Virtual characters are still quite limited in terms of interaction, if we’re using contemporary video games as a context. How we control these characters is interrupted through a series of wireless controllers and assorted software that determines how a character responds on our TV screen or our computer monitor. A group at the University of Tokyo’s Naemura Lab created a way for people to directly interact with the movement of virtual characters using the Kinect system.
Using video projected onto a three-dimensional surface, and incorporating data from location sensors, a person can manipulate the path of a simple, two-dimensional character as it jumps on stacks of analog blocks. Programmed to jump to the highest projected point, the virtual character will even jump into your palm if your hand exceeds all other points on the interaction surface. Move the block on which the character rested, and it will jump down to the block below and immediately jump to the next highest surface.
The projector will also display the shadow of the virtual character accurately, as if it were a three-dimensional object in the real world.
Still, this technology and the characters create are rudimentary, but they hint at the future of interacting with characters in video games and other media.
With technology like this, people will be able to interact with virtual characters with the same intimacy and dexterity of real-world interaction. What will our video games become, then, if our level of interaction with virtual worlds is so detailed and diverse? We should wonder if video games will become something more than just entertainment.
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