from the a-different-view dept.
The British Museum is running a trial of virtual reality technology with a view to offering it as a permanent tool to explore its collection.
Families will be invited to navigate a virtual reality Bronze Age roundhouse and interact with 3D scans of objects. In June, London's Natural History Museum also started using VR technology. Both museums are using Samsung Gear VR headsets.
Only visitors aged 13 or over will be allowed to use the headsets in the British Museum. Families with younger children can use a Samsung Galaxy tablet or enter a dome with an interactive screen.
Visitors will be able to explore different interpretations of how the objects might have been used in the past. Among those on display will be two gold bracelets, discovered at a site in Gloucestershire, and treasures that the museum has not yet acquired. Other objects include a bronze dagger that was not intended for practical use because the blade was never sharpened and a bronze loop - believed to be a bracelet.
Chris Michaels, head of digital and publishing at the British Museum, said: "It gives us the chance to create an amazing new context for objects in our collection, exploring new interpretations for our Bronze Age objects."
Emily Smith, Head of Audience Development at the Natural History Museum, told the BBC: "The VR experience has been hugely popular with visitors. "We've increased the number of slots and are now running the experience daily in response to demand. Visitors have even been bursting into spontaneous applause at the end of the showings."
Tom's Hardware conducted an interview with Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR. The defining takeaway? Virtual reality needs as much graphics resources as can be thrown at it:
Tom's Hardware: If there was one challenge in VR that you had to overcome that you really wish wasn't an issue, which would it be?
Palmer Luckey: Probably unlimited GPU horsepower. It is one of the issues in VR that cannot be solved at this time. We can make our hardware as good as we want, our optics as sharp as we can, but at the end of the day we are reliant on how many flops the GPU can push, how high a framerate can it push? Right now, to get 90 frames per second [the minimum target framerate for Oculus VR] and very low latencies we need heaps of power, and we need to bump the quality of the graphics way down.
If we had unlimited GPU horsepower in everybody's computer, that will make our lives very much easier. Of course, that's not something we can control, and it's a problem that will be solved in due time.
TH: Isn't it okay to deal with the limited power we have today, because we're still in the stepping stones of VR technology?
PL: It's not just about the graphics being simple. You can have lots of objects in the virtual environment, and it can still cripple the experience. Yes, we are able to make immersive games on VR with simpler graphics on this limited power, but the reality is that our ability to create what we are imagining is being limited by the limited GPU horsepower.
[...] The goal in the long run is not only to sell to people who buy game consoles, but also to people who buy mobile phones. You need to expand so that you can connect hundreds of millions of people to VR. It may not necessarily exist in the form of a phone dropping into a headset, but it will be mobile technologies -- mobile CPUs, mobile graphics cards, etc.
In the future, VR headsets are going to have all the render hardware on board, no longer being hardwired to a PC. A self-contained set of glasses is a whole other level of mainstream.
[More after the Break]