January 15, 2011

Rolled by the Virtusphere

The virtusphere proved to be quite the challenge, and the trickiest part of the operation was getting in and out of the thing.

The hatch is about three feet across. To get in, you stick your head in, and the sphere operator rolls the sphere around until the hatch is around your middle. Then you step up – a big, knee-high step – and in.
Mayor Buddy Dyer in the Virtusphere
Orlando Science Center photo
You stand in a bowl that shifts with your every move. It’s disorienting to have the ground move with your foot, instead of being firm. And no matter which way you move, the ground is always sloping upward away from you.

I think my tai chi classes helped me a little; I remembered soft knees and feel the ground with your feet. But I could not see much, as I had to take off my specs to put on the virtual reality goggles. The landscape was a high-tech fortress that had been invaded by aliens. Blurry aliens.

I managed to keep my feet, kill some aliens, and not die.

Several who tried the sphere before me got disoriented and fell. I did not, until I got cocky at the end of the ride and took a giant step toward the hatch. I think I’m the only one who fell after taking the goggles off.

To get out, you step down, turn around, and back out as the operator rotates the hatch upward.

This sphere has a diameter of 10 feet – almost double my height – and it was hard for me. It requires small steps. I think a taller person would have a much harder time. For this to be practical for military simulation, it’ll have to be much larger.

That’ll be cool.

No comments:

Post a Comment