Those of us who fall into a certain age bracket and who were young enough to see the Star Wars movies in the theaters have spent more of our lives wanting to/pretending to be Jedi Knights than we have on anything productive, like planning for the future or learning marketable skills. This may be an over generalization, but I don’t feel like it’s all that far off, or like this is a super outlandish statement. (I’ve definitely spent much more time wielding a pretend lightsaber than, say, learning to do my taxes, change the oil in a car, or finding out what an IRA is.) Leave it to technology to lend us a hand in this regard, as Oculus Rift may have just made it slightly easier for us to achieve our dreams of becoming Jedi Knights.
For those of you not in the know, Oculus Rift is a virtual reality system that uses a headset and earphones to immerse you in an artificial world, kind of like Lawnmower Man. Though it’s not currently commercially available, it’s been used in everything from gaming to architecture to education. And I’m thoroughly shocked that it took this long for someone to make Jedi training program, but that’s exactly what this video shows, and it looks totally rad.
Not only can you choose your preferred lightsaber color, depending on your mood and inclinations to the light or dark side of the Force—you can also use two at a time should your little heart desire and if you think you’re that badass—but the sound effects are also spot on. It drops you into a training scenario that you’ll recognize as very similar to the one Obi-Wan puts Luke through on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope. You know, except you can see the little floating drone that shoots stun blasts at you that you need to deflect with you lightsaber.
This footage comes from a demo from earlier this month where virtual reality enthusiasts had the chance to take this baby for a test drive, and it looks like a blast. For the more technically inclined, this is part of a system called STEM that works with the Oculus Rift Developer Kit 2. To be honest I don’t entirely know what that means, but it sounds official, and fancy.
According to the developer’s description, the STEM pack is mounted on the DK2, and tracks the position of the user’s head while controllers track each hand. The team behind this wants to make similar experiences easier for other developers to create, and though all of this is obviously not real, the hand eye coordination with this new set up is so good that it feels real and natural.
Not only is this demonstration super awesome and nerdy, but it also provides an accurate idea of just what STEM is capable of. They say, “The lightsaber or sword is the true test for a one-to-one motion tracking system in VR, because it requires low latency, and almost perfect tracking of both position and orientation between your physical and your virtual self as you perform swipes, slashes, blocks and counters with the lightsaber.”