IBM's Sword Art Online Virtual Reality Experience Detailed in 10-Minute Video Report

posted on by Rafael Antonio Pineda
Slice monsters, hug other players in "alpha" demo shown in Daisuki post

Anime Consortium Japan's Daisuki service posted a 10-minute video report of IBM's "Sword Art Online: The Beginning" virtual reality demonstration on Monday. Daisuki's Eri Maruyama walked through the entire experience, from orientation with lab-coat-wearing techs and 3D-scanning of players for their avatars, to slicing monsters and even hugging other players' avatars.

Those who participated in the demonstration were able to scan their bodies, which were then rendered as 3D avatars for the demonstration. Users were then able to manipulate their in-game avatar using a variety of hardware, including an Oculus Rift (Developer Kit 2) for head-tracking and VR visuals, Leap Motion and Ovrvision for hand manipulation, a Microsoft Kinect 2 for body movement, and special footwear to detect foot movement. The hardware was labeled "Nervegear Prototype." "Nervegear" is the name of the virtual reality hardware used by the characters in the original Sword Art Online story to interact with the game.

The beginning of the demonstration placed users in a "bazaar" environment, allowing them to test their ability to manipulate world objects. Later in the demonstration, users were able to fight The Gleam Eyes (from the 74th floor of the game in the original story), alongside three other users.

Pre-registration for the "Alpha" of the demonstration reached 99,800 people, although only 208 applicants were chosen. The test took place in Tokyo from March 18-20.

IBM Japan refers to the project as a "virtual reality massive multiplayer online game (VRMMO)," although it has not laid out any plans to continue the project past the initial test, nor has it specified if the alpha test will be the the precursor to a larger VRMMO project.

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