May 4, 2015 | By Alec

3D printing technology and Virtual Reality seems to be a match made in heaven, as several low-budget VR goggles are already in production that rely on a smartphone app and a 3D printed headset. Unfortunately, none of these have so far come close to the quality of the Oculus Rift experience and while it hasn’t even been commercially released yet, the web is full of lucky people who were given a chance to try it. However, even that trendsetting VR headset can benefit from 3D printing technology, as Hawaiian-born up and coming artist Micah Ganske proves with his latest project.

As part of a sensational exhibit at the San Francisco Art Market, he has designed a stunning VR experience that revolves around a 3D printed cockpit. Visitors can try on the Oculus Rift, step into the cockpit and fly around an O’Neill cylinder in their mind. That’s a very popular design for space colonies, that revolve around a spinning cylinder that creates enough gravity to enable settlers to build on the tube’s inner surface. And through the Oculus Rift and 3D printed cockpit, you can now see that potential future of mankind for yourself.

The 3D printed cockpit is a massive six foot tall and it is designed to hold onto during the experience. It is an exact replica of the cockpit that you will be travelling in, something which Micah argues add an additional level of experience and immersion to the VR experience. As he explains on his website, one of the hurdles of Virtual Reality is that it’s so disorientating. ‘It detaches us completely from the real world and can be a bit disorienting since the experiences don't ground you to a physical space.  With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to take VR and combine it with sculptural elements to give the experience an additional level of tactility.  For lack of a better term, I've been referring to this as Augmented Virtual Reality,’ he writes.

That name refers to another forthcoming concept of Augmented Reality, which consists of digital enhancements laid over your real field of view. ‘It will  have transformative effects on a variety of industries and I personally believe they're the future of fine art,’ Micah argues, and therefore decided to test its functioning on his visitors. ‘As technology improves, it will be easier to create more immersive and interactive Augmented/VR experiences, but for the time being, I think this sort of Augmented Virtual Reality experience is an effective way to combine tactility with virtual spaces.’

That cockpit itself is over six feet high and was printed over a massive period of 75 days of total print time, though it required multiple machines to be completed. ‘I had some help from my friends at Bold Machines to get all the parts printed before my deadline and I used my trusty Gigabot printer from the fine folks at Re:3D to get the larger pieces printed,’ he explains. Assembly and post-print processing took another couple of weeks to complete, but the results are definitely impressive.

Reportedly, when a user steps in they will find that the cockpit is virtually replicated, though as an enclosed glass spacecraft that flies them through a fully completed space colony, in a space filled with several other spacecraft. Once the experience is finished, it fades to black and the user finds him or herself back in the 3D printed original cockpit.

Check out the experience here:



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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