Even the Oculus Rift has an uncanny valley. Though Facebook’s virtual reality headset can transport you into ultra-realistic digital worlds, there’s still something subtly off about them you can’t quite put your finger on. As part of a project for the University of Art and Design in Lausanne (more commonly known as ECAL), interactive designer Simon de Diesbach has tried to take a running leap over VR’s uncanny valley. Meet the OccultUs, a project that augments virtual reality with real-world sounds provided in real time by a robotic sound effects booth.
Its goal? To scare the crap out of you. “With the OccultUs, I wanted to immerse the user in a sensory experience made up of two distinct realities blended together: the palpable reality of the ‘real’ world, and the simulated reality of VR,” de Diesbach tells me. And what’s the best way to do that? Make people scared….
When you put on an Oculus Rift, you enclose yourself in another world, but you also become blind and deaf in this one. You’re vulnerable. The OccultUs leverages the vulnerability of a participant to create a heightened experience: a participant who puts on the OccultUs must first sit in a circle surrounded by weird machines of unknown function, then put on a headset, still not entirely sure what they do…..
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