AUSTIN, Texas — From its 110-degree fields of view to its 3D audio, virtual reality is all about immersion. However, even headsets like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive or the Gear VR can only simulate 360-degree motion. Krush Technologies has made that simulation real, pulling out the big guns at this year's SXSW festival with the Moveo, a free-standing simulation pod that can turn you around and even upside down.
The shiny, white machine, which is Krush's first attempt at hardware, gave me flashes of the EVA pod that took David Bowman into the monolith at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
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The Moveo would look right at home as a space ride in a theme park, which is appropriate as Krush was running the Anomaly demo. Players must navigate a space ship through several collection missions. Anchored by a sturdy mechanical arm, the vehicle gracefully pitched and rolled while suspended approximately 6 feet above the ground, adding another layer to the game play.
Donning a helmet with an Oculus Rift attached to the front like a high-tech visor, I climbed into the cockpit. After getting a walkthrough of what to expect in the demo and a tour of the control stick I'd be using to cruise around space, I was strapped into the pilot's chair via a five-point safety harness. Once I was secured, the Krush rep closed the door, and I pulled the Rift down over my face and was ready to start the demo.
Anomaly started off fairly simply, tasking me with gathering a pair of oxygen tanks. The control stick operated similarly to the controls on a plane, with a downward press eliciting a similar response from the ship. My thumb operated the thrust, while my index and middle fingers curled around the trigger on the back. The controls were responsive, but I overshot my goal several times and had to overcompensate in the other direction to try to straighten out.
Once I got the hang of steering (gentle on the thrust and easy on the stick), I collected all the required items and headed toward a space station in the distance. When I got close enough to dock, the entire structure exploded, sending me flying forward and downward until I was upside down (thank goodness for that safety harness). From there, the Moveo whipped me around a few good times, while I let out that hysterical cackle usually reserved for roller coasters.
I re-gained control of the ship just in time to receive a directive to seek out the glowing anomaly that sat where the space station used to orbit. Quickly lining up the shot, I fired and seemingly destroyed to glowing orb — until I was sucked into the blackness and found myself traveling amidst a glowing column of light — just like Dave.
Despite being unceremoniously tossed around, I never felt any motion sickness. Tom Thistleton, vice president of Krush Technologies, said he attributes this to the movement matching what your brain is seeing in VR. That makes sense, as I've felt moments of queasiness in titles where I'm sitting stationary in real life but running around in a VR title. It's a fleeting feeling, but still uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, the Moveo is currently only a concept that allows Krush to showcase the potential of its tech. However, I'm hoping that the company teams with a museum or theme park to bring this experience to mainstream audiences. It's a must-have experience that will make you rethink the future of VR. Once thing's for certain: This writer likes her VR shaken, not stirred.