The main thought about the jDome is that it should be designed for the regular gamer. This means low cost product, ability to use off the shelf hardware and the possiblity to easily put the jDome away when you are finished gaming and want to watch a movie or because your mom is tired of having an OmnImax-Theater in the living room!
The jDome encompass all this and more! Often when you try to launch a new gaming product which alters your gaming experience, the software has to be changed as well. This means that you have to make the game developers change their software in order to use your product. But in order for the game developers to feel inclined to change their software to work with your product, you have to have enough gamers, the "installed base", out there, who has already bought your Product in the first place! Catch 22.
With a jDome this is not a problem since at least 90% of the First Person Single Player Games can alter the Field of View (FOV) in a game with a few simple commands - ergo the software "installed base" is enormous!
I want this to happen - do you?
How does a jDome work?
Just put a jDome in front of a projector, mirror the image in the projector, start your game and change the Field of View in it - it is actually as simple as that!
You don't need special computer hardware or software - just one projector and a jDome display.
A simple solution to a complex problem
What is the catch then? Usually these systems cost everywhere from $10000 to $30000 or more and need lots of computers and projectors. How can I get away with saying it will only cost you fraction of that price?
The solution is to think as a gamer and how a gamer plays his games, and as I am a gamer this was not a problem. The jDome works best if you play as you always do anyway, namely keep your head still and let the mouse do the looking as usual. By doing this you don't need a costly lens or more projectors than one, because that which is distorted and somewhat unfocused is in your peripheral view. The only thing you need in your peripheral view is motion detection - and the jDome provides just that...
Want proof of this? Well if you have eyeglasses you have your answer right there... and for you others, try this experiment: hold up a piece of paper (or something with some text on it) in front of you, now move the paper towards the side of you, while still looking straight ahead. Pretty soon you can't read it. With a jDome you will get focus right where you need it - straight ahead - but you wont miss the bad guy who sneaks up from the side, which you will "detect in the corner of your eye"...
This makes the design of the jDome display, in a way, quite easy. All you need is a foldable domed display and off you go - really low tech - which will make the production cost low.
The story of the jDome
As long as I can remember I've been interested in computer games and the worlds they present. I think I made my first computer game when I was 12 years old, when there were hardly any computers around!
When Virtual Reality (VR) came I thought, wow, now the last obstacle to get inside the game, at least visually, was within reach. But the implementations didn't work very well and were very expensive. For years I waited patiently for the the technology to get better, but nothing really happened, not in the consumer market anyway.
At this time (2005) I frequented the local OmnImax-theater, Cosmonova, and I thought - it´s like being here - in the world - which was currently shown. How about if I tried this at home with a smaller domed screen in front of my projector on a game? I also knew I could enlarge the Field of View in most games in order to show more of the world of the game.
But would it work, without any special lenses or in-game calculations to correct the perspective? Only way to find out was to build some sort of proof-of-concept prototype. So I made a simple wire-frame and scotch-taped numerus badly cut letter-sized papers onto it. I fired up Doom 3 with my projector and was suddenly inside...
To be continued...