“We started with a blank canvas and the most mysterious and complex organ known to man”
Growing up in an era where Magic School Bus cartoons shaped my childhood and live colonoscopies have become as commonplace on television as commercials, you could say I have a healthy interest in how the human body works. I am fascinated with the skull and limb replacements made possible by recent 3D printing technology and as of late, have a borderline obsession with the chipsets being designed to actually mimic the human brain. For me, the only passion that trumps my technological love affair with science is music. I have spent countless, innumerable hours of my life trying to unlock the magic box that is responsible for the creation of sounds that evoke emotion, recall a memory, incite your legs to dance and your body to soar. Where does this sonic wonderment come from, and how is it created? As it turns out, I’m not the only one interested in the answer to that question. Thanks to the big brains over at game studio Kite & Lighting, Oculus users can now take a virtual journey through the actual mind and imagination of a musician.
“The crown jewel of the human experience”
The debut trailer for the GE Neuro, a first-of-its-kind VR experience into the mind of a musician, is visually spectacular. Beyond that, it encourages you to consider the magnitude of what has been accomplished to create such a revolutionary journey. The mind contains one hundred billion neurons communicating through trillions of connections – that is more connections than there are stars in our galaxy. The mapping of such an expanse was a responsibility that Kite and Lighting did not take lightly. Before settling on the mind of a musician as the project’s debut, they spent weeks studying the various stages of the mind in various vessels of interest – athletes, creative/logical thinkers, a person in love, the mind of a person with Alzheimer’s - and on and on. Put plainly, the combination of VR with a subject as compelling as the brain resulted in what they said was a massive creative chain reaction. But one thing remained clear - the immersive visual display offered by the Oculus would provide the perfect vessel in which to experience this trip.
“A compelling, beautiful journey into the mind of a musician”
For the pilot project, Kite and Lighting chose keyboardist, songwriter, DJ and photographer Reuben Wu of the British band Ladytron. Real MRIs were used to capture and then create the visualization of his amygdala surrounded by neurological responses to thoughts, ideas, fears and memories, and Wu was even given creative license to compose the accompanying soundtrack to the project. The result is a psychedelic and trippy VR experience, which shrinks the user down to nano scale in order to walk around and explore the musician’s brain. A fascinating idea in its own right, the project is the first of what I (and the team over at GE) hope will be many, and adds a whole new appeal to the world of VR – a field of technology which is still in its relative infancy. Inventions such as GE’s Neuro, which effortlessly straddle the line between education and entertainment, are just what VR gadgets like the Oculus need to bring new life into their future.
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