Anastasio Hernandez Rojas was killed by the border patrol, using witness testimonies and cell phone footage. Creator Nonny de la Peña said it was "immersive journalism."

"Circa 1948" is as close to a holodeck as we can get right now. It has a small room with projections on the walls, which is a computer-generated recreation of two areas in post-war Vancouver. It uses Kinect sensors to track the user's movements, allowing the user to essentially explore the setting ("two vibrant communities struggling through a time of unforgiving change"). You still can't touch anything in the world, however. It's also available as a mobile app, which likely isn't as impressive.

There is also a "Choose Your Own Documentary", featuring a stand-up performance from Nathan Penlington with film and interaction from the audience, who can decide where the story goes. Finally, the last exhibit is "On A Human Scale". It features walls of video screens with a pre-recorded face of someone in New York. The screens are connected to a keyboard and each key causes someone to sing a note. You can then type in a sequence to put together a song with people singing all around you.

It's not quite Star Trek yet, but it's clear that media technology is going to some interesting places in the near future. Check out clips of the "Storyscapes" exhibits below.








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