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This Oculus App Makes Programming Tangible To Non-Coders

Reach out, touch a flock of birds, and change how they behave. That's just one thing you can do in Loop.

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For those of us who can't, the ability to code well enough to create entire virtual worlds almost feels god-like. In Loop, a new virtual-reality project by Stefan Wagner, anyone can become a coding guru, just by reaching out into the virtual world and changing its parameters—anything from the number of geese flying overhead, to how reflective a surface is, to even how the branches on a tree grow.

Inspired by the planet factory scene in the 2005 film adaptation of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Loop takes place in a massive virtual world which the player explores by walking on a treadmill while wearing an Oculus Rift. The player walks along a transparent path through space, above clouds and mountains, encountering scenes both natural and surreal. By reaching out and "grabbing" aspects of Loop's gameworld (a natural-feeling feat, accomplished with the aid of Leap Motion), a Matrix-style coding interface pops up, allowing the player to adjust its parameters as easily as dragging a finger.

Wagner is an interaction and motion designer living in Würzburg, Germany, who was inspired to create Loop after becoming intrigued by the way virtual reality could be used to make programming seem more tangible to non-coders. "I liked the idea that you can use something as tangible as hand gestures in order to manipulate something as abstract as source code," he says. "I like to experiment with media and technology in order to find new ways of making complex 'things' accessible to people, give them an understanding about topics hard to grasp or insights they normally might not have."

Right now, Wagner isn't sure if he will release Loop to the public. It was designed more as interactive exhibition piece, although he says that if he gets enough feedback, he might make the game available for Oculus Rift users to download. As for what he's trying to accomplish, he wants more people to understand how the digital media they consume is created. It's amazing, he says, how "easily virtual worlds and digital imagery can be manipulated and changed by... a line of code or even only one digit." And you don't need to be a coding god to do so.

[via The Creators Project]

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