IBM Cognitive Releases First ‘Sword Art Online: The Beginning’ Photos

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The reality of virtual reality is coming to the surface with the increasing number of companies involved in developing the technology. We are just months away from the first consumer ready retail product from Oculus rift coming out. So the real question is, just how close are we to full dive technology like that seen in anime series like Sword Art Online, Log Horizon or .hack?

IBM is banking on us being a lot closer then we think. IBM just announced it will be sponsoring development of a Sword Art Online VR project with its IBM Cloud Services and SoftLayer technologies. 208 people will be selected from a lottery in Japan to ‘alpha’ test the project titled “Sword Art Online: The Beginning”. If all of this sounds familiar, it sounds like the start of its namesake Anime/Manga. The project is more of a promotional experiment to test out VR then it is an actual playable game. So sorry to dash your hopes for a playable game any time soon.

They just launched the site where residents in Japan can sign up to be apart of this alpha test. Just click here. A 3D image of your body will be taken and you will get to test out IBM’s first trip into VRMMO starting tomorrow. Just ahead of tomorrows started test run, photos were released of what the VR world may look like and a look at the hardware itself which ironically is called “NerveGear”. For those of you who have watched SAO, you know the NerveGear name very well. NerveGear was the headset that trapped players in the game with the promise of killing them when they died in the game unless they beat the game.

And in case you don’t think IBM is serous about the development of cognitive systems, Listen to this description of a Neurosynaptic chip released by them in 2014:

What is a cognitive chip? The latest SyNAPSE chip, introduced on August 7, 2014, has the potential to transform mobility by spurring innovation around an entirely new class of applications with sensory capabilities at incredibly low power levels. This is enabled by an revolutionary new technology design inspired by the human brain. IBM built a new chip with a brain-inspired computer architecture powered by an unprecedented 1 million neurons and 256 million synapses. It is the largest chip IBM has ever built at 5.4 billion transistors, and has an on-chip network of 4,096 neurosynaptic cores. Yet, it only consumes 70mW during real-time operation — orders of magnitude less energy than traditional chips. As part of a complete cognitive hardware and software ecosystem, this technology opens new computing frontiers for distributed sensor and supercomputing applications.

With increased processing power and the massive step forward in low energy high output computing, IBM is getting us closer to computers which would have the ability to process a VR world which, to seem realistic, would require tremendous processing speed. Plus add to that for a truly rich MMO world to be reactive to the players, this chip would help develop an entirely new generation of immersive gaming.

We just got back from SxSW convention and tried out several experimental VR technology that Samsung and others have not released to the public yet and I can tell you that we are a lot closer to full dive VRMMO then anyone really thinks. Check out the photos below from the SAO facebook page and be sure to stay tuned for our coverage of VR tech from South By South West.

Robert Prentice