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One-of-a-kind FPS simulator puts players inside Battlefield 3

Virtual reality has nothing on a new, one-of-a-kind, military shooter simulation machine designed specifically for Electronic Arts' upcoming blockbuster game Battlefield 3.

Channel 5's popular tech culture program The Gadget Show worked with researchers and technicians from across Europe to create what can only be described as the ultimate get-your-butt-off-the-couch gaming experience for fans of first-person shooters.

Teased in a clip on the U.K.-based show's YouTube channel, the room-sized machine features a curving screen that forms a wall around the player and is powered by a quintet of high-definition projectors. Powerful surround sound bombards the user's eardrums as an overhead ambient illumination system strobes in tandem with the game's lighting effects.

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An innovative, omni-directional treadmill permits authentic walking and side-stepping movements while keeping the player in a confined area. It appears as though multiple cameras track these movements and map them to traditional navigation controls. The controller, meanwhile, has been swapped out for specially designed, realistic looking guns – including both a pistol and a rifle – that allow players to aim naturally.

The kicker? In the final seconds of the video a player yelps and reaches down to his calf. It would seem that, for better or worse, this enormously complex machine even simulates the pain of being struck by a bullet.

Questions abound, of course. Does it really do what it seems to in this brief clip? How -- and, more importantly, how well -- does it work? Who, exactly, made it? Is there any chance that an obscenely wealthy gamer with a spare room in his mansion might be able to procure one of these setups for personal use? How much would it cost?

Alas, we must wait until next week to learn more about this unequivocally unique video game peripheral. The Gadget Show will reveal the device in all its apparent glory in an episode airing October 24th.

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About the Author
Game and Gadget Reporter

Chad Sapieha has been writing about video games and consumer gadgets for the Globe and Mail since 2003. His work has been published in magazines, newspapers, and Web sites across North America, and he has appeared as an expert on television and radio newscasts. More

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