Watch US drift racer Matt Powers drive a real car in a VR world

The complex tech behind blending real world and virtual reality driving
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As cool uses for VR technology goes, this video has to be one of the most audacious and impressive.

Viral video chasers Castrol Edge stuck Formula Drift driver (and holder of best name ever) Matt Powers behind the wheel of a race car, and inside an Oculus Rift headset.

Read this: 10 ways Oculus Rift will shock you

He then navigated a course inside a virtual world while pulling some frankly insane drifts. It's the poor guy in the passenger's seat that we feel most sorry for.

According to Castrol Edge, it's the first time anyone has driven a moving vehicle while wearing a virtual reality headset – and we believe them. However, while sticking a headset on a driver and getting them to burn around an empty airfield may seem relatively simple – the tech is actually pretty involved.

Adam Amaral, creative technologist for the video revealed a little of the technical challenges in getting Oculus into moving car and matching up real and online driving:

In depth: How VR is making for more immersive experiences

"A combination of sensors and the cars onboard data were used. Specifically we used a RTK GPS unit which is accurate up to 1 cm to pinpoint the starting point of the car, so that the starting point in the virtual level matched up to the real world," he told Wareable.

"Data captured included steering angle, throttle, brake, handbrake, orientation and heading. Since the Oculus Rift is not meant to be in a moving vehicle, we had to subtract the cars orientation from the Oculus Rift's, so the headset didn't think he was turning his head when the car turned," explained Amaral.

However, once all the car's data was captured, it had to be fed back into the VR headset, and all at a latency low enough to keep Matt Power's lunch down.

"We fed all this data into a game engine so we effectively were using the real car as a giant game controller to our virtual car. This technique allowed us to update his position at at the required 75Hz to match the Oculus Rift refresh rate and give a fairly low nausea experience.

If you loved that, why not check out these videos of people totally losing their minds while playing Oculus Rift.


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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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