Real-time 'mixed-reality' ski race to go ahead

European researchers have designed ‘the world’s first mixed reality’ downhill ski race, where a professional skier will take on two online gamers.

Hitting speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour, the top-class skier will hurtle down the world cup ski course in Schladming, Austria, in a bid to reach the finish line before his two competitors, virtual reality gamers based in Thessaloniki, in Greece, and Munich, in Germany.

The racers will use a 3D tele-immersion platform and wear new virtual reality technology, Oculus Rift, that allows them to compete against each other by racing down the same ski slope simultaneously.

“The competitors will interact in real time, sharing their experience in a 3D virtual environment delivered over the Internet to wearable immersive devices,” said Michael Boniface, the project’s technical lead.

“The professional skier will wear Smart Ski Goggles with a head-up display that allows them to see the virtual world alongside the real slope. The indoor competitors will play fully immersed in a virtual world using Oculus Rift.

“By using advanced sensor and gaming technologies to create and manipulate 3D information in real time, the platform can deliver truly interactive experiences closely linked to real world activities.”

The mixed-reality race is part of the 3D Live project, funded by the European Commission, and aims to deliver an immersive platform where users can experience, feel and interact with real environments and distant users in real-time.

Marco Conte, project coordinator, said that the project is a launch pad for new types of live games and real interaction across a variety of sports.

“3D LIVE experiences have been developed for golf, jogging and now skiing, transforming the way people play, compete and socialise,” said Conte.

As E&T news reported, the Facebook-owned company makes the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that covers a user's eyes and creates an immersive world that reacts to turning your head or moving back and forth.

The race will be broadcast live at 10.10 and 12.35 GMT on 2 and 3 February during the Wearable Technologies Conference, in Munich. You can also watch the live stream here.

The consortium working on the project is made up of Collaborative Engineering (Italy), University of Southampton IT Innovation Centre (UK), the CERTH Information Technologies Institute (Greece), Arts et Metiers ParisTech Laval (France), Sportscurve (Germany) and Cyberlighting (Finland).

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