Losing my VRginity to: OMNIMAX

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Anyone reading this popular series of insights into first-experiences will no doubt understand that virtual reality (VR) comes in many shapes and sizes. The head-mounted displays (HMDs) that we are all eagerly awaiting are just one face of a many-sided die, and to get a broader picture of the ways in which VR can become a part of our lives we have to look at many different forms of delivery. One such avenue could come in the form of cinema-like experience, as was the case for one VR pioneer.

Matthew Carrell is the creator of Stompz, a unique motion-control device designed for the seated VR experience. Carrell’s first taste of VR was very different to how we see the technology today, or even how the majority would have thought it to be twenty years ago. Here Carrell talks us through he very first VR experience:

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“It has been surprisingly tough figuring out what my first Virtual Reality experience was. I believe that VR is a frame of mind that I have possessed as long as I can remember. For those of us who became immersed by cartoons as a child and were incommunicable until the TV was turned off, or played video games with our whole body instead of just the controller, we share the unique ability to allow ourselves to become completely and instantly immersed in any situation.

So asking what my first VR experience was is kind of a tricky question. However, if I had to stop being sentimental and give you my first technical experience with VR, it would certainly have to be the first time I went to the OMNIMAX theater in Cincinnati, Ohio. The OMNIMAX is a five-story, domed theater that projects special-made movies onto the massive dome to wrap the watcher’s peripheral vision and completely immerse them. The movie we watched was “Special Effects”, a documentary about special effects in the movie industry. The most memorable moment was when you are viewing the world through the eyes of King Kong as he scales the EmpireState building while being shot at by bi-planes whizzing around his/your head. As you reach the top, the planes deal a final blow, you look way down at the streets below, and then quickly plunge towards the ground. I will never forget that fall. I literally fell out of my seat. It was terrifying and truly awesome.

I think of that moment as the first time someone shared their imagination with me and it momentarily replaced my sense of reality. I always hoped we would be able to share and experience one another’s imaginations in a similar way. I think that time is now.”

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Matthew Carrell is a virtual reality enthusisast and inventor of the forthcoming Stompz motion-control device. You can find out more about his work in this exclusive interview.

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