Iceland-based developer, Solfar Studios, has created Everest VR, which will feature on the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR.
Mount Everest with Virtual Realty
Iceland-based developer Solfar studios has created a new VR experience, Everest VR, that will feature on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Playstation VR later this year. A real trek up the Himalayan mountain to reach the peak of Everest will take eight weeks, while the VR experience will span a few hours.Everest VR is supposed to be very realistic as it uses photogrammetry, which is a technique that uses actual photos to calculate the underlying geometry and apply those to the resulting model as texture maps. One could record 360-degree videos of the Everest, but it will only be a static, passive video which will not give people the interactive and immersive experience like VR.
To pull this Himalayan feat, Solfar Studios teamed up with RVX, the Reyjavik-based visual effects and animation studio which created a graphics processing unit (GPU)-accelerated database of more than 300,000 high-resolution photos of the mountain. RVX was also responsible for the visual effects in the 2015 Hollywood movie ‘Everest’. RVX also created a 3D mesh and textures for the VR app.
Everest VR was developed using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4 technology. While this is not designed to be a technical hiking simulation, it surely could help players overcome their fear of heights.
Thor Gunnarsson, co-founder of Solfar Studios, says hand controllers such as Oculus Touch, Playstation Move and Vive controllers are the key to VR experience. “Gripping ascenders to hold onto safety ropes as you walk across a ladder on to the Khumbu Icefall, clipping onto a safety rope as you traverse a narrow legde , or adjusting the oxygen flow to avoid hypoxia in the Death Zone are all key aspects and requires your hands to make it feel real”, he says.
Until now, 4000 people have reached the summit of Mount Everest and experienced the Himalayan beauty. Although virtual, with Everest VR, this number is sure to increase later this year.