Interactive Mixed Reality Installation for ZKM Karlsruhe
We have written several paper about this installation, and therefore I think it’s most valuable for the reader when I just present the introduction of one of the papers here.
The question on how virtual reality (VR) technologies will shape our future lives has been around since at least the renaissance of VR in the second decade of the 21st century. We believe that one essential question which needs to be addressed in this regard is not how, but where this will happen. The question on where arises because VR enfolds its full potential only in those cases when the physical surrounding is also taken into consideration.
Setting up consisting or matching mixed world environments where virtual and real are intermingled can usually not be realized at home, because it requires complex hardware constructions. It has been shown that, if done right, that mixed reality setups can help improve presence. Because of that, we argue that for high-end VR installations, museums, exhibitions, and amusement parks are perfectly suitable for staging VR installations in the most engaging way. In this context, one is able to create spectacular, immersive experiences, whereby the complete isolation of the physical outside world at the same time is a major hurdle for wearing head-mounted displays (HMDs). This has to be overcome, especially for cases where one might be under possible observation such as semi-public spaces. Next to a complete \leap into the unknown"1, VR technology tends to give rise to uncertainty in regards to possible motion sickness and also to hygienic concerns which prevent many potential visitors from getting involved in a VR experience. To counteract this problem, the team extended a VR installation already shown at the ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medien Karlsruhe by a large-scale floor projection.
For the viewers, this led to a more attractive installation, it encouraged them to participate better and optimally prepared them for the upcoming VR experience. Thus, the participants were able to gently lift off in a replica balloon basket: They felt the vibrations of the light imitated by jiggling plates. The heat of the burner’s virtual flames was reflected in hot studio lamps. A light breeze, created by a fan, blew through their hair. The high congruence between the real and the virtual always created a safe environment, which even made it possible to hold on to the balloon basket in the event of a fear of heights.