Groundbreaking uses for virtual reality (VR) seem to be everywhere, and new head-mounted hardware is expected to come at a frantic pace this year. One system has developed a means of sharing the VR experience with a group of users and without head-mounted displays: the Liquid Galaxy.
While Liquid Galaxy does not create complete virtual reality that truly immerses the user in a 360°x360° environment, the system uses 3D VR content to create a panoramic view that extends far into the viewers’ peripheral vision. The system arranges either five or seven large monitors in a 12′-4″ (3.75m) diameter arc and uses the Liquid Galaxy hardware and software to create the experiences that the user can navigate. Movement through the 3D environment can be controlled via a touchscreen, a 6-axis SpaceNav controller or tracking systems like Leap Motion (www.leapmotion.com)–all allowing users to navigate while “in” the 3D model.
The satellite imagery and 3D building models of Google Earth can be experienced in the large-scale panorama of the Liquid Galaxy, allowing users to fly around the globe. Building on the ability to use Google Earth, users can load architectural and engineering models into Google Earth that have been created in Google’s 3D modeling software, SketchUp. This feature allows users to explore or preview and visualize new spaces that are in development–particularly useful for architectural firms looking for a powerful medium for presentations.
Real Estate brokerages can showcase properties with 3D models of merged Google Earth data and “fly” prospective clients around dense urban neighborhoods or large rural landscapes. The Liquid Galaxy could allow users to experience a contextual tour of several listings without leaving the real estate office, even if the properties are in remote locations.
Liquid Galaxy presentations can be augmented with additional data to enhance the value of the experience. An urban environment could highlight amenities such as mass transit, road usage, and other demographic data. End Point provides a browser-based content management system that allows your team to build out comprehensive presentations that combine geographic maps, pins, and GIS information with graphic overlays, video, and web pages. These presentations can be used to walk the viewer through a complete story, flying from location to location along with explanatory text, photos, and videos.
Taking content creation to the level of the Liquid Galaxy would allow for new techniques in video production that take advantage of the multiple displays. The developers of the Liquid Galaxy have been working with artists to adapt their work for the system. Alternatively, a few video games have been run on the Liquid Galaxy (with some customization) and others that have a “spectator mode” have been ported to the system.
The developers are conceiving new uses for the Liquid Galaxy constantly and hundreds of installations have been used around the globe. Complete information about Liquid Galaxy can be found on the official site at liquidgalaxy.endpoint.com.