The Light Side: Gaming Gets as Real as It Gets. Almost.

August 8, 2014

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Playing a car racing game, barreling through realistic-looking but obviously imagined scenery, is fun. But racing a hypercar, say a Koenigsegg Agera, through an authentic, real-life environment that's been photorealistically created is better. And that's the video-gaming future developers are betting on.

A game designer like Andre Poznanski wants us to suspend disbelief while playing a game and be unable to pick up visual cues that tell us something is fake, he tells New Scientist writer Douglas Heaven. Particularly challenging in this respect is the recreation of wear and tear of building structures, unless it has been digitized from a photographic base, as pictured above. "We want players to walk through a forest and feel that it is a forest, not think, 'Wow, these are beautiful graphics,'" Poznanski said. "We want that part of the brain to switch off."

Photogrammetry has been in use in Hollywood to make special effects in movies look convincingly true, especially when actual places you know in real life get pummeled. The technique, which involves stitching together hundreds, if not thousands, of photographic images of locations taken from every angle and digitizing them into 3D models, is now invading Silicon Valley -- or Poland. As Heaven writes, Polish video-game studios are using photogrammetry in their development of upcoming games, in which photorealistic replicas of rooms, objects, streets, etc, will be created.

Using photogrammetry to achieve virtual reality in a game "lets you do things you cannot do in reality," such as speeding a car through a digitally mastered and very familiar-looking street in your neighborhood, and that gives players added thrill and immersion, according to Krzysztof Plonka of game studio Better Reality, whose origins are in the film effects industry. It will want to make gamers sacrifice a terabyte of hard-drive space on their computers and game consoles for the experience, presuming the hardware in the future can download and upload games in a reasonable amount of time and handle the massive amounts of data without freezing or even hiccuping, breaking the immersion.

And you thought Blu-rays take a long time to load.

Photorealism and virtual reality might be too much in some cases, making some stranger-than-fiction objects look fake in the digital environment. Poznanski had to remove out of a game some rock formations that he photographed because they ironically didn't look convincing in the fake world and might've suggested to game players that they were made up. So the games of the future still won't be completely 100 percent reality. Just 99 percent.

Video Presents a Wake-Up Call for Getting Better Sleep 

All of us know how lack of sufficient sleep, which is recommended to be seven to eight hours every night, affects us. Mess with sleep, and it will mess with you big time. To reinforce why it's important to get enough shut-eye, Asap Science has produced this sleep video below. For example, if you average six hours of sleep a night for two weeks, your response time diminishes to that of a legally drunken person with a 0.1 percent blood-alcohol level.

If you have slept less than the generally recommended seven to eight hours a night for a few nights, you will need to repay your sleep debt with a couple of extra-long sleep nights. However, just like sleep debt, sleep surplus can have detrimental effects on our bodies -- including higher mortality. But with the busy lives we lead, we're much more likely to be operating with sleep debt than surplus. So live a little (more). Go take a power nap.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVQlcxiQlzI#t=163[/youtube]

Korean Shipbuilders Forge Ahead with Robotic Exoskeletons

For the last few years, everyone from academics to the U.S. military has spent serious time and energy developing robotic exoskeletons for all manner of projects. But while research in the United States is still plodding through R&D, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering has already started field-testing robotic exoskeletons at its Okpo-dong shipyard.

In tests that were undertaken last year, Daewoo’s engineers equipped a team of workers with prototype exoskeletons to understand the system’s limitations.

Credit: Daewoo

Credit: Daewoo

Built to fit a 5'3" to 6' tall person, the current exoskeleton prototype is a completely self-supporting  61.7-lb machine. Composed of carbon-fiber, aluminum alloy, and steel components, the exoskeleton has a 3-hr battery life and gives its wearer the ability to lift objects up to 66 lb with ease. To lend a wearer augmented strength, the exoskeleton employs a series of electric motors and hydraulic joints that are powered by a backpack-style rig.

During tests, the Daewoo exoskeleton displayed an effective level of dexterity, assisting workers with precise control as they moved heavy loads. Though the exoskeletons were able to accomplish their core goal of augmenting strength and diminishing fatigue, workers in the test did report some difficulties. Chief among these issues were frustrations with the exoskeleton’s lack of speed and its inability to operate properly when test subjects twisted or contorted their bodies.

While there are still many hurdles to overcome before Daewoo’s exoskeletons are ready for full-time employment, the company believes they could take shipbuilding production to the next level. Ideally, Daewoo’s engineers would like to outfit an entire workforce with exoskeletons capable of aiding workers no matter what movements they’re making. What’s more, they believe that exoskeletons capable of lifting up to 220 lb could come online in short order.

This article was originally published on Engineering.com and is adapted in its entirety with permission. For more stories like this please visit Engineering.com.

Illustrator's Slam-Dunk Visualizations of Tired Expressions 

What happens when a visual artist gets literal with cliches commonly used in sports? Funny sketches involving contemporary and legendary sports figures, with some pop television and movie references thrown in, that's what.

The sports site Bleacher Report hooked up with New York-based illustrator and sports fan Henry Kaye to create a collection of drawings that visually express "15 classic sports cliches." You don't need to be a sports fan to enjoy "Sports Cliches Illustrated," but having some inside knowledge will make it all the more enjoyable. Enjoy the gallery here.

Credit: Henry Kaye

Top photo credit:  The Astronauts game studio

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