Vivid welcomes Virtual Reality
Here at Vivid towers we recently had a very welcome visitor. One of the Vivid team brought in their newly purchased HTC Vive Virtual Reality (VR) headset. I should mention that other headsets are available (Oculus Rift/the Playstation VR amongst many others) but from VR reviews this seems to be best option currently on the market. The Virtual Reality headset was brought in to make use of Vivid’s studio space that we have available.
We thought it would be worthwhile to discuss our experience with VR and also the implications for the future. Don’t worry, we will try and keep it light.
Being big gamers (especially the current author), we could not wait to try out the new system. We can all remember back to the last big VR “race” in the mid 90’s. Technology was always going to hamper that but now, in 2016, this is no longer a problem.
One of the main selling points of the HTC Vive is the ‘room scale’ tracking capability of the system. The user is able to freely move around in an area of up to 5m x 5m, so we thought it would be good to make use of our studio space to try it out. Our problem was freeing up the studio, as “our Graham”™ was conducting a photo shoot. We waited for what seemed like eternity, but after 3 hours the studio was free. We set up the equipment, only to find the hand controllers needed charging. An oversight to say the least.
Everything was set up and now was the moment of truth. I slipped on the headset and this new frontier of entertainment came into view. The first thing that struck me was the head tracking on the VR headset. It was flawless, and no matter how quickly I turned, the display matched it perfectly. This flawless 1 to 1 movement carried over to the handheld Vive controllers. I could even see a perfect digital representation of the controllers in the headset, that visually moved perfectly with my actual hand movements. Very impressive.
We played a wide variety of short experiences which included being on a rock face, clearing a cave in space and defending a castle with a bow and arrow. Yes this all sounds very strange but they were really fun experiences that worked perfectly. We played a cartoon zombie shooting game and again the controllers replicated holding a gun perfectly. The very accurate connection meant that you could aim as if you were aiming a real gun and within seconds you’d forgotten you were blindly stumbling around a studio looking foolish and were instead immersed in an alternate place and time.
We all had a go, but we think that “our Graham”™ provided the most laughs navigating this new VR world. Please check out the short video below to get a taste of his VR experience.
All this interactivity got the Vivid team thinking about the possibilities of Virtual Reality. Of course gaming is an obvious application, but we think that there are so many non-gaming applications to VR that are far more interesting.
Now this is quite an obvious statement, but video chat is going to be huge in VR. We have already accepted video chat into our lives. For some time many people, young and old, use it in place of the telephone. PC based VR headsets already work with regular video chat software.
To take that simple concept further, imagine a situation where you take a 360º camera and place it somewhere in a meeting room. This 3D camera would provide a simple way for the remote VR user, to enter the room and feel present with the people physically in the room. To enhance this, you could model the VR user’s room layout to provide an accurate representation of the meeting environment.
This has obvious business led applications but equally (cost permitting) VR could allow friends or teachers and students to meet together from all around the world while occupying the same 3D environment. Another way to achieve this ‘being in the same place’ effect is using 3D environments that multiple VR users meet inside, with each user seeing computer generated avatars representing their friends’/colleagues’ real world movements around the shared 3D space.
Virtual Reality Journeys/Tourism
Ever wanted to fly in a fighter jet into the stratosphere? Easy, record a 360° movie in the jet’s cockpit, load it up and let people access it. You could do boat trips through the Amazon one night, walk to Machu Picchu the next. Famous landmarks could easily place one of these 360° cameras at their location. If they so choose, they could charge an ‘entrance fee’ and viewers could observe all the sights and sounds in real time. You could quickly go anywhere in the world to check out today’s sunset from your favourite holiday/travel destination. The world could easily open up to everyone. These examples would only be pre-recorded or live video feeds with limited interaction, but complex modelled 3D worlds (and outer worlds) can be produced that mean you could explore the Moon and beyond.
Virtual Reality Relaxation
This is one the most interesting virtual reality applications. You come home after a hard day at work. You slip on your VR headset and you can virtually transport yourself to anywhere in the world. You want to relax on a beach for 30 minutes? Easy, load up the application (Matrix style) and you are there with the waves lapping at your virtual feet. The possibilities are endless.
There are already a variety experiences that allow you to climb mountains, skydive, kayak through rapids. This offering will only develop and expand. Having played a few of the more active games, it is clear to see the implications for the exercise industry. The only downside is perspiration on your VR headset.
Listening to music could have a whole different meaning. You might find this weird talking about the audio aspect in a visual environment, but wait one second. It could be something as simple as using a 360° camera at a concert and having a seat either at a live gig or one that has been pre-recorded. This is also scalable, it does not have to be the biggest bands in the world, it could be the local pub gig. Listening in a more “traditional” sense means you could load up Led Zeppelin and immerse yourself in videos, images of the band and concerts. Create a virtual juke box and accompany the music with pictures and videos of family and friends.
Virtual Reality Websites
Just imagine the possibilities in website creation. Instead of looking at a flat image on a monitor, you could enter a 3D world where you explore the the website. From a commercial aspect you could move around a 3D environment exploring a company’s message in a fun, informative and interactive manner. This could mean virtually picking up a product and viewing it in your hands, even conducting a virtual demonstration.
Virtual Reality – An exciting future
In summary, virtual reality was an experience that Vivid will not forget and are sure to return to soon. There are so many possibilities out there for Virtual Reality and we are excited for the next evolution of how we react with the technology, each other and the world.