Birdly Virtual Reality Flight Simulator is a research project being conducted at the Zurich University of the Arts. Lecturer Max Rheiner and a small team of students began experimenting with a virtual reality rig last November, culminating in the the Birdly system that Max and his team are now taking on tour.
It simulates the bird’s flying field of view while the users lay flat on Birdly’s platform with both hands strapped on the arm rest which is supposed to simulate bird’s wings. Users will be wearing an Oculus headset to experience the immersive flying trip!
Over six months, this team fabricated and tested several prototype rigs before coming up with the Birdly system we used. And surprisingly, the current setup looks very polished–more like a beautifully crafted modern furniture than homemade exercise machine. The rig looks like a futuristic massage table, with users lying flat on their belly atop the padded frame. Users put on an Oculus HMD (the first development kit) along with headphones, before stretching their arms out on what are essentially wings. A fan is mounted on the front of the rig simulates wind being blown in the user’s face.
Visually immersed through a Head Mounted Display you are embedded in a high resolution virtual landscape charged with interactive zones and entertaining surprises.
Unlike a common flight simulator you do not conquer the sky with a joystick, mouse and lots of buttons: you simply embody a graceful bird. Birdly approaches the dream of flying through combining the best available technology with unconventional design methods. You command your flight with arms and hands which directly correlates to the wings (flapping) and the primary feathers of the bird (navigation). This input is reflected in the flight model of the bird and returned as a physical feedback by the simulator through nick, roll and heave movements.