Notes from 3Dcamp, Jan 2017

I was out at an event in Dublin on Jan 26th on 3d, Virtual reality and augmented reality covering not just technical discussions, but also human interaction topics, psychology. The organisers are  Gleb Lebedev, Nikki Lannen, James Corbett - full credit for putting together an amazing selection of demos on the night!

Below is the post, and if anyone wants a pdf version instead, see here.

3Dcamp Dublin report

26th Jan 2017

someone just out for a cycle....

someone just out for a cycle....

Overview

-               Attendance at event hosted by 3Dcamp Dublin

-               Organisers are  Gleb Lebedev, Nikki Lannen, James Corbett

-               The events normally include some presentations by companies, however focus of this event was purely on demos, demos and more demos.

-               A discussion group also in operation, hosted by VR Community Ireland – discussing everything and anything to do with VR, AR, 3D, storytelling, psychology, design, limitations, etc.

-               Annual conference/expo on 11th May in Dublin on 3D, VR, AR. www.innovatereality.com

A full list of the demos on the night can be found on the original event page here, including company names.

 

 

Discussion topics on the day

There was a very interesting discussion group hosted by VR Community Ireland. Kicking off on the topic of VR/AR experiences, it digressed into very interesting topical discussions around story-telling in a VR world, the challenges of a lack of feeling (very interesting comments from a sculptor!) and psychology impacts. There is significant work to be done still in the realm of story-telling (when an individual can look anywhere, how to you make sure they stay focused on the story?), and also the challenges of impact to individuals of being immersed in a virtual world. I can see more work is required here to really make the next step.

The key piece was that none of the technical challenges seemed insurmountable – higher resolution screens, better motion tracking – which made for some insights. We are definitely near a tipping point from that perspective, however there is still quite a bit of work to understand the medium. With AR, the demos are all impressive, but there is no ‘killer app’ just yet.

 

 

Demos (I tried)

Irish Defence Forces

http://www.niallc.ie/

Overview

Two hugely impressive demos that were funded by the Irish Defence Forces. Originally built as demos to show to potential applicants of the ‘excitement of military service, they have come to the realisation that the quality of the experience is there to potentially surpass multi-million Euro military simulators currently on sale.

The demos:

1      A ‘gunner’ in an armoured personnel carrier. The creator, Niall Campion, took a 3D video of a country road in the hills south of Wicklow, created a photo-realistic version of the interior of an armoured car, and then merged the two together. This also means that the video screens inside the ‘virtual’ armoured car also show exactly what you see ‘outside’ the vehicle. As it is based on a HTC Vive, it means the ability is there to stand up in the ‘turret’ and then sit back down inside. Adding to this, they then added in a simulated attack where you have to take control of a weapon and return fire. Limitations were the controls for interacting with anything were through an Xbox controller so limited tactile feel – I just wanted to reach out and push buttons!

2      Simulating the rescue of an injured person in the mountains, you are one of the rescuers based on the helicopter as it flies over (photo-realistic) hills searching for the injured party. Once found, you then ‘step off’ the helicopter using the winch (vertigo inducing for some), lower down, walk (the Vive allows this capability) to the person, ‘grab’ him with a controller and then lift him back into the helicopter.

Further use cases

Huge potential here for a lot of cases. Simulation of anything from driving to sailing to climbing. An inherent limitation at present is the interaction method through your hands, and there is no interaction of legs/feet yet. HUGE potential.

 

 

V-Stream Digital Media

Andres Pitt, http://www.vstream.ie/

Overview

V-Stream brought multiple demos from a Samsung Gear VR, to a pre-production Epson BT300 AR headset, to a Hololens.

1      The Epson was running two demos.

a.    Instructional manual for building a Lego item. The ‘screen’ in front showed each step was you went, explaining the procedure/steps to follow and in what order.

b.    Live sports demo. Used at a stadium in the USA. When looking forward, it showed a live Twitter feed of the game you were watching. If you looked slightly up, it showed a list of all players on your sides team, with ‘real-time stats’ on each player. Look down and it showed you a live video feed from a tv channel showing the event.

2      Hololens was just (!) showing a standard demo of objects placed into the physical world. With multiple objects, the ability was there to re-size, move around, etc.

 

Further use cases

The Epson would appear to have, and is already being used, in various cases such as hospitals for doctors to quickly access patient data or in industrial cases (have an instruction manual always in field of view when completing a task). The Hololens would appear to have significant potential but in early days. The device is still quite large, and quality of the objects is still limited by the amount of computing power stored in the headset. All very easily resolved issues for technology! As for use cases, multiple virtual monitors (such as in an Network Operations centre), architecture reviews, games chasing virtual objects around a physical space, or even displaying waypoints while walking in the real physical world.

 

 

3D Design Bureau, Nicholas Polley

http://www.3ddesignbureau.com/

Overview

A demo with a Gear VR headset, it was to show what a new interior in sports gym in Dublin will be like (photo at top of this post). Sitting on an indoor bike trainer, you simulated being in a room surrounded by other bikes and a giant screen showing a rolling road – this is the new bike-spinnng class format.

Another demo of a interior design project. Tere is one ‘master’ VR headset and then multiple ‘slave’ headsets. The ‘master’ controls the image so users can be swapped back and forth between what the interior of a building looks like before the change, and then a virtual-created version of the same interior with new design language.

 

 

 

 

Sneaky Bear

http://www.sneakybearsvr.com/, War Ducks Ltd.

Overview

Hard not to love this game, and one of the more endearing examples of what can be done with a basic Google Cardboard, Gear VR, or Daydream headset. In essence, teddy bears swarm towards you and you have to ‘shoot’ them. What could go wrong?! Very creative :) Very, very amusing.

Further use cases

This is an ideal demo, ice-breaker, and for anyone who has never used a VR headset beforehand. Interactive, in that you have to turn around and thus getting an idea of the capabilities of VR, but not overly complicated. Additionally, as you are only rotation in one plane, and not having to deal with forward motion (which can cause nausea for some, in particular at beginning), means no-one should be turned off.

 

 

Glossary of Tech equipment

Virtual Reality

VR involves being completely immersed in a virtual world through putting on a headset that has full motion tracking.  At its most basic, imagine you are watching a movie, however instead of just the screen in front of you, the screen ‘surrounds’ you in every direction. Currently, there is significant experimentation ongoing to understand what works and what doesn’t due to the extra complexity of having a full sphere of vision to work with. Non-trivial problems!

 

Google Cardboard, Google Daydream, Samsung Gear VR, various other VR headsets.

Most simply, it can be done with a modern high-end smartphone and a headset (looks almost like skiing/snowboarding googles with the phone in front of your eyes). Note that these devices only track what you do with the movement of your head, either looking up/down or twisting left/right. However, limited to this – they are not capable (at present) of seeing whether you sit up or down, or move around a space. They also do not cover what you do with your limbs so there is a feeling of detachment at times as unable to interact with anything in the environment.

Oculus/Facebook Rift, HTC Vive

High-end models such as the Rift or Vive are a step up in quality from previous versions due to being custom built to operate as Virtual Reality headsets (whereas previous devices are only doing this as a secondary job to being a smartphone).. They also support positional tracking to a limited degree at present. The same capabilities as before, but also able to track the movement of your hands due to hand-held controllers providing motion/movement. There is some limited movement allowed through walking around within a limited physical space also. While there is basic hand-tracking (i.e. the controller is tracked, not your actual hand) it does not give any ‘feeling’ which can take away from experience also.

Both the Vive and Rift are generation-one production models, and already hugely impressive technically. Obvious improvements to come are:

-               the resolution of the screens (due to the screen being so close to your eyes, even a modern ‘HD’ screen looks slightly blurry – it will require 8K screens to fully resolve).

-               Improvements to controllers to improve the interaction experience

-               At present, both devices require a high-powered computer to operate. Officially this means that they then require you to be cabled to the computer (and thus a risk of tripping on a cable dragging on the floor. Unofficially, there is already an add-on for the Vive allowing a cable-less experience. Expect the next generation to most likely be cable-free.

 

Augmented Reality

Epson Moverio BT200 and Moverio BT300

Being released in April 2017, these are similar in spirit to the Google Glasses of 2013 (visionary from Google at the time)., looking very similar to ‘normal glasses however they project a screen in front of your eyes. The Epson devices take a slightly different approach to Google in that the computer processing piece is a small unit that is carried on the person in a pocket (with a connecting cable to the glasses….).

Key item with these glasses is that the screen is always in the same place, and is most comparable to just having a computer screen floating in front of you in space, it does not hold position in the room unlike….

 

Microsoft Hololens

Microsoft floored everyone with their Hololens when released in 2016. At presently, only on sale as a developer kit, it ‘augments’ the world by placing virtual objects into the real physical world. The most impressive piece is that the Hololens also has sensors facing outwards and uses these sensors to scan of the room, and then use that knowledge to keep objects in positions. That means that you can have, for example, a 3D creation of a building/person/object in front of you – but that you can walk around the object, look underneath it, etc. Hugely impressive technology, and also worth noting that the Hololens is cable-free with all the computing hardware built into the frame of the glasses.

The disadvantages?

- limited viewing angle right now

- $3,000(!). And versions that go on sale in early 2017 will be significantly cheaper....because they require a wire to a computer to run them. Kind of defeating the purpose then.

Neal McQuaid