RTC Perspectives: I'll Meet You on the Holodeck...
The Holodeck, a virtual reality simulator introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation, foreshadowed this generation's immersive games and gaming systems. Its ability to simulate environments that stimulate our five senses was laughable in the '80s, but is the reality today. The Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Move, and Xbox Kinect are all a testament to the fact that if we can dream it, we can build it. Eventually.Key Information
Thank you, Star Trek
, for introducing "The Holodeck." Because of you, I have been able to enjoy an entire generation of immersive videogames. Trekkies will tell you that the Holodeck was used for entertainment purposes - in one case, baseball. If you think about it, the Holodeck is the ultimate in simulator technology. It simulates and stimulates every sense humans are capable of - sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. From the time I started playing videogames (Super Mario on Nintendo), I looked at distant technology such as the Holodeck with awe, saying to myself, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." In 2006, "if" happened.
The Nintendo Wii, Xbox Kinect, and PlayStation Move are all nearly capable of emulating the immersive characteristics of the Holodeck. They stimulate our sense of sight, whether through beautiful HD graphics or 3D projection (PlayStation Move) that blur the line between what's real and what isn't (minus the Wii, which doesn't have either of these capabilities). These immersive gaming systems also please our ears through the latest in Dolby Digital technology, producing sounds so crisp and clear that we sometimes look around to make sure they aren't real. Add surround sound to the mix, and our ears really start to get confused.
Our immersive games of today start to stumble when we get to the sense of touch. All we can touch is the controller itself, which, while versatile in design and slightly realistic in its ability to vibrate during action sequences, isn't the same as literally feeling the brick wall our avatar is touching, or sheathing the sword after a battle. The Xbox Kinect is an enigma because your body is the "controller," but the same challenges as above apply. Smell is the one sense video games haven't even come close to implementing. Is it possible? Yes, absolutely. Just ask Glade or Febreze. But to produce the array of "smells" required for each individual game is impractical with today's technology. Maybe the next generation in hardware will attempt this feat. Implications
Before we pass judgment on our friends dressing up like Spock and Captain James T. Kirk, let's remember that their "silly" obsession has driven our view of entertainment technology as we know it.
Author: Justin Kohut - Planner, Insights and Innovation Star Trek ® is a registered trademark of Paramount Pictures in the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Star Trek ©, Star Trek: The Next Generation ©, Star Trek Generation and movies ©, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine ©, Star Trek: Voyager © and Star Trek: Enterprise ©, are trademarks and copyright of PARAMOUNT PICTURES.
- If we can dream it, we can build it eventually. The laughable technologies presented by Star Trek at its inception are now becoming real, especially in the world of gaming.
- Gaming technology has its foot on the accelerator at all times. The leaps and bounds in gaming technology we'll see in the next 30 years - particularly in animation and immersion - will dwarf our progress over the past 30 years.
- As gaming gets more immersive, data flows. When data flows, opportunities arise for marketers.