A fantasy that's fairly common among the human population is to be able to fly, soaring high above the cityscape and over rural farmlands like all those lucky winged creatures get to do on a whim. In pursuit of this desire, mankind has created many things -- airplanes, hot air balloons, wingsuits, and more. Add to that list Birdly, a sort of flight simulator designed for the Oculus Rift
Birdly requires that you lay belly down with arms spread to the side in a wing formation. Using a combination of hydraulics and sensory-motor coupling, Birdly simulates the physical experience of flying, while the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset provides the visual data to manipulate your brain into thinking you're high above the ground (in reality you're propped up just a few feet).
"The participant can control the simulator with his hands and arms, which directly correlates to the wings and the primary feathers of the bird. Those inputs are reflected in the flight model of the bird and displayed physically by the simulator through nick, roll and heave movements," Birdly's design team explains. "Visualized through HMD (Oculus Rift) the participant is embedded in a virtual landscape where his body is the body of a Red Kite. The whole scenery is perceived in the first person perspective of a bird."
Adding to the sense of realism are sonic, olfactoric, and wind feedback -- a fan sits in front of your head and blows air across your body as you soar through the sky. Scents are those of the wilderness and include the smell of the forest, soil, and several other odors.
Pretty neat, don't you think? It's unclear what the future holds for Birdly and whether or not it will be marketed at the mainstream.