Tag Archives: VR

VR for the mass market with Google Daydream?

The next move in the VR world is the Google Daydream initiative. It sounds more like a big marketing push to take advantage of Google Cardboard success though. Nothing is really new in that product. The neat fabric covered headset comes with a remote that nicely fits inside. Take the remote out, place your phone instead and there you  go in VR. As we can all do already with any cheaper cardboard like version. So what is the big deal?
Daydream Home
Daydream Home
Well, it is about the experience, the user experience (UX). A comfortable headset, a powerful phone and a VR app interface will allow you to navigate between your different apps without the need to take the headset off. They want to keep you inside for longer. Sounds good to me.
However, the first question that comes in mind is what phones are Daydream-compatible? Obviously, the recently released Google Pixel phone is. How clever, right? But what qualifies a phone to be Daydream-ready or compatible? This is not so clear yet and it gets too technical anyway. (check this article if you want to know a bit more). My LG G5 with his LCD screen will probably not make it because of the too high persistence. Only the low-persistence of a Full HD OLED display allows to reduce motion blur enough to make the VR experience long lasting (explanation on low-persistence here).
Anyway, it is good to propose a better VR UX at that affordable scale. Clearly the “future proche” of VR is within the mobile market. Now, do we have the content to keep people inside for longer? And do we have the platform to develop more content? Perhaps we do with the WebVR. I will dig that up in a future post.

The VR Vlog

Check Nathie’s vlog. His enthusiasm for VR is contagious. If you want to know where we stand in the VR sphere, just watch a couple of his last video and you will be up to date of what are the latest trends.

His take on VR headset in a nutshell are that the Rift without controls is not so fun; the HTC Vive has played a big role for the last couple of month;  now, let’s what the Playstation VR has to offer.`

Now from the a Vlog point of view, this kid is definitely working hard on his vlog. He is making things happening all by himself, investing in materials, props and time to make a quality vlog.

Check him out.

Have you heard of StarVR?

In the world of high quality immersive VR experiences, so much is about the big names! With Oculus Rift starting the trend a few month ago, HTC Vive bringing the level up an inch (or two) with  touch controllers and room scale option and finally Sony just releasing his Playstation VR, the market is now open. For that matter, there are a few other smaller companies finding their niche working on some pretty exciting projects. Let’s have a look at one of them in today’s post.

Project StarVR, for instance, making their first go at VR in June 2011, game company Starbreeze is in a strong position to deliver high quality VR experience on the Steam platform, but not only that.

Image result for star VR tech

Their specificity is to offer a wider field of view called Natural Panoramic. “At 210 degree the immersion is total” is their selling point. Coming end of the year with a 5K resolution, I am so  curious to try that one on! However, it seems that we will only try those headsets by going to the cinema or to special events. Not really a home based experience.

In the meantime, I will keep exploring!

 

Is Augmented Reality the next design tool?

What role Augmented Reality (AR) will be playing in the architecture practice and the design of our built environment? How will companies use this technology to attract more consumers? Lets look at those two very different ways to use the power of AR:  as a design tool and as a consumerism device.

Looks like Microsoft is taking the first route with the Hololens. With a variety of polished video presentations, they are showing the Hololens as this amazing new tool to help design interiors, buildings or even a whole new world. It even let you communicate in real time with your teammates from another continent. As an architect, Greg Lynn seems enthusiastic after having use the HoloLens at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 (interview from Dezeen here).   For interior designer lacking of vision, this video shows the potential. And to be be really blown away and transported in the future, check out this TED talk from the visionary Alex Kipman.

Of course, I can’t agree more with him on the fact that all those 2D interfaces, displays and screens that have invades our life are born obsolete. We are moving creatures always exploring around us, using our whole body with all our senses to interact with our environment. We are not supposed to be locked behind a screen all day. But, I am digressing onto my research topic here. Even though this is very exciting topic,  we still don’t really know how we are actually interacting with those virtual objects embedded in our physical surroundings. I will look into VR and user experience in another post.

In the meantime, looking at the other side of the coin, the consumerism version of AR, perhaps Keiichi Matsuda vision with his “Hyper-Reality” production is closer to what will happen sooner than later.

HYPER-REALITY from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

If VR is not the answer, AR is not neither. What I am really looking forward to is when those two technologies will merged into a Mixed Reality (MR) integrated into some sort of contact lenses.

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.