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.

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/

HTC Vive Hands On

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So I was lucky enough to try out the Vive this morning, working my way through several ‘experiences’ and ‘hands on demos’.

First things first.  If you have ever looked at a great watercolour or oil painting and thought ‘wow, that is so lifelike’ then you are not far from the same feelings generated by any good VR Headset.  (you might say ‘close but no cigar’). That said, for me, the Vive has come the closest to providing a ‘real life like’ experience.  The unit I tried was connected to a high end PC – which goes a long way to ensuring this like like experience.  For one thing I didn’t feel like I was ‘looking through a mesh windows’ which is the common experience with the otherwise excellent Oculus Rift (DK2).  However, I ‘felt the wires’ a couple of times which also takes one a little out of the experience (one of the advantages of the completely wireless Gear VR Headset from Samsung).

After putting on the headset and headphones I was given the two paddles which consist of a button device and trigger on the underside.

Demo 1

 

The first demo allowed me to create balloons (colours of my choosing via a spin wheel on the ‘virtual’ button) and launch them off into the surrounding space.  I could hit the balloons with either paddle and their behaviour was very lifelike (I wasn’t able to pop one but maybe that was just because I didn’t have enough time!)

 

 

Demo 2

 

With this demo the paddles became a pallette and brush and I was able to ‘draw in space’ and create what appeared to be solid structures that I could look around and augment from other angles. There were various pens,pencils etc and numerous options to change colours, line thicknesses and textures similar in many ways to those available in a normal 2d style paint package.  The process was very intuitive and I wondered about the possibilities of 3d printing the results (though I am not sure the 3d printers are sophisticated enough to create something that wouldn’t simply fall down in gravity!) 

I’m also not sure what the immediate use of this functionality might be but it proved to be great fun!

 

Demo 3

This was an amazing undersea adventure in which I could walk around the deck of a sunken wreck while viewing the undersea world around me.  This was the demo that for me highlighted a feature of the Vive that I haven’t seen elsewhere as when I walked over to a physical wall in the real world – a virtual wall appeared within the virtual world to stop me going further.  (For this to work in a home environment you would need to set the sensors – the small boxes shown in the first image – around the ceiling/walls of your own home space).  The whale swims majestically towards you and my immediate inclination was to reach out and pat it (Goodness knows what the people watching thought I was doing!)

 

Demo 4

 

This was an interactive demo that required you to pick things up and push various buttons to simulate a typical office environment.  To begin with you are invited to make a cup of coffee which involves picking up a mug, taking it over to the coffee machine behind you, plugging in the coffee machine and selecting your brew!  You then progress to switching on your PC and typing in a simple pin to log in and star work.  Again, a fun demo that suggests the useful potential of simulating real world interactions.

 

 

Update: September 2016 – Microsoft stores in the US are currently offering a 15 minute demo of the HTC Vive – I tried it again and found the demos to be even slicker than those I tried back in March – well worth a trial if you get the chance!