Unity Labs released an excellent proof-of-concept mixed reality demo earlier this year, demonstrating the power of merging the real and virtual worlds. The project’s creators have announced that the experiment will be available on Quest sometime next year. Unity Labs debuted Unity Slices: Table, a proof-of-concept social mixed reality app that effortlessly unites people—both local and remote—into a shared experience centred around a game board, at Facebook Connect at the end of October. They have shown all this on their youtube channel.
In the clip, We can see two other users around the table, and then the view fluidly transitions between the real-world passthrough view and the virtual world. Is there anything else that attracts your interest? One of the two users we see is present, while the other is not. The local player’s actual body becomes visible as the virtual perspective is wiped away in favour of the real-world view. In contrast, the virtual player’s body stays as an avatar (because they aren’t actually in the actual room). One goal of Unity Slices: Table, according to Eric Provencher, one of the project’s developers, is to break down the barrier between local and remote users by making both types of players feel equally present in the experience.
This is why experience centred around the virtual chessboard, which serves as common ground for everyone in the scene, whether in the same room or on opposite sides of the globe. The chessboard not only brings people together around a common point in space, but it also rests on a physical surface, transforming it into a virtual touchscreen with actual haptics (thanks to the natural surface underneath). Everyone (local or remote) ‘touches’ the same board simultaneously in the same spatial frame of reference, making it feel like a shared piece of reality as well.
“It took us a while to get to a system that worked smoothly,” Provencher wrote. “But the moment we first hopped into a networked session with expressive avatars, and could both see and hear the other person tapping the table over the voice chat as if we were in the same room, was truly mind-blowing.” “Bringing this physical component of our life into a shared experience seemed nearly miraculous.”
As mentioned above, this demo will hit the Facebook connect in 2022. It seems like metaverse isn’t so far away as we think. Let’s hope it lives up to our expectations or even surprises us.