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Indiana University Launches System For VR Environments

IU startup aims to enhance immersion by synchronising VR content with environmental effects.

In virtual reality (VR), one of the most compelling things is its immersiveness, the quality that allowed users to lose themselves in the virtual environment. Some specialised location-based set-ups try and increase immersion with environmental effects, but how can those effects be synchronised to the content? An Indiana University start-up has a solution.

A start-up based out of Indiana University called CyUtil LLC has created a system called cy.PIPES, or Programmable Immersive Peripheral Environmental System. The start-up was founded by Chauncey Frend, a programmer and analyst at Indiana University’s Advanced Visualisation Lab who has been working on immersive environmental systems since his undergraduate days. The cy.PIPES system is designed to synchronise immersive VR content with environmental tools, such as fans to create wind or lamps to create heat, allowing for a deeper immersion.

“I created cy.PIPES to easily plug-and-play the user’s choice of 4-D effects devices along with the Unity game engine. Dynamic factors like wind direction are automatically computed with cy.PIPES, and effects are rendered to users as they would expect from the virtual environment they are immersed in,” Frend said. “I wanted to prove it is possible to easily and inexpensively hook up environmental conditions to virtual and augmented reality systems.”

Frend is aiming to fund the next steps for the company using crowdfunding, and has launched an Indiegogo campaign with that in mind. He is hoping to contact developers of VR content to discuss applying cy.PIPES to their content. Feedback from these early adopters will drive further improvement of the product.

“Virtual reality can be used for a variety of experiences like green energy training, alternative energy education, racing simulators, flight simulators, real estate tours, historic tours of ancient ruins and others,” Frend said. “These experiences become more immersive by adding and synchronizing environmental conditions. Wind, heat, smells and tactile details can help developers make their world. The sky is the limit.”

VRFocus will bring you further news on cy.PIPES as it becomes available.

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