Tag Archives: Augmented Reality

Report from the VR World Congress 2017

Bristol was hosting this three days congress. What a good excuse to explore the West Coast of England. Loved it! How to report from such an big event pact of keynotes, talks, debates and demos about Virtual and Augmented Reality, interactive storytelling and immersive art, architecture visualisation and video game development, to name just a few of the field involved ? I will start with  the general trends, then some key points from the talks, to finish with what really got me hooked.

This event was a solid push from AMD. As far as I can remember, AMD had always an edge to better process 3D on his most known rival Intel. Well, it looks like they are still in the fight, but now to process VR wirelessly with their Nitero tech. And this is important because, being in a virtual environment is pretty cool, however, without any cable in our way, it will be much better.  Hololens has taken that mobility party from the start. They made quite a demo there, bringing forward the Mixed Reality concept. That being said, I am still not convinced with this small field of view and the basic interaction where you pinch things around.

Mk2 in Paris
SoReal in china

In the meantime, the big hype is around VR location-based experiences. Mk2 in Paris looks very neat, curating only high quality content and SoReal, a VR theme Park in China sounds epic. On a hardware note, I am curious to see what kind of headset the Chinese will bring on the market with their DeePoon!

Another main trend is the good old haptic feedback. They are working hard to bring the third sense into the game. We are not sure what shape it will take:  gloves, waves, arms, sensors,…but it was explore in every corner of the congress.

Most important is the effort given to produce high quality content. At this stage, only great content will bring VR to the mass.

Follows bullets points of my tweets and comments of the different talks I followed:

On Wednesday:

  • Vive and the Evolving Ecosystem of VR” with Graham Breen from HTC.
    HTC Vive – Haptic

    What’s next for Vive and his ecosystem evolution? Not much on the hardware side, a part of those haptic gloves shown there. They are focus on helping and promoting content creators with their Viveport platform and the ViveX accelerator.

  • Streaming VR/AR Content over the Web”  with Jamieson Brettle from Google. That’s where it get really exciting! AR/VR through the browser. He was telling about pretty good compression performances for cloud point 3D with Draco. For sound volumetric or spatial audio, they are using Opus with ambisonic compression.
  • “Ghost in the Shell VR – A deep Dive” with Sol Rogers from Rewind.
    He delivered a great talk about how he and his team made Ghost in the Shell. He gave no numbers and ask very nicely not to take a photo!

    That’s all I got from Ghost in the Shell
  • “The Importance of touch: Mid-air haptic feedback for VR & AR” with Tom Carter from Ultrahaptics.
    How cool is that, conducting emotions through mid air haptic feedback? Because, at the end, it is the sense of touch that makes things real.
  • Perception = Reality: Exploiting Perceptual Illusions for Design of Compelling AR & VR Interfaces” with Hrvoje Benko from Microsoft Research. Don’t try to be perfect. Use tricks and perception illusion.

Using perception illusion to extend the experience; Passive haptic; Perspective Projection Mapping;  The rubber hand effect revisited as Haptic Retargetting; Body warping and world warping are very promising technic that make you  believe you interacting with objects and that gives you this haptic feedback.

  • “Virtual Futures Track: The Ethics of VR Risks and Recommendations” with Michael Madar from University of Mainz
    • Why should we care?  Our environment influence our behaviour.
    • VR brings the illusions of place, embodiment and agency.
    • Beneficial vs manipulative in VR, tricky balance to make.
    • Are we going to create a rating system for VR experience?
    • “Users should be made aware that there is evidence that experience in VR can have a lasting influence on behaviour after leaving the virtual environment.”
    • Users should also be made aware that we do not yet know the effects of long-term immersion.”

On Thursday, I went to only one talk from the lovely blue hair Mary Kassin from Google who explained her day-to-day process. She prototypes a lot. Trial, user feedback and iteration make the most of her time. She also mentioned the Tango ready phone to play with AR.

Alright, this is all very exciting, full of ideas, however, what made the biggest impression on me was the couple of VR visualisation agencies showing off their architectural Immersive and Interactive walk-through made with Unreal engine.  With this very realistic real-time rendering, we are getting closer to eliminate the long hours of rendering time for still images for a full immersive experience in the early stage of the process.  That is happening right now!

Gobsmacking VR/AR Event

Smoothly organized event, with drinks and nibbles, Vitamin Clinic was exploring our evolving relationship between our physical and virtual/digital world.

Tilt Brush
 Artwork, 3D printing, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality installations and devices were available to challenge the way we perceive and interact with our environment and the digital realm. Here are just a few of the company demonstrating their expertise:
  • Drawandcode was presenting a maze game using a mixed of AR and VR to make a very social interaction.
  • Virtualumbrella offered the best experience of the event with the HTC Vive and Tilt Brush.
  • Phygital is a pretty exciting company showing different setup for VR and AR: VR chair for the roler coaster experience using Oculus Rift, a huge touch screen showing many of their different interactive installations.

 Recall of my first experience with the HTC Vive:

During the evening, I had the opportunity to try the HTC Vive with different applications. Upstairs was a relax setting in a corner of the room. A laptop on a coffee table, a couple of chaps sitting in a sofa as spectators, two cameras on their tripot opposite to each other four meters apart.

I placed the headset over my eyes and got the two controllers in my hands. Suddenly, I find myself with a sword in my right hand. Really, moving the sword in the air, to the right, to the left. Then, I took a couple of step forward and started to cut those fruits falling from no where into pieces, not the bombs! Fun!

The second experience with the same settings, transported me on a roof in a futuristic city under drone attack. With a shield in my left hand to protect myself from the drones’ strikes, I was able to choose between different energy field to shoot at them with the gun in my right hand.

Using whole body to move around to avoid being hit and shooting at the same time in all directions, this was full on. A very immersive experience even though, that is not why I am excited by Virtual Reality.

The best experience of the evening with the HTC Vive was the Tilt Brush one. This happened downstairs with more space dedicated between the two cameras. Again, headset on, controllers in the hands, although this time I got in a very different environment: a dark neutral background and a define round surface to walk on.  My left arm was equipped with a bulky futuristic device from which I was able to choose between different colors, tools like paintbrushes and sizes. The brush I choose extended my right hand. I  started by drawing  three feet, then a table top, filled it in. I had to turn around the table to make the fourth feet.  Then I painted leaves on the table, stacked some more, tried another tool and started to sculpt over very bright and colorful shapes of all type. Liberating! No more restriction of the page or the screen. I was creating something with no constraints. It can be small in front of you in the air or on a stand, or it can be big all around you.

The only thing that reminded me the physical world was the bunch of cable hanging from my head to the powerful computer running the software. Otherwise, that was the most immersive and mind blowing VR experience so far. By creating my own environment in real-time, the feeling of freedom and creativity got me in a flow in a snap.

Even from the outside, looking at someone exercising his creativity using the Tilt Brush is fascinating. You can see the person moving around, doing big arm movements, then on the screen appears the painting-sculpture.

I am looking forward to try this again soon.