Distracted driving demonstration

From the Detroit Auto Show, The Verge describes a demonstration by Toyota of the effects of distracted driving through a VR simulation.

The Rift’s head tracking makes it an inspired choice here, since Toyota can actually tell if you’re not paying attention to the road. The immersion reduces distractions from the outside and can create a sense of urgency — even, in a crash, fear.

The descriptions I’ve seen in this article, on TechCrunch’s coverage, and elsewhere make it sound extremely immersive.  Now that they have a good driving experience, I wonder what else they’re going to do with it.

This is your brain on Virtual Reality

ScienceDaily summarizes research being conducted which can help diagnose Alzheimer’s.  With a VR headset the researchers have been able to produce clinically significant diagnosis results that detect Mild Cognitive Impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s.

A large number of older adults use computerized cognitive training exercises/games as an easy and enjoyable means of exercising their brain. If these games and exercises can also detect cognitive disorders, the whole cognitive screening process could become more pleasurable, thus motivating more people to be evaluated. With the majority of older adults examining their cognitive health regularly through such games, possible cognitive impairment will be detected at the MCI stage thus allowing patients to enjoy a better quality of life and remain independent for a longer time.

Forensic viewing goggles

TheMarySue writes about a project called the “Forensic Holodeck,” which allows the recreation of a crime scene in virtual reality.

Ebert and his colleagues are currently developing a program they’re calling the “Forensic Holodeck,” which uses the immersive technology of virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift to place viewers directly inside 3d reconstructions of crime scenes.

It also mentions allowing jurors to see the reconstruction from the point of view of potential witnesses to help judge their veracity.

The cake is a lie…

A brief article on Salon discusses the work of Kokiri Lab, which is attempting to create the experience of eating in virtual reality:

“What makes this so unique is that the experience merges physical and virtual environments into one, which means you can still chew, feel, smell and taste, but without taking in calories,” An said in an interview with the Telegraph. “We think this experience could be used to allow people with obesity, diabetes or any dietary restrictions to eat anything they desire without the negative consequences.”

I’m actually kind of curious what the body’s reaction is to it.  Would it release insulin if you thought you were eating sugar but were really eating virtually nothing?

Virtuix raises more cash

Another round of funding was closed by Virtuix, the company making the Omni Treadmill.

Jan Goetgeluk, the chief executive of Houston, Texas-based Virtuix, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company will use the new money to continue research and development on new virtual reality applications even as it readies its treadmill for its launch.

R&D is nice, but it seems like they should focus on actually shipping their product…