Ghostbusters steps into VR with “hyper-reality” experience from THE VOID

Ghostbusters is coming to virtual reality, in the form of a hyper-reality experience opening at Madame Tussauds New York later this week.

Developed in partnership with THE VOID, the company behind the virtual reality laser tag-like experience that opened in Utah last year, the experience blends real-world objects with virtual reality to allow users to interact with a virtual space.

Dubbed Ghostbusters Dimension, the 15-Minute VR experience allows audiences to take on the role of a ghostbuster seeking out supernatural enemies in a New York apartment block.

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“With an untethered VR experience that allows people to roam freely and interact with a physical world that matches the digital one they are seeing, consumers will have whole new levels of delight as they lose themselves in another realm,” said Clive Downie, CMO Unity Technologies, which provided the 3D engine that powers the experience.

“It’s giving presence to interactive storytelling putting people into the Ghostbusters world with high definition, high frame rate high excitement action, powered in part by Unity.”

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Images courtesy of THE VOID

While clearly a promotional tool for the new Ghostbusters film, the experience also offers many more people the opportunity to experience THE VOID’s unique hyper-reality offering.

Visitors to the company’s Utah-based experience wear custom head-mounted displays and backpack computers, which provide them with a virtual reality overlay to the space they are in.

The hardware users wear is styled to look like futuristic armour and is known as RAPTURE gear.

“The Ghostbusters world is the perfect fit for THE VOID because you literally strap our RAPTURE gear on and it turns into your proton pack and proton gun,” said James Jensen, Chief Visionary Officer at THE VOID.

The experience will open at Madame Tussauds New York on the 1st of July, as part of a wider Ghostbusters exhibition.

Each hyper-reality session will last 15 minutes with up to three people able to take part at a time, meaning tickets are likely to sell out fast.

Tickets, which also get you into the rest of Madame Tussauds, cost $49.75 a person, although you do have to sign a liability waiver if you want to take part.

Nevertheless, we expect Ghostbusters Dimension to be a big hit when it opens later this week.

Former US presidential candidate Ralph Nader warns against over-hyping driverless cars

Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader has said that unsubstantiated claims from driverless car enthusiasts are distracting authorities from improving transport links and improving road and rail infrastructure.

In a blog post, Nader argues that the while the many advantages of a possible driverless future have been reported by the media, they have not been properly scrutinised, and the technology is draining much-needed funds that should be made available to mass transit services and the industry’s own vehicle safety upgrades.

“The mass media took the bait and over-reported each company’s sensationalised press releases, announcing breakthroughs without disclosing the underlying data,” said Nader.

“The arrogance of the algorithms, among many other variables, bypassed simple daily realties such as bustling traffic in cities like New York.”

Image courtesy of Don LaVange

Nader makes the claim that the predicted decline in car sales has led car companies to promote their high-ticket, driverless cars, which as Nader points out are already being marketed as “computers on wheels”.

However, Nader argues no explanation has been given for how autonomous vehicles would be implanted into normal people’s daily lives, and the problems of cars being hacked or requiring humans to take over haven’t been resolved.

“The industry, from Silicon Valley to Detroit, argues safety. Robotic systems do not get drunk, fall asleep at the wheel or develop poor driving skills. But computers fail often; they are often susceptible to hacking, whether by the manufacturers, dealers or deadly actors,” said Nader.

“Already, Level Three—an autonomous vehicle needing emergency replacement by the surrogate human driver—is being viewed as unworkable by specialists at MIT and elsewhere. The human driver, lulled and preoccupied, can’t take back control in time.”

Nader also makes the point in his blog post that driverless cars are diverting funding away from making cars we already have safer, more efficient and less polluting.

It is Nader’s opinion that we shouldn’t wait for what he terms a “technological will-o’-the-wisp”, and we should instead make changes to the cars we already have, as well as improving public transportation and infrastructure.

“The driverless car is bursting forth without a legal, ethical and priorities framework. Already asking for public subsidies, companies can drain much-needed funds for available mass transit services and the industry’s own vehicle safety upgrades,” said Nader.

“Why won’t we concentrate on what can be improved and expanded to get safer, efficient, less polluting mobility?”

Self-driving shopping: Autonomous grocery delivery trialled in London

The first trials of a self-driving grocery delivery service have started in Greenwich, London, as part of a wider project looking into the use of autonomous vehicles for ‘last mile’ deliveries.

An initiative between UK government and industry funded smart mobility lab the GATEway project and Ocado Technology, a part of the world’s largest online-online supermarket, the trail uses a cargo-carrying self-driving vehicle known as CargoPod. Developed by Oxbotica, the vehicle can carry 128kg of groceries at a time, as is designed to drive in areas populated by pedestrians thanks to its software system Selenium.

“Last mile delivery is a growing challenge as our cities become denser and more congested,” said Graeme Smith, CEO of Oxbotica. “In this new project we are working closely with Ocado Technology to deploy our Selenium autonomy system into a novel last-mile delivery application in Greenwich as a part of the GATEway project.”

Running over ten days, the trail will see groceries delivered to over 100 residents across the Royal Riverside Arsenal development in the borough of Greenwich. The project is the latest in a series of trials of self-driving vehicles in the borough, which have been primarily focused on their operation in areas also used by pedestrians.

“The Royal Borough of Greenwich is one of the UK’s leaders in smart city innovation and we are proud to be working alongside our partners to be at the forefront in this new age of driverless technology,” Councillor Sizwe James, cabinet member for transport, economy and smart cities at the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

“With Digital Greenwich spearheading this work forwards, we are gaining new insights into how connected and autonomous vehicles, including automated light delivery vehicles, will impact on the city and what cities need to do to capture the opportunities they can bring.”

Images courtesy of the GATEway project

The eventual goal of the project is to bring self-driving vehicles into general use in the UK.

“The GATEway project takes us another step closer to seeing self-driving vehicles on UK roads, and has the potential to reduce congestion in urban areas while reducing emissions,” said UK Business Minister Claire Perry. “Backed by government, this project firmly establishes the UK as a global centre for developing self-driving innovation.”

As part of this, there has been a strong focus on the commercial opportunities of self-driving vehicles, as evidenced by the involvement of Ocado.

“Ocado Technology is delighted to have worked in partnership with the GATEway Project to a complete a very successful grocery delivery trial using driverless vehicles. We are always looking to come up with unique, innovative solutions to the real-world challenge of delivering groceries in densely-populated urban environments,” said David Sharp, Head of 10x Technology at Ocado.

“This project is part of the on-going journey to be at the edge of what is practical and offer our Ocado Smart Platform customers new and exciting solutions for last mile deliveries.”