“Real feels what rumbles.” Virtual Reality and Real Virtuality

How coincidental can it get? A few weeks ago, the German weekly “Die Zeit” headlined “Like the real thing: Virtual Reality reaches everyday life”*. This article published simultaneously with the very moment Time’s Up said its definitive “Good Bye” to Virtual Reality.

Definitive as in very literally trashing it. “It” is in this case our “Spherical Projection Interface” (SPIN). An interface conceived and implemented during an era Virtual Reality was rather big as well. In 1999. Originally developed to allow what we called “Real Virtuality”.

SPIN - Final Stage
Saying Good Bye to Virtual Reality – The Spherical Projection Interface SPIN during its last stage: at the dumpsite around the corner of our laboratories.

One of the factors making the article as hilarious as it was is its conclusion, reminding us rather strongly of our promotion material written for SPIN (a fair while ago…). After reporting on recent, current and about-to-be-released (reminding us of those oh-so-heady days (or daze) of the 90s technology boom and its vapourware) developments, like the google-cardboard glasses, the Zeiss VR One and the (announced as _the_ groundbreaking thing within VR) long awaited and seemingly early 2016 released Oculus Rift, the authors introduced something called “The Alps-Express.” A type of an alpine roller coaster, offering, by wearing VR-Goggles while riding a little train, some sort of an extra-ordinary experience. Even though the authors acknowledge the mediocrity of the VR-glasses used, they conclude that the reported additional thrill is  achieved through the simple factor of riding and moving while the VR-experience played out via the goggles. Multiple sensations, they claim, raise the level of immersion. They even suggest a lesson to be learned for all VR-developers: Virtual Reality should not be equated with Visual Reality. Its only the addressing of several senses, immersing the body as such which leads to an encompassing experience of Virtual Reality. They conclude their article with “Things feel real when they rumble” (“real fühlt sich an, was holpert”).

True, we say. But don’t stop here, we say. The mere need of glasses is already a constraint, always limiting and distracting for the experience. No matter how perfect they may be, how high-resolution they are, how less latency they show. That was the reason we developed SPIN. Free multi-directional movement, no restrictions through any type of gear – that was our understanding of Virtual Reality, Real Virtuality.

In case it will become relevant again: the construction plans of SPIN are still in our archives. Digging them out will be easy as pie.

A few impressions on SPIN – before being trashed – can’t be missing here, more can be found on Flickr.

and for those being interested in some sort of an video – documentary..

*Stefan Schmitt und Harro Albrecht, Zeitausgabe N°49, 03.12.2015


  1. Well are you in for more coincedences :-) I am just reading an article about my real virtuality installation created in 1999 and mentioned your project in it :-) I’ll send you the link when I have published it. Found your blog when googling for an image of SPIN.


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