Short VR Film ‘Dirrogate’ Offers Intriguing Preview of Future Tech Wonders

Science fiction writer and Virtual Reality (VR) developer Clyde DeSouza has produced a short VR Graphic Novel, Dirrogate, based on his near-future science fiction novel, Memories with Maya. Dirrogate is an early example of VR Cinema intended for VR headsets like Oculus Rift or Gear VR, but for those who don’t have yet a VR headset DeSouza has posted a spherical video version to Vrideo and YouTube.

On both Vrideo or Youtube, choose the highest resolution that works for you and go Fullscreen. Then use the mouse to move around the view.

What happens when you mix virtual reality, haptic interfaces, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence? In Memories with Maya DeSouza introduces the “Wizer,” a fictional near-future Augmented Reality (AR) see-through visor driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI). The Wizer is coupled with 3D scans of real environments generated by wall-mounted laser cameras (think next-gen Kinect) to insert remote participants seamlessly in real environments, Holodeck-style.

These “dirrogates” — digital surrogates of your friends — are real-time 3D stereoscopic avatars driven by real movements and body/face language. They can visit your living room from the other side of the planet. Read the rest of my review on io9 (spoilers), or even better read the book, and be prepared to have your concept of reality blurred by the awesome prospects of tomorrow’s VR and AR.

3D Cinema for Emotional Engineering

Think in 3DIn the meantime, VR cinema offers a next-generation entertainment experience by placing the viewer inside the story told by the filmmakers, with 3D immersion at 360 degrees, and soon interactive VR scenes. DeSouza has written a book, Think in 3D, to explain the art of storytelling in 3D to directors and cinematographers venturing into 3D film-making.

DeSouza argues that 3D cinema is all about emotional engineering. “3D movies are about immersing the viewer in a more accurate representation of the world,” he explains in the book. “The ‘depth channel’ is unlocked in a 3D movie.”

“Cinematic VR is a medium befitting of a whole new language,” DeSouza told Hacked. “A language we are all learning. There are no experts yet, and the rules are simple: Don’t cause physical harm to audiences.”

For the first time, storytellers truly have a medium to suspend the feeling of disbelief in audiences and while exciting is also challenging, because after all, if the story or storyteller is boring, the audience have the freedom to look around in the scene.

Cinematic VR is just the beginning. Future VR and AR technologies like the Wizer will eliminate geographical barriers to social interaction, augment our concept of reality with a seamless blend of virtual and real, and even, as described in the novel, bring back convincing copies of dead persons. In Memories with Maya, DeSouza hints at the intriguing possibility that future technologies could make dirrogates not only convincing, but also subjectively self-aware.

“The Wizer a portmanteau of ‘visor + AI’ is the futuristic visor that the protagonists in Dirrogate, the VR Graphic Novel, invent,” DeSouza told Hacked. “It is Google Glasses on steroids. The Wizer is a slick form factor eye-wear, like futuristic sunglasses with Narrow AI libraries that augment the wearers’ intelligence. Future versions of the Wizer will be the beginnings of a ‘Hive mind’ – the collective intelligence of mankind on demand – Wikipedia on steroids.”

Images from Clyde DeSouza.

Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.