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27 Jan, 2010 13:06

Russian inventors break new ground in virtual reality gaming

Two Russian-born inventors have created the world's first virtual reality sphere. The equipment, resembling a giant hamster ball, allows users to fully immerse themselves in a game's environment like never before.

Virtusphere is the world's first fully-immersive virtual reality locomotion simulator developed by the Latypov brothers, who now live in the US.

The gadget’s sensors and wireless receivers connect the gamer to what is going on inside the virtual action, while at the same time allowing 360-degree movement.

Virtusphere is 10-feet in diameter and lets a user of any size delve into any type of new reality, ranging from virtual tourism to complete presence inside any computer game.

"The best activity is, for example, 10 spheres, and ten users inside the environment, and they will be able to interact with each other,” says Ray Latypov.

The sphere, which weighs almost 200 kg (440 lb) and entails a rather intensive workout, may also offer players a more physically-active way to spend time doing what they like.

However, the pleasure of owning Virtusphere comes at a price. Taking up to four hours to assemble, each one by hand, a set costs $35,000.

Considering the price and size, for now, the simulator is mostly used in military training.

"Imagine, we can put a combat soldier into a Virtusphere and place them in any combat scenario anywhere in the world,” says Jim Dimascio, Chief Operating Officer of Virtusphere. “We can train policemen, fire safety, by taking out the gun manipulator and using a fire hose. So putting them into dangerous virtual environments without the risk of their human life. That is what simulation training is all about."

Requests for half of the products sold have been coming from outside the US. The Latypov brothers say they expect their invention to become a giant new step in virtual reality experience.

By not replacing but extending real life, they expect Virtusphere to explode on the market in the years to come.