Jerry's apartment on Seinfeld is as close to iconic as a boxy, moderately sized Upper West* Side one-bedroom has ever been. Fans of the show spent hours and hours in that apartment, but sometimes that just isn't enough. So with the help of the amazing virtual-reality headset the Oculus Rift and the efforts of one Greg Miller, we can now explore Jerry's cereal collection and vintage Macintosh computer to our hearts' content.
The Oculus Rift is a fairly cheap virtual reality headset designed specifically for gaming. It's not in wide release yet, but it's been astounding everyone who's tried it for about a year now. It looks like a pair of ski goggles, almost: you strap it on and then it uses accelerometers and other sensors to follow the movement of your head as you look around.
Jerry's Place is a project from Greg Miller to recreate the set from Seinfeld completely. Miller used 3-D modeling to sketch out the entire apartment, which then works as a sort of demo for the Rift--not a game, since there isn't really anything to do besides walk around, but similar. Put on the Rift, and you can walk around the apartment, peek into all the rooms, and even find 11 hidden references to specific episodes that Miller scattered around the apartment. You can also explore the apartment without Rift--albeit to less dramatic effect--here.
Development on the Oculus Rift has been mostly experimental so far, since there are a very limited number of Oculus Rifts available, and Greg Miller's project is a really fun example of the kinds of things you can do with it--even if it's just walking around a famous fictional apartment. He wrote in an email:
I've always been a Seinfeld fan, and I just finished watching the complete series from first-to-last episode a couple months ago. I wanted a project to gradually introduce me to Unity [a coding language], so I could put my free subscription to use that came with my Rift. As I was thinking of ideas for a project, I realized I had something awesome right in front of me: a fictional place that many people are intimately familiar with. I just had to do it, as a fan, for the fans.
It took about two months, start to finish, for Miller to find all the details in Jerry's apartment and convert them to a digital room. And it wasn't easy! He wrote on his site:
I could only find one screen shot of Jerry's bedroom, at the end of "The Chicken Roaster." I used a blurry screen grab to texture the painting above his bed, and was able to recreate the bed, sheets and nightstands accurately. Unfortunately, due to the dimensions of the apartment it seems like it would be impossible to actually fit the bedroom the way the show depicts it. It came out cramped, but I'm happy with it.
The hardest part, he says, was figuring out all the most minute details in the apartment, from the VHS and NES collection on the main shelf in the living room to getting the time-appropriate labels for everything in the kitchen. Yeah, he even found 1990s-era labels for the cereal boxes. This app is intense. "I still have no idea what the poster over Jerry's bed is supposed to be though--I had to use a screen shot for the texture," he says.
Miller says this was just for fun. "I've been a programming for 14 years or so, but I consider [coding for the Rift] just a hobby," he says. "It's not that much fun for work, I've found, but really fun for things like this." Mostly, this was a test project for him to figure out how to code this sort of thing. What's next? "My initial thought was that it would be cool to do the set of I Love Lucy," he says. "There could be a toggle-key to switch it from black and white to color."
* An earlier version of this article incorrectly located Jerry's fictional apartment in the Upper East Side rather than the Upper West Side.