By far the most extreme gaming and simulation platform we’ve seen, the Nova places you in a fully untethered ball that’s free to spin in any direction, creating all sorts of wild gravity effects for total immersion in a range of different vehicle types.
It’s the work of New Zealand startup Eight360, which has risen from true garage status to produce what Founder/CEO Terry Miller calls, “the crazy spinning ball of death.” Terry spoke to us from a birthing center in Wellington just one day after the birth of his first child. “She came before the midwife even turned up,” he told me, “so we had an accidental home birth on the bathroom floor. Surprisingly quick, just fell out.”
Infused with the manic energy of both sleepless new father and sleepless startup founder, Miller explained how the idea started out as a “weekend hobby beer project” at the Wellington Makerspace, to perhaps build a helicopter hover training rig – including VR was merely an excuse to buy headsets. The initial “super janky” prototype was blacked out, totally dark inside and ran off a car battery. “It actually worked surprisingly well,” says Miller, “until some metal shavings got in the computer and blew it up, while someone was inside it. It’s OK, it was one of us. A founder, that’s fine. But it was actually really cool, and we thought we could make this better.”
The team raised enough cash to move into a half-office in a condemned building. “It was a leaky garage, half full of cars and half full of us,” Miller says. “Water pissed in and pooled on the floor when it rained, and it was up a dodgy ramp, so we couldn’t get these big balls in and out without some difficulty. But it was cheap!”