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posted by janrinok on Wednesday August 05 2015, @04:44PM   Printer-friendly
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."


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Oculus VR Founder Palmer Luckey on the Need for "Unlimited Graphics Horsepower" 34 comments

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]

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05 2015, @05:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05 2015, @05:14PM (#218650)

    So you get to experience Bronze Age VR? What did the headsets look like back then?

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday August 05 2015, @06:21PM

      by VLM (445) on Wednesday August 05 2015, @06:21PM (#218695)

      So you get to experience Bronze Age VR? What did the headsets look like back then?

      A minecraft mod called TerraFirmaCraft. Still available in the FTB launcher, AFAIK.

      From memory about one or two years ago it worked great under linux (never used minecraft under anything but linux, well, freebsd now) although gameplay needed work, I got pretty sick of starving to death and also completely tired of running out of clay to make pots and stuff. Another annoyance was if you ran it on a server it mapped the 24 hour day to the calendar year so given my bizarre working schedule I spent most of my server gameplay starving to death in the winter aka early morning.

      Gameplay is weird for minecraft... you can't really dig until you're in the metalworking era, the effort to make a simple pick is immense, but once you get it you can build an entire (small) base with one pick, its not like wood picks in vanilla. Its crafting was sort of a slightly more realistic TC.

      For years TFC has been the butt of jokes about modpack design, like what could possibly work better with TFC than AE, for example. A non-snarky answer about TFC in a modpack would probably be something like botania or thaumcraft. Or if you want to go all Aztec on some poor zombies, maybe Blood Magic.

      Anyway not kidding around: some archeologist should totally "science up" something like TFC to reflect reality and release it. The real bronze simulator may somehow be even less fun than TFC, but at least it would be realistic and possibly interesting.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05 2015, @05:29PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05 2015, @05:29PM (#218657)

    They need to make disposable, biodegradable covers for these public headsets, or at the very least scrub them good with alcohol - and / or the person putting it on. If not, I hope you like pus and sebum.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday August 05 2015, @05:55PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday August 05 2015, @05:55PM (#218675) Journal

      Futuristic technology meets the stumbling block of human bodily fluids.

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      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Wednesday August 05 2015, @06:29PM

        by VLM (445) on Wednesday August 05 2015, @06:29PM (#218702)

        I've noticed younger generations don't seem to care about grease, WRT phones and tablets that are greasy enough that they almost seem to drip, so they might have less hangups than elders like gen-x and older. Dust too. Good lord kid I can't believe you text your mother with that filthy tablet what would she say...

        On the other hand, for the VR things its not just skin oils to "ick" over, but facials and I suppose blood. Oh yeah and spit, spit: its not just for restaurant food anymore.

        There might be cultural issues at play, looking at the condition of public facilities like bus stops and park bathrooms in certain parts of town vs others, so something like this might transition to VR headsets where the headsets in the nice part of town are 15 years old and still look new but in the bad part of town they, well, fit right in, looking at legacy pay phones or anything in public.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday August 05 2015, @06:44PM

          by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday August 05 2015, @06:44PM (#218708) Journal

          We need a technical solution. Superhydrophobic and superoleophobic coatings so that the HUMAN STENCH just slides off. Then you can hand off the VR product to the next human in line, no matter what you were doing with it.

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        • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Wednesday August 05 2015, @09:19PM

          by acid andy (1683) on Wednesday August 05 2015, @09:19PM (#218782) Homepage Journal

          I've noticed younger generations don't seem to care about grease, ... so they might have less hangups than elders like gen-x and older. Dust too. Good lord kid I can't believe you text your mother with that filthy tablet what would she say...

          The mother likely grew up in an age where the social norm was for her to stay at home and look after the house, where her success and value as a human being would be judged by her peers in terms of the cleanliness, tidiness and hygiene of her home. She would have been brought up like that by her own parents. Times have changed, for the better in terms of gender equality, but perhaps for the worse where it's the norm for both parents to work which presumably allowed a drop in average wages in real terms, reinforcing that family model, and meaning there's much less time to notice the dirt in the home, much less do anything about it and don't even start on finding the time to teach the kids about it.

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  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday August 05 2015, @05:54PM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Wednesday August 05 2015, @05:54PM (#218674) Journal

    What is the maximum Hz of the smartphone displays typically used for VR/Cardboard?

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    • (Score: 2) by dyingtolive on Wednesday August 05 2015, @11:42PM

      by dyingtolive (952) on Wednesday August 05 2015, @11:42PM (#218848)

      I can't speak for anything else, but I believe the Rift is 90hz.

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      • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday August 06 2015, @12:17AM

        by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Thursday August 06 2015, @12:17AM (#218860) Journal

        That's the point. The upcoming consumer version of the Oculus Rift is 90 Hz, possibly upping to 120-240 Hz in future iterations. It recommends NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD 290 equivalent or greater for the GPU. The resolution is 2160 x 1200.

        So what are others saying about Cardboard or other smartphone VR schemes? The displays might be 2560 x 1440 in some cases (4K soon?), but I imagine the refresh rate tops out at 60 Hz, maybe less. The GPUs are less powerful. I'm guessing that desktop VR gaming will (at first) sacrifice detail and quality in order to meet high frame rate targets and reduce stuttering.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05 2015, @07:23PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05 2015, @07:23PM (#218724)

    British Museum Offers Confusing Headline R

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05 2015, @08:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05 2015, @08:10PM (#218741)

    Dude, that's like ... ancient!