Crash Test Dummy

for: time's up

The crash test dummy series of events toured several european cities in 2006. In Munich and Budapest SPIN by time’s up was part of the show. Created in 2000 SPIN is a way ahead of time interface to walk virtual worlds. For the crash test dummy project, time’s up asked us to realize new levels in accordance with the shows theme of “surveillance and control” which we did in cooperation with Michael Höpfel.


The spherical projection interface has a diameter of 3 meters and can be entered through a closeable hole on one of its poles. The big sphere rests on 9 bowling balls and thus can be moved in all directions by a person walking inside, similarly to a hamster inside its wheel. From the outside a seamless projection covers the sphere which gives the user a 360° of freedom experience in a virtual world.

photo by time’s up

Even though the structure of the sphere can be seen from inside, it is easy to focus ones eyes on the virtual environment rather than on the spheres skin thus gaining a relatively good sense of full immersion.


Before entering the sphere the visitor had to put on one of the crash-test-jackets. Those were equipped with speakers and a microphone to have contact to the outside world and hear the worlds sounds. Further the jacket carried pulse and breath sensors whose data were used as parameters in the virtual world.


In all of the labyrinths it was the goal to find a glowing sphere which marked the exit and served as the entrance to one of the other levels.

Besides the very unique experience of being able to explore a virtual world by actually just walking around, some adjustments of the physical laws had to be made to match the experience of being able to walk in every direction, but not being able to step up or fall down. Since we wanted to allow the player to also climb objects we built a physics engine that followed the physics behavior insects may experience. When walking onto a bevel the world around you seemed to rotate, so that the bevel became the normal floor. From that perspective the former floor looks like a bevel. In fact we couldn’t decide yet if it’s really the world that rotated, or that it was the players perspective that rotated inside a static world…

Tube World

In this world you needed to find your way through a 3-dimensional tube labyrinth. In a tube you see two ends to which you can steer to. However when you steered to the walls or when you were imprecise in your walk to one of the ends the world around you seemed to rotate, since you were actually also climbing the bevels of the walls in a way. In that way a good sense of direction was necessary to remember where exactly you wanted to go when reaching one of the crossings.

The data of the breath-sensor was used to control the behavior of doors blocking ones way inside the tubes. Facing such a door one had to take and hold a deep breath in order to be able to pass it.

Relative World

In the Relative World we explored the basic contradiction between the explorable virtual architecture of a building and another coordinate system which reflects, that within SPIN you actually only walked to sides.
So some gates to other levels were hidden in a global coordinate system and others were distributed in the architecture of the building which would rotate each time you hit a wall to become a floor. The arrows were hints that there is an alternative, pervasive world that is worth to explore. The arrows didn’t rotate when the architecture did and simply pointed to one of the gates. That way it was easy to find that gate when focusing on that system and forgetting about the tumbling architecture around you.

Paper World

Once again you were confronted with a labyrinth where you obviously need to follow some paths. The paper world managed to stabilize your trip by rotating accordingly. However it was also possible to fall from a paper by crossing its edges. In that case you were placed back to your last save position.
By breathing you blew paper around you so that it made ripples.
The basic idea for the paper world was also derived from the kind of abstract, mathematical idea of one-sided surfaces. So some surfaces were only visible and walkable from one side, which made it sometimes hard to find the right path to a gate at the horizon.

The 4 projections surrounding the sphere were generated from only one pc with two graphic cards. Image-Warping was realized via 2-pass rendering as the vvvv-screenshot below shows two of the four distorted renderer outputs in its upper right corner:

The video below shows a timelapse recording of setting up SPIN, which takes about 4 hours.

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Additional Information:
SPIN documentation on
related: egosoccer - a game concept for SPIN.