September 21, 2017

It Takes a Community: Join the Ultimate VR Challenge to Explore Life on Mars

With HP Mars Home Planet, virtual reality is about to take a giant leap for humankind. Moving beyond the world of entertainment, VR is...

With HP Mars Home Planet, virtual reality is about to take a giant leap for humankind. Moving beyond the world of entertainment, VR is the medium of choice for a global community of visionaries on a mission to explore the colonization of Mars as our future home planet.

Currently, over 25,000 community members are onboard with this initiative – working individually or in groups – including leading scientists, engineers, architects, artists, designers, other professionals and students. Technicolor is working with HP, NVIDIA, and the other project partners on the creative and technical aspects of the VR experience – guiding them on the journey to bring this sophisticated environment to life, including its futuristic cityscape, transportation system, and other urbanization elements.

Community members are provided with forty square kilometers of terrain that’s been accurately recreated in a digital elevation model using photogrammetry from NASA. This terrain model serves as the foundation upon which community members can start to build their vision for a Mars colony that could support 1M inhabitants.

Dave Witters, VFX Supervisor at the Technicolor Experience Center (TEC) and Community Manager for the Mars Home Planet Project, noted, ”The members of the community are developing and collaborating on this future city of Mars. There is a lot of free thinking going on and they are challenged with the criteria and constraints of Mars and the possibilities of working in the future in a low-gravity environment with advanced materials.”

In his role as community manager, Witters engages community members to bring their unique visions to the project, earn a chance to have their designs included in the Mars Home Planet VR experience, and even win prizes for the most inspired submissions. Along the way, members will be able to find terrain models on the project platform, ask questions about the challenge, and track progress of the initiative.

“Groups will have to consider what are the possibilities – what would it take transportation-wise, what would it take to provide life-support, and what needs to be created to not only protect people in that environment but also build an infrastructure that allows and encourages the inhabitants to somehow thrive in the harsh environment on Mars,” said Witters.

As submissions are entered, Witters will evaluate and position the designs in a compelling layout and then develop the look and feel of the ensuing virtual reality piece. He is also tasked with ensuring that viewers will have an enjoyable sense of agency as they experience the final virtual reality content.

Ultimately, Technicolor and its VR team will help develop a virtual reality experience based on this community’s many contributions.

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