The Gadget Show which is broadcasted in the UK have created the Ultimate Gaming Simulator. There are a lot of Racing simulators, but the closest an FPS player will get to an immersive experience is buying some branded peripherals. Armed with a pre-release level of Battlefield 3, The Gadget Show enlisted a team of design experts to transform a Birmingham studio into an FPS simulator costing £500,000 ($650,000).
All the action went down in an Igloo Vision projection dome, which is a 360-degree display area housed in a steel frame enclosure. Navigating around terrain and obstacles seems intuitive, thanks to an omni-directional treadmill. To really make things feel real, the simulator ditches a traditional controller or keyboard and instead requires a gun with sensory inputs that moves the display according to the direction of the barrel.
It has an ambient LED lighting System i.e Lighting that changes with what’s happening on a screen can have a big effect on the overall experience, as Philips demonstrated with its TV lighting systems. For the simulator, Extra Dimensional Technologies came up with an 800 LED lighting system hooked up to the game. The lighting is able to monitor and react to what is happening on-screen in real-time.
Battlefield 3 only requires a 180-degree screen, so if the player turned around in the dome they would see a blank screen.
This was solved by turning to APS Events & Media who rigged the 5 HD projectors in the dome to rotate with the player. By doing so, it doesn’t matter how much the player rotates they will always be looking directly at the display, never behind it.
For the gun, the team turned to the appToyz appBlaster, which is meant to work with an iPhone or iPod touch for interactive shooting games. In this case it was modified to allow the two triggers to aim and fire in Battlefield 3. It was also linked up wirelessly to the game using Mobile Mouse
While the omni-directional treadmill deals with most movement, it can’t handle crouching and jumping, which are an important part of the game. So a Kinect motion sensor was hacked to monitor for this type of movement and relays it to the game.
As you can imagine, a lot of calibration was required, but the end result is a simulator that allows a player to move around freely, feel pain from being shot, and become totally engrossed in the game. It also turned out to be a very good workout with players leaving the simulator exhausted and drenched in sweat.
Check out the full build and level playthrough in the video below, then tell me you don’t want one of these at home.