Solitary confinement and blindness are obviously terrible things but then why was my gut reaction, "wow, I'd like to know what that's like?" when presented the option? Same can be said of horror movies, war video games, or other stressful situations we put ourselves through. Why do we bother?
Entirely different discussion, but the point is, now we can experience these situations in a more realistic way than ever. People will pay for that. People paid to watch Scream 1, 2 AND 3 to feel aggravated and stressed for a few hours.
Some very cool examples of this media that doesn't exist for pure entertainment purpose are:
1. 6x9 An Immersive Experience in Solitary Confinement as shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. You can experience what nearly 80,000 incarcerated people in the United States experience- a completely controlled environment with no human contact and no light of day.
2. In Notes on Blindness, you can follow writer and academic John Hull's journey into blindness. The work is based on years of his auto cassette recordings of the deterioration of his mind into darkness.
Even though this is on the darker side, immersive reality also has it's place in more lighthearted experiences for people, like second life-- the Kardashians should be on this if they aren't already!
What are your thoughts? Who do you want to be for a few minutes? Or hours, or days? Or just get straight to the point, who's life do you want?
360 Video: Game of Thrones
Imagine if your favorite shows were all a 360 degree experience. You'll have to wonder a little longer, but here's a cool taste of it- the opening intro of Game of Thones has been nicely done into a 360 video.
Best viewed on your phone, but still works on desktop. Use your mouse to drag away and see different angles.
Check it out on their Facebook page.
Focus: Microsoft Hololens (AR)
I recently watched a demo showcasing Microsoft Hololens where a father is able to play with his daughter remotely- it looks like she's there and they are interacting in real time. It has been the most practical and impressive use of AR technology I've seen. It was straight out of Star Wars but even cooler.
In an increasingly global landscape where people are more transient than ever, it's people and specific human connection that we yearn for.
People all over the world and across various socio-economic statuses all have long distance relationships of the family, friends, work, or romantic sort. That makes nearly the entire world the possible user. Everyone wants something that is not within physical proximity, whether it be a person, place, or thing, and that is the power of this technology.
The headset, which debuted just a few weeks ago, is pricer than the Oculus Rift; it costs 3,000 USD for the developer kit. More information on the buzz about it happened at Build 2016.
Notes on F8 and VR
F8, facebook's developer conference, happened this past week with lots for the AR community to be excited about. To give you an idea how high AR | VR was on the agenda- those lucky enough to attend got a free Samsung Gear VR and Galaxy S6 which, signals "you better get on this."
Launch: HTC Vibe
The VR headset from HTC was released yesterday, at a 799 USD, not too far from it's competitor, Oculus Rift, and really seems to give the Rift some heat.
It has two very important elements lacking from other headsets: 1) Room sensors that track your movement around the room and 2) Hand controllers so you can interact and really move in the environment you're "in"
Between these two, you get "room scale VR" meaning, in case your mind was still functional and not blown to pieces after looking around a new world, you can actually move around (note: you need lots of space) this new world and interact with objects and things without pressing a pesky button to represent your hands and feet like on the cheap sets (all I can access or afford right now, no shame).
Here's a concrete example, or at least as concrete as it gets in VR. You're in a world, and there's a cute dog. You want to play with it, so you can grab a ball or stick and throw it. The dog goes after it. Happiness ensues. (View Valve video below)
All of this craziness doesn't come easily. Just like the Rift, you'll need to drop some serious cash, both for hardware and for space in your home. Recommended: PC w/ Intel Core i545-90 or AMD FX 8350 and Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 to get the 90 second refresh rate just like the rift. Others I've seen listed are Alienware X51 gaming PC with an Nvidia GTX 970 graphics card (1200 USD worth of plastic and semiconductors and metals)
Honestly, I'm a regular person and at the time of this writing, I have little idea what I typed in terms of computing requirements, but those things sound expensive enough for me to not buy.
According to an ign review, you'll also need a 6x12 feet space, so anyone that lives in a studio or one bedroom in Asia can just... make friends with someone that has a house. Not to worry, you can still play some games with more fulfillment than the Rift, as long as you can move your arms around comfortably.
Assuming you have all this down, you'll need to mount the senors on the wall (permanent) or keep them on stands. These are to track your head and hands. They're only 3 inch cubes so not so much of a hassle. Once you've found them a home on opposite corners of your space, you need to plug them in. Then you need to connect the two with the cable provided. To make a long story short, there's a total of five cables, three of which need to be plugged into the wall at all times. Rift has none.
-Hand controllers that actually feel like your hands in your virtual world
-Pass thru camera lets you get a glimpse into the real world when needed
-Chaperone system to alert you if you're going to collide with anything in real life
-Very high quality viewing and interactive experience
-Can do lots other sets can't
-1.2 pounds, kind of front heavy
-Frequent adjustment off the headset because it fits weird
-Lacks built in headphones (unlike Rift)
-Crazy amount of cables and power requirements and setup. A three cable bundle to your PC is a constant obstacle in your adventures
Valve's Review (hard to watch without getting jealous)
HTC Vibe Site
I remember it being 1996, flipping to the back of Girl's Life Magazine, to a directory of websites I could visit; it was a short list. After I had exhausted Yahoo Kids and this, I really wasn't sure where else to go. There was still a lot unsafe things for kids at the time and so my access was quite limited.
Naturally, when a technology is new, content is a bit sparse. It was probably the same with books when the printing press was developed, and the same with TV when that got started. If you don't think so, look, this TechCrunch article said so, and they, at this moment are more credible than me.
This has been the most difficult post to write so far, because it required hours of scouring the internet, 403's, bad writing, outdated information, missing information, information written for experts and so on. Oh, and also, to be a real boss at coding for VR/AR requires an understanding of the underlying elements like geometry and objects and even more dense information like this. It's enough to deter the average person, but let's chug on.
Questions to ask before getting into it, or questions in general...
What kind of AR/VR do you want to make? Mobile or PC/System based?
Mobile: Unity (see below)
PC/System: Unity or Unreal
If you're wondering, what's an SDK? Software development kit; set of tools that allow you to build whatever it is you're trying to build. Here's a chart to compare the different ones.
Unreal Engine: C++
For Experienced Programmers:
ARToolKit (recommended open source)
Core Languages to Know:
Good answer to this question on Reddit
YouTube Tutorials on Basics of Making Games:
The Making of Google Cardboard Games Ep. 1 - Unity SDK Intro
Setting Up Google Cardboard Unity SDK and Unity Navigation Plug-in
Create a Virtual Reality Game in Seven Minutes (Google Cardboard)
Tutorial: How to Build a Mobile VR Game with Unity (Google Cardboard)
Official Resources from the Makers Themselves:
Originally this post was supposed to be about Microsoft HoloLens but I thought I'd take a step back and explain more on the differences between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
Virtural Realty (VR) is a computer generated simulation of an environment. It's not a real place, yet with the use of a headset, you feel as though you are there, with a 360 degree view of everything and ability to interact with objects or scenes (though can be limited). You can manipulate the world around you.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a live view of a physical environment that has elements that are generated by a computer. For example, I was at the opening of the Globe Store in Greenbelt where you could set up AR viewing and when you opened your camera phone, you could look around the store but Star Wars characters would appear. Augmented reality is much closer to the real world, well, mostly because it incorporates the actual real world in it. Common usages right now are during sports games, in video games, etc.
What's Better? / More Promising? / Really the Future?
It depends. It's too early to tell, but from what I've seen via the HoloLens, AR will be more accepted and have more applicability and use cases in the more immediate future. VR, for the moment, is quite limited to gaming.
Military, Sports, Adult Industry, Retail, Gaming, Education, Medical, Real Estate/Infrastructure
Focus: Oculus (VR)
So much has been going on in the last few days in the VR world, it's been overwhelming. A few days ago, (3/26/16), the very first Oculus Rift was shipped, at the high but not horrifying price of 599 USD.
Immediately, those lucky enough to get their hands on a set were sharing their thoughts. From hardcore gaming community to tech writers, what seemed to be the general consensus is: the headset is awesome, it looks great, you are very much transported to another world, but for now it's only advisable for those early adopters in the gaming world. Everyone, however, agrees it's the beginning of a game changer. I've summarized my findings below.
Some issues with this version:
-Associated hardware is very costly. Will set you back another few thousand USD
-Issues of motion sickness with the headset on haven't fully been resolved
-Even at barely a pound in weight, it leaves marks on your face if worn too long, like ski goggles, maybe not such a big deal
-Isn't "room scale" meaning you're expected to be seated or standing and not move more than a few feet (don't walk around, you'll get injured like me)
-Peripheral vision is limited
-No hand controllers yet. Still interacting with games the same, old fashioned way, even if the experience is different.
-Game installation seems to be annoying and complicated
But the good parts:
-Images are very clear. You can adjust the distance between your eyes to match what yours actually are. If set up correctly, the image is incredibly clear. This is called the interpupilary distance (IPD) and effects your focus on images
-Looking around is smooth sailing. 90-frames-per-second refresh rate is very smooth and you don't get any kind of visual lag that you do with lesser equipment (which is the case with a lot of mobile VR right now)
-Great accessories. Comes with 3D Audio earphones and a controller that seem to do their jobs well
-Doesn't obstruct your mouth so you can eat and drink without taking it off (serious plus for serious gamers or entertainment consumers, though I'm not sure how you'd see what you're eating, until they figure out how to incorporate human sustenance into the view field
For more details and reviews:
Dan Stapleton, IGN
Adi Robertson, The Verge
Geoffrey Fowler, WSJ
On launch games
Oculus as a company has played a huge part of the accelerated widespread acceptance of VR. I have to admit I'm part of this group. VR has been here for a long time, but Facebook's 2014 acquisition of the Kickstarter funded company was an integral part of validating the space. Imagine like you were just doing you, and then one day Leo DiCaprio wants to hang out with you, without any change, you're suddenly more cool and accepted. Same principle of social proofing applies. Everyone loves Facebook, right, even if you don't, you still use it or at the very least know about it. Mark Z know this is the future. He's often said the mind is the next frontier.
Oculus was founded in 2012 by Palmer Luckey and Brendan Iribe in Irvine, CA. It was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for 2 billion USD.
More on Oculus
Today I suffered my (hopefully last, probably not), VR related injury. It happened at a retail store on 60th and Madison Ave, New York, which upon Googling, appears to be Tods, though in Youvisit is a high end retailer.
I may form a bruise on my arm because I bumped into a wall attempting to get closer to some watches. It was frustrating; I would physically move forward and nothing would happen, I instinctively would reach out and touch, with no gratification. Most importantly, I wanted to do these things because I wanted to buy.
I was skeptical of the application of VR for retail, thinking it should be used for more productive purposes, but after seeing the vivid scenes of the store, take that thought back completely. Though the experience was missing things- ability to touch, sounds of the store, a friendly person to assist you, and even that department store smell (maybe in the future there will be scent cartridges, like ink, that you can insert into the viewer!), I can see how this can be so powerful and possibly addicting. I'm not much for gaming, but for a woman, sure, I'll fall into the stereotype, I do like to shop and could get addicted to this!
My favorite department store is Nordstroms; I live in the Philippines right now. I miss it there. I used to frequent their stores in Downtown Seattle, Bellevue, and Union Square. What if I could just go there right now? Buy all these things? YES PLEASE! Not sure how they'll get their branded bottled water to me though. Maybe with the help of a 3D printer that's in my fridge, haha.
But I digress, let's review the app:
The navigation is like a spaceship dashboard. Looks pretty cool. You do all the choosing inside the headset already instead of before, like with Vrse.
There are so many different categories to choose from: Real Estate, Travel, Restaurant, Most Popular, Live Events, College, Hotel, Business, Venue, Other (porn? haha just kidding; wonder how they'll age verify that- hey your eyes are the size of a 12 year old, access denied!)
The first one I chose was travel. I went to the Lourve in Paris, which I'd like to say I picked because I've been there, which is true, but in reality I picked it because the cursor was moving too quickly and accidentally ended up there.
The first thing that came out of my mouth was *oly *uck. Really, looking around everything was just like it. Even the prototypical tourists. The sounds were there! But then the app kind of hung. I was having a hard time getting out, but eventually was able to.
I like this app a lot but I think it might be better if it were more focused; same can be said of Vrse. I don't see myself having a burning desire to open the app the way I felt about 2048 or Facebook. Is that what we should aim for with VR? Remains to be seen.
VR & AR are for everyone.