Steven Spielberg still draws crowds; spurred on by $500 million from Ready Player One, and without adjusting for inflation, his films have now achieved a combined gross of $10 billion. Spielberg’s incredible star power ramped up the hype in advance of the release Ready Player One, but the movie was already compelling for those interested in its virtual reality (VR) system. How possible is such VR tech? The reality of the virtual reality within Ready Player One can be assessed by looking at its different core capabilities and technologies.
Completely immersive virtual reality
The VR envisioned within Ready Player One offers total immersion, meaning that the objects and atmosphere within the space are directly accessible to the user. Players in the film can grasp or touch items that they see. They can lean or sit on objects within the environment.
VR with full immersion is a compelling but unpragmatic scenario when you consider the logistics, noted Kaylee Fagan. Within the movie, characters run across actual live three-dimensional space (in real reality, not virtual). In reality, incorporating public space in a VR setting would be extraordinarily dangerous.
While all-inclusive VR is currently implausible, immersion within virtual reality can be broad when a physical environment is designed step-by-step to reflect what is presented in the virtual world. An example in real life is The Void, a chain of high-profile VR theme parks.
Wade’s wireless headset
The script of Ready Player One does not take too much time explaining functionality of the technology – but there is plenty to see. The headsets used by Wade and many of the other players look like ski goggles. These wearable devices are wireless and lightweight, directly linking users to the Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation (OASIS) environment from any location. No outside hardware is needed beyond the headset.
Today’s virtual reality gear cannot yet achieve that setup, noted Janko Roettgers. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (the more sophisticated, higher-end VR technologies currently available) require a computer to power the system. The Gear VR (by Samsung) and other lower-end options use the smartphone of the customer to back the experience.
During an early moment in Ready Player One, Wade is able to use an omnidirectional treadmill to move around within the VR environment of OASIS. The mechanics with which people move in the space become more complex as the film continues. The army of “sixers” stand while each walking on separate treadmills, and they can operate cars when they are seated. In order for the Gunters to approach battle unhindered, the “High Five” is suspended with cables from the ceiling of Aech’s truck.
The truth in today’s world is that the omnidirectional treadmill has been invented, but problems still hold it back, said VR consultant Maggie Lane. Many of these devices have a similar micro/macro treadmill design to what is presented in the film. External sensors track the user’s motion. Location-based firms such as The Void are the closest thing to achieving motion via tethers, and those situations necessitate backpacks.
The haptic suits and gloves of the film are extraordinarily sensitive. Feedback and sensation are both enhanced and feel much more lifelike than is currently possible, as indicated by Heather Newman.
A study released in March by IDTechX found that the level of sophistication of VR sensitivity within Ready Player One will soon become possible, but that there are still developmental hurdles.
Tactile feedback is becoming standard in VR products, according to IDTechX. Both custom and more advanced VR systems now offer kinesthetic feedback (in which there is some amount of force presented to the body based on environmental interaction). It is uncommon in lower-end solutions. Even within the luxury VR systems, you will not find a thermal variation or other more sophisticated haptics features.
There is a single currency within the OASIS system. It is more trusted and has a stronger stability that the US dollar and other top currencies do in real life. Using these digital funds, Wade is able to purchase physical items through drones and can earn bonuses within the race when he pursues the egg. There are challenges that can be completed within OASIS that amount to proof-of-work – an essential step in validating a cryptocurrency.
The truth is that we do not have one universal currency or even one digital currency from which to choose. Cryptocurrency is untrusted and not considered a sound choice by many. High-profile problems in the arena have included false-starts in the projected initiation of cryptocurrencies – the initial coin offering (ICO) – to organizations building fraudulent legitimacy through boards with fictitious advisors. Many people do not believe that the systems used to manufacture digital currency are sufficiently protected against malicious interference. While concern about cryptocurrency is certainly widespread, many people are investing in this field, and it continues to grow. In fact, blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency, is rapidly being deployed as a security technology across industries.
The servers, the information technology infrastructure that allows for the storage and processing of data, make it possible for a VR world to come to life. The technology that underpins an environment such as OASIS uses the distributed architecture of cloud to improve efficiency and better protect data, and cloud computing technology has already been around for more than 20 years, so we’ve already seen significant advancements in its capabilities.
The reason that cloud is so integral to vast computing projects is that servers in a cloud data center are considered the preferable way to process data over giving them internal computing power when you are connecting objects to the Web. The efficiency of cloud also improves utilization of resources and decreases cost. In other words, cloud hosting is the technology in the background that brings the virtual OASIS a step closer to real reality.