Revealing Leap Into Avegant’s Magical Mixed-Reality World

I’m generally not the person you want testing your virtual, augmented, or otherwise “enhanced” reality technology. I am horribly susceptible to motion sickness, my presbyopia makes focusing on Google glass–like displays pretty much impossible, and even 3D movies do not make my eyes happy. Using a good virtual reality system, I can go maybe 30 seconds before I have escape to the real world; with a phone-based system, even a couple of seconds is too much.

But last week I spent at least 15 minutes (though it felt like less than five) completely engaged in a sampling of virtual worlds seen through Avegant’s mixed reality viewer. The experience was magical, enthralling, amazing, wonderful—pick your superlative. I didn’t get nauseous, or headachy, or feel any eyestrain at all. Indeed my eyes felt rested (probably because that was 15 minutes not spent in front of a computer or phone screen). Also a wonderful part of the experience: the fact that the company didn’t bother with extreme security measures or nondisclosure agreements (though executives are not talking specific technical details until patent filings are complete.

Avegant is a four-year-old Belmont, Calif., based startup. Its first product, the Glyph head-mounted display typically used for personal entertainment viewing, has been shipping since February of last year. (The name is a mashup of the names of the founders—Edward Tang and Allan Evans.)

The company announced its transparent Light Field Display technology last month. It hasn’t said when this will be ready for manufacture, though Tang points out that the Glyph’s success shows that the company knows how to design products for manufacture and bring them to market.

Avegant’s prototype mixed reality system uses a headband to position the Avegant display. It is driven by an IBM Windows PC with an Intel i7 processor and an Nvidia graphics card running the Unity game engine.

The images, explained cofounder Tang, now chief technology officer, are projected onto the retina by an array of MEMS micromirrors, each of which controls one pixel.

That, so far, is the same as the company’s Glyph system. But unlike a standard micromirror display, which reflects light straight at the person viewing it, these light field images are projected at different angles, mimicking the way light in the real world reflects off objects to hit a person’s eyes. The difference in these angles is particularly dramatic the closer someone is to the object, creating distinct and separate focal planes; the eye naturally refocuses when it moves from one plane to another.

To avoid having the eyes deal with these multiple focal planes, explained Tang, mixed reality systems like Microsoft’s HoloLens tend to keep viewers a meter or two away from objects. Light field technology, however, can use different focal planes for different objects simultaneously, so the user perceives even very close-up objects to be realistic. (Tang makes the case for light field technology in the video below.)

To date, Tang says, most attempts to bring light field technology into head-mounted displays have involved tricky-to-manufacture technology like deformable mirrors or liquid lenses, or approaches that take huge amounts of computing power to operate, like stacked LCDs.

“We created a new method,” he said, “that has no mechanical parts and uses existing manufacturing capabilities, with a level of computation that isn’t particularly high; it can run on standard PCs with graphics cards or mobile chipsets.”

The effect is designed to be natural—that is, you see virtual objects in the same way you normally see real objects, with no eye strain caused from struggling to focus. And, in the demo I was shown, it absolutely was.

I went through two mixed reality experiences in a slightly dim but not dark room with some basic furniture. The room was rigged with off-the-shelf motion tracking cameras to help map my position; the headset I wore was tethered to a PC. After a short calibration effort that allowed me to adjust the display to match the distance between my pupils, I entered a solar system visualization, walking among planets, peering up close at particular features (Earth seemed to be a little smaller than my head in this demo), and leaning even closer to trigger the playing of related audio.

Clear labels hovered near each planet, which brings up an interesting side note: I wasn’t wearing my reading glasses, but the labels, even close at hand, were quite clear. Tang mentioned that the developers have been discussing whether, for those of us who do need reading glasses, it would be more realistic to make the virtual objects as blurry as the real ones. I vote no, I didn’t find it jarring that my hand as I used it to reach for planets was a little fuzzy, particularly, perhaps, since the virtual objects were appearing brighter than real world ones. And it was quite lovely having so much of what I was seeing be clear.

At one point in the demo, while I was checking out asteroids near Saturn, Tang suggested that I step into the asteroid belt. I was a bit apprehensive; with my VR sickness history, it seemed that watching a flow of asteroids whizzing by me on both sides would be a uniquely bad idea, but it went just fine, and I could observe quite a bit of detail in the asteroids as they flowed past me.

The second demo involved a virtual fish tank. Tang asked me to walk over to a coffee table and look down at the surface; the fish tank then appeared, sitting on top of the table. I squatted next to the tank and put my hand into it. I reached out for a sea turtle; it was just the right size to fit in my palm. I followed it with my cupped hand for a while, and started feeling a whoosh of air across my palm whenever it swept its flippers back. I wondered for a moment if there was some virtual touch gear around, but it turned out to just be my mind filling in a few blanks in the very real scene. Tang then expanded the fish tank to fill the room; now that sea turtle was too big to hold, but I couldn’t resist trying to pet it. Then, he told me, “Check out that chair,” and in a moment, a school of tiny fish swept out from under the chair legs and swooped around the nearby furniture.

After convincing me to leave the fish demo (I was enjoying the experience of snorkeling without getting wet), Tang directed me to walk towards a female avatar. She was a computer-generated human that didn’t quite leave the uncanny valley—just a standard videogame avatar downloaded from a library, Tang said. But he pointed out that I could move up and invade her personal space and watch her expression change. And it certainly did seem that this avatar was in the room with me.

Throughout all the demos, I didn’t encounter any vision issues, focus struggles, or other discomfort as I looked back and forth between near and far and real and virtual objects.

I have not been one of the anointed few who have tested Magic Leap’s much-ballyhooed light-field-based mixed reality technology (and given the company’s extreme nondisclosure agreements, I likely couldn’t say much about it if I had). So, I don’t know how Avegant’s approach compares, though I’d be willing to put Avegant’s turtle up against Magic Leap’s elephant any day.

What I do know is that it absolutely blew me away. I’m eager to see what developers eventually do with it, and I’m thrilled that I no longer have to struggle physically to visit virtual worlds.

Top Schools for Video Game Programming and Development

Earning a degree in game programming and development should be considered by individuals who have a passion for gaming, and learning how games are created. Courses involved in these type of degrees usually include gameplay design, 3D graphics, stereoscopic computer graphics, contemporary video game platforms, multiplayer game design, and game physics. Having a computer that can handle the necessary components involved in video game design and development would also be very helpful. The following list includes some of the top schools where students can earn this degree, and other related degrees to help them enter the video game creation field.

University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
• Rated by the Princeton Review multiple years in a row as having the #1 game design program in North America.
• Students can study programs in Interactive Entertainment, Animation & Digital Arts, Cinematic Arts, Film & Television Production, Interactive Media, and Science Visualization.
• USC is not predominantly a design school; they also offer many other degrees you would find at most traditional colleges.

Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
• Carnegie Mellon is a world leader in robotics
• Students can earn a Bachelor of Computer Science and Arts, which will allow students to enter fields such as robotic art, game design, and computer animation.

Savannah College of Art and Design
Savannah, Georgia
• Students can choose to earn degrees, certificates, major in, or minor in programs such as Interactive Design & Game Development, Interactive Design, Themed Entertainment Design, Motion Media Design, Animation, and Visual Effects.
• Other related programs include Illustration, Film & Television, Illustration Design, and Cinema Studies
• Some programs can be completed at the school’s other campuses in Atlanta, Hong Kong and Lacoste, France.

Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, New York
• All programs offer both unpaid and paid internships.
• Students can earn a BSc in Gaming Design & Development or New Media Interactive Development. Other programs include an MSc in Gaming Development & Design, Game Development & Design minor, or a Game Design minor.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, New York
• Programs offered include Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, Electronic Arts, Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication. Certificates in Graphics and Communication design are also available in addition to earning a degree.

DigiPen Institute of Technology
Redmond, Washington
• Additional campuses in Washington, Spain, Bilbao, and Singapore
• Students may earn a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Game Design, Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation, Digital Art and Animation, or Game Design. Master’s programs are available in Digital Arts and Computer Science.

Tips On How To Get Rare Pokemons In Pokemon Indigo

Pokemon Indigo is an online game in the Pokemon series. Just like other games in the series, the game is focused on capturing and training Pokemons in order to become the game’s strongest trainer.

To form a strong party of Pokemon you need to have a well-rounded group that will include at least one rare or legendary Pokemon. While they are important, rare units are not only tough to find, but they are also difficult to catch. Although, this is the case, here are tips on how to find the rare units:

Search in hidden areas

You can’t find the rare units when you first start the game. This is because they are usually locked away or blocked by an obstacle. As a result of this you have to complete a significant milestone for you to access the areas where the units are located.

When you complete an important portion of the game you should thoroughly search the area until you find a Pokemon. If you don’t find the unit in that area, you should aim at completing other milestones to access the units. You should also take upon yourself to learn a move such as Cut that will allow you to easily find the units.

Be strong when attacking a Pokemon

Once you have seen a unit, you should attack strongly to prevent it from escaping. This is because it has been shown that the units tend to easily run away if they are not damaged quickly; therefore, when you come across any you should attack immediately.

While it’s recommended that you attack strongly when you see a rare Pokemon, you should avoid killing it in one hit. To be on the safe side you should throw a Pokeball (or another variation of it). When the Pokeball hits the unit, it will affect the unit’s health status and as a result you will easily catch it when it’s low on health.

One of the best Pokeballs to use is the Masterball. The good side with this ball is that it’s available in almost all Pokestores and it’s easy to use. It also easily catches the Pokemon.

Conclusion

These are tips on how to get rare Pokemons in the Pokemon Indigo game. As you can see the tips are easy to follow; however, if you come across problems in putting the tips into practice, you should visit the many online resources that will give you free guidan