Wish Granted: Here's Your Portable Holodeck

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Star Trek ignited our imaginations with the holodeck, a programmable holographic space that could transform into just about anything. And now we almost have one for real.

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Defense contractor Northrop Grumman recently unveiled its Virtual Immersive Portable Environment or VIPE Holodeck, a lightweight room the company created from commercially available hardware. The system works with a Kinect integration navigation sensor so users can move around freely in an immersive environment, Wired’s Allen McDuffee reported.

The Holodeck can also be can be networked for multiple people to interact with it at the same time, according to the company’s description. Granted, the room doesn’t quite reach the sophistication of the Star Trek version, as Dvice’s Colin Druce-McFadden pointed out. The immersion only goes so far and there are visible seams between the screens.

But the VIPE Holodeck is being eyed for serious virtual reality training simulations aimed at helping soldiers, medical personnel and police officers. A Northrop Grumman video demonstration shows a first-responder version that puts the trainee in a high school where there’s been a shooting.

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It makes sense that the holodeck would go to military, medical and law enforcement folks first, although gamers are likely next in line. I prefer calmer scenarios, though, and look forward to a time when the portable room gets immersive vacation spots. After such intense virtual training, officers will have earned their virtual R&R.

Photo: A virtual reality training for soldiers inside the VIPE Holodeck. Credit: Northrop Grumman (video)

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