VRrOOm takes you to a VR Spacewalk from February 24 to 26 in Paris. Even in virtual reality, floating 402 kilometres above Earth is terrifying. Home, a 15-minute experience created by London-based production studio Rewind, is the closest most of us will get to the real thing.
To develop the experience, the studio worked closely with Nasa and the ESA. "Nasa has an open-source library of 3D models and plans, so we used that for reference," explains Matt Allen, the company's 30-year-old CTO. "With the ISS model, the airlock and the suits, we wanted to be as accurate as possible." To build the visuals, the company used modelling packages such as 3D Studio Max and Unreal Engine 4.
The narrative, created by the BBC's digital storytelling team, begins on the Quest Airlock of the ISS.
After opening the airlock, players must traverse the exterior of the space station - with an accompanying view of Earth below - to a radiator panel. To do this they must useHTC Vive controllers as hands. The sensation is exhilarating, if at times unsettling: Allen's team had to adapt the experience because heights in VR can make viewers squeamish. "We had to tweak the way you move and traverse the outside of the ISS, taking away a few degrees of freedom," explains Allen. "It can be quite nauseating in VR."
Home won the Audience award at the Sheffield film festival in 2016 and is available now on HTC Vive and Oculus. Rewind may have traversed shallow space, but the studio isn't getting complacent. It is branching out into augmented reality with experiences using the Microsoft HoloLens. "VR is a major thing now," says Allen, "but we're always looking forward to the future." The sky's no longer the limit.