Monday evening was my first VR meetup for developers, special education; right down my alley. Really dynamic, full of enthusiastic developers and makers, a few exciting demos on the first floor and loads of speakers on the ground floor. All this in a good old fashion London building, the Hackney House. This blog will cover mostly my experiences with all the demos I have experienced.
First thing I tried was the full body VR immersion kit. It took some time to adjust all the straps around every main bones. Once calibration is done, fit the Oculus Rift on your head and there you are looking in the mirror at your avatar, a character attached to your body and movements. Despite the lack of space (the casual black environment), a sense of scale was given by a couple of statues. A few tweaks using UX interface designed by Dr Harry Brenton, and you have a tail, a gigantic arm or an alien head. The level of presence get higher with every step. I can’t wait to have full hand and fingers tracked.
The next experience was a real-time holograph in VR. You get the headset on to meet the holographic projection of someone in Lithuania in real-time. She couldn’t see me, though, I could see her, and talk to her over the phone saying “hello” and she would wave her hands. Not yet like in Ghost in the Shell but it works, telepresence, yes! However, it would be nice to have a sense of geographic location in the environment, wouldn’t it?
The most exciting demo was about making VR in VR by Constructive Labs. Still in an early stage, the demo let you manipulate objects in VR using HTC Vive and controllers like you would use the mouse and keyboard in 3Dsmax or Unity. On top, we were able to do that in interaction with another person. Their idea is to develop a VROS, Virtual Reality Operating system. Pretty cool stuff! However, again, the environment was really poor. They just used a model of a random brick tower as a gimmick surrounding.
The last demo I tried was more on the interactive storytelling treat made by Bandits Collective. Following the hot panel discussion about 360 video a bit earlier in the evening, I think they nailed it quite well. Their intro for a short movie brings you in a computer generated 360 environment animation based and stylish. It is the environment that make you stay where you are and look where the action happens, though you can check all around and even move. There is no interaction. The action is happening around you. Very promising!
There were a couple of other demos with cardboard and other mobile VR. We know what we get there. I am much more interested with what we don’t know. There is still so much to explore, mostly for me, as you can tell, about spatial environment in VR. On those four demos, only the 360 story has a designed spatial environment that support the experience.