Mixed Reality Video

So while my aging Sony TD10E still looks fab in a virtual 3d screen in VR I have been looking for something that sits better within the expanse of VR both for personal and with impending Virtual Reality project work..

The Hoot camera was indeed a Hoot (sic) but a little too low resolution wise and the promising LucidCam hasn’t proved to be reliable enough.

And so the other day I noticed that last years’ Gear 360 was down to around £80 and I got to wondering if I could jury rig a stereoscopic 180 camera from a pair?  I already knew that it was possible to run the Gear 360 in 180 mode (using only one of it’s lenses) and so this morning I got the hacksaw out and put together a basic test rig.  This essentially consists of a flash mounting on top of a shooting stick with the two gear 360’s mounted using their standard mounting pins.  Not especially elegant but should be fit for purpose!

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Video resolution should be a respectable  2560×1440 pixel resolution at 30fps for each eye. and although they will not be linked based on previous experience video synchronisation shouldn’t be too much of a problem.  Of course I will need to settle on a suitable 180 video format (perhaps the LucidCam that provides compatibility with the Gear VR might be the most suited?) I will blog again once I have something to show but at the moment this is a bit of a side project to other more pressing VR developments.

I finished off by mounting on an old monopod stand that I had lying around that will hopefully provide a little stability for my test video.

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The Holographic Catch 22 ….

Having had my hands on a Mixed Reality Headset for a couple of weeks now I would not be without it.  But, having just been “awed once again” I realise the platforms’ single greatest danger ….  quite simply it’s got an in built “Catch 22” that puts me in mind of the first time I saw the Grand Canyon – quite simply I realised that I had not experienced anything like it before – those distances – that space – and …. I knew I could not do it justice with my words or photographs – I had to tell people just go and see it.

So while I am not suggesting that Mixed Reality is comparable in any shape or form to the Grand Canyon – it is one of those “new experiences” that you really have to see for yourself.  So the catch 22?

1. You have to live with it for a while (to really appreciate it)

2. You have to buy one in order to live with it for a while!

 

So how are the manufacturers going to overcome this?

It’s not going to be easy.

As an example I was just looking at some of the animated holograms that come with the holographic App – they are great fun – this morning I created a Burger that was around 30 feet across, I walked right up to it, started the animation and the bun and contents jumped up and down.  Now when you feel like you are in the room, up close, with a 30 foot jumping burger it is an experience that you will not have experienced before and it really is one that you should experience! ( No the screen captures and videos just don’t do it justice)

Maybe this post and others like it might combine to make you go out and get a mixed reality headset … I hope so.

Developing with 3Glasses Mixed Reality Headset (1)–”VRShow” installation

This Microsoft approved Mixed Reality headset hails from China and differs slightly from the others in also appearing to support a cross platform runtime for VR.

Although I plan on doing development through Visual Studio 10 the 3Glasses web site invites prospective developers to sign up and download an exe titled VRShow (at the time of writing this is still billed as a beta). Installing got me this warning:

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I promptly continued selecting the “run anyway” option.  I then OK’d the user account control message and selected an English install:

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The installation installs in a number of directories as well as creating a VRShowClient directory in the root file system.  It also installs DirectX if it does not already exist.

What is VRShow?

The manual (available here) describes the VRShow client as follows:

“VRSHOW Client is a VR contents management tool, which is released by VRSHOW Technology Limited. VRSHOW users can use it manage your local resources, update the firmware, and also manage your device to get a better VR experience via VRSHOW Client.
VRSHOW aims to create an one-stop service platform for the VR dreamers from all over the world. It provides hardware、technical support、market instructions、distribution channels and capital support to the VR developers. VRSHOW is a service platform created for VR dreamers ‘to SHOW out the best of their own”

It covers the following main options:

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Loading up the client shows the following screen:

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There doesn’t apear to be an English language version of this screen (I suspect this is simply being rendered from the web site) but the options along the right are in Englash and easy to follow:

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In my next post I will cover my initial reactions to testing the headset and running through firmware upghrade etc.

Windows Mixed Reality Headset–3Glasses Blubur S1 (Type 2) £320 (approx)

Just taken delivery of what is the only available mixed reality headset to anyone in the UK wanting to develop for the platform (the units from Acer, HP etc are only available to developers in the USA).

So this post is not much more than an unboxing but I will follow it up with a review of the hardware and initial development on Windows 10 Creators (which is a requirement to support development on this headset).

It was quite quick to arrive with little trouble getting through customs:
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As seems to be common place with all tech from China it arrived very well packaged with the familiar yellow/brown tape:

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I have to say that the quality of the packaging along with the initial feel of the device is of a very high standard and I am looking forward to going for a spin!

The language translation always amuses me – this is billed as “The first ever virtual reality headset with highest resolution”!

Spec wise it looks similar to the other mixed reality headsets that are finding their way onto the market:

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What’s in the box?

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(Click on each of the above photos for more detail)

Stand by for a more in depth review meanwhile the 3Glasses web site can be found here: www.3glasses.com/en/

What is behind my interest in VR?

So it’s no secret that I have been following VR since the earliest prototype devices of the 80s (and if you count stereoscopic imagery- then it dates back to my first viewmaster which I had for Christmas way back when I was 8!).  I have tried most of the current crop of VR and AR headsets from the PSVR all the way up to the HoloLens.  In a previous post I outlined my build PC for the Oculus Rift DK2 – I still have that machine – though with graphics card updated to an RX480 and a PIMAX 4k Headset (the subject of a future post?). 

Before the Internet I would travel around photographic auctions and shows looking for old bits of stereoscopic kit – it was always exciting to unearth and research a new piece that I was unfamiliar with and I picked up some of my favourite pieces in this way..  In the early days of the internet I made contact with a few collectors in the US and when I heard reports that the Nintendo Virtual Boy was being ‘sold off’ in Walmart I reached out to a couple of them and bagged a couple for my collection (one to play with and one to keep MIB!)  I also managed to get most of the game cartridges!

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(I always thought the VB looked a bit like a Triffid Death Machine from “War of the Worlds”)

My favourite devices are probably the oldest – I have a half dozen or so of these dotted around my house – just because I think they look great!  (There was a time when you could pick these up quote cheaply) The classic ‘Taxiphote’ is probably my favourite, though there are many variations of the basic model some of which I am still discovering …

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Sometimes it’s the unexpected gems that I was able to ‘bag’ that give me the most pleasure.  I used to routinely submit  “blind” low bids to photographic auctions and one time noticed that one lot had ‘a collection of stereoscopic glass slides’ as very much a secondary item included with a lot of two Kodak projectors.  I won the lot with my low bid and was astonished when I went to collect and found the most incredible collection of stereoscopic glass slides taken by a Frenchman on his travels across Europe at the turn of the 20th century.  I still haven’t managed to successfully catalogue the whole collection but it remains one of my most prized items!

A Typical stereoscopic image from my collection (the actual resolution is very impressive given these images age!)

 

Not content with viewers I also have quite a collection of stereoscopic cameras – again, my favourites are probably the oldest ones in my collection (in my opinion  ‘design classics’)

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NB people ask me about the first camera top left – yes, it is a stereoscopic camera but also came with an interchangeable lens for 2d use!

Most of the cameras on the second row fold up inside themselves – the ultimate gadgets of their day!

The 3D craze in the fifties produced a treasure trove of cameras and no self respecting gadget lover would be without a Realist or Kodak, (A small selection of 50’s cameras are shown on the bottom right of the picture).

 

And just recently I have spent some time setting up a dedicated (albeit limited by my dwindling finances) VR area in my ‘man cave’ – perhaps the subject of another future blog post?