VR or 360 panoramas apps for sharing?

Have you tried any of those Virtual Reality (VR) headset yet? Did you enjoy looking around being immerse into a totally different environment. Have you even had the opportunity to move around and interact with some object or even other avatar?

Actually, you can even create your own VR environment quite easily. Although, it depends on the level of “realism” you would like to achieve: you can upload panoramic photos or video of your physical environment, which will be realistic visually but not very immersive because of the lack of interaction or you can upload your own 3D environments fully programmable.

As an architect, I was  looking for a 3D VR application that would allow me to share an experience of the project I was working on online with the other architects and designers or even with the client.

I have tried a few of those applications, here are my findings. The best option, from a budget and mobility point of view, these days is to opt for a format that can be “experienced” with a smartphone and a google cardboard style headset. Another option, much more expensive,  is to choose the heavier solution using a head mounted display linked to a powerful computer, not as convenient but brings more immersivity. Today’s post will focus on the former.

Considering buying a VR headset is a bit of a hassle; so many option out there.  Basically, any cheap Google cardboard style headset  is good enough. The one I picked up is the MergeVR: using soft material, it is more comfy and it offers buttons to interact with the VR environment. It fits easily any size of smartphone. It works wonders with my LG G5.

That aside, back to the software. After having modelled the whole project in details, instead of having to render dozen of stills from all the angles, I thought a VR experience would be a better solution to immerse the client in his project. Two main choices from there: either you want to walk around inside the 3d model, or you render 360 images that let you look around from a fix location. I tried both, not able to share much without giving my login I am afraid. Here is what I found:

  • InVR : Easy to upload any 3D model. Can be straight from inside Unity through a plugin or via an FBX upload. The mobile app is ok, no sharing yet.
  • Iris: divide into two :
    • Iris Scope for 360 panoramas accessible via smartphone/cardboards. The  app is neat and quite professional. That is the one I used to show to the client. No sharing though.
    • Iris Prospect to share 3D model like obj, sketchup or Revit, although for those, you will need Oculus or HTC Vive.
  • Roundme: 360 panorama online made easy. This is more for everyone uploading their photos. Probably the most user friendly  for sharing 3D 360 panoramas. Check this sample that I upload there when working on this Saydnaya prison project.

  • WebGl: which is actually the option we develop for the final project. Saydnaya prison. However, we didn’t had enough time to develop the whole VR environment. It is “only” 360 Interactive Panoramas you can access from a desktop/laptop web browser.

There are of course some other apps on the market. The one mention above are working on Android. Let me know if you find anything else worth mentioning.

Happy VR.