Category Archives: VR

VR/AR: Mixed-reality lessons for schools

Check out how the Peer concept aims to make abstract concepts tangible for kids:

Fast Company writes,

A lesson in aerodynamics, for instance, would start when students strap on a VR headset, like Google Cardboard or Daydream. Their teacher could then demonstrate how aerodynamics works in mixed reality before the kids remove their headsets and get to work designing windmill arms, working with their hands to create something they think will generate the most wind speed. Then, on goes the headset again. As students begin testing their windmills with a fan, embedded sensors in the windmill spindle record rotational speed, and the headset shows the students the speed of their mills.

Moment’s John Payne says,

“VR is often simply reduced to a storytelling medium, but we believed it could be used in a more integrated way with the real-world environment, more as a ‘tool’ than as an ‘experience.'”

It’s undoubtedly cool, and I’d love to see how students and teachers can put it to use. And beyond that, I’d love to see the tools that’d make it possible for thousands of other lessons (needed to fit a wide range of curricula) to be made in an economically sustainable way.

I’d characterize my outlook at guardedly optimistic. I’m reminded me of when CD-ROM based magazines arrived, and then when tablet-based magazines repeated the whole fantasy of “Now everyone will build/pay for rich, interactive 3D content!” They even debuted with a 3D windmill, for God’s sake. Of course the world moved differently, voting with its feet more for Snapchat stories (crude assemblies of unedited clips, shat out even by well funded orgs like the NYT) than for highly polished, immersive creations.

And yet hope dies last, and all of us toolmakers have the privilege of trying to rebalance the scales. If it weren’t hard, it probably wouldn’t be fun. 🙂

The new VR filmmaking tools that enabled “Rogue One”

iPad + strapped-on Vive controller = realtime shot-composing! Check out these interesting homebrew tools:

Kottke writes,

In this video, we see a couple more tools the team used to facilitate the making of the film. The first is a VR video game of sorts that ILM built so that Edwards could move a virtual camera around in a virtual set to find just the right camera angles to capture the action, resulting in a process that was more flexible than traditional storyboarding.

The second tool jumped around a virtual set — a complete digital model of Jedha City — and rendered hundreds of street views from it at random. Then the filmmakers would look through the scenes for interesting shots and found scenes that looked more “natural” than something a digital effects artist might have come up with on purpose — basically massively parallel location scouting.

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VR: Google’s new tech provides windows to the (uncanny?) soul

This is bonkers: By having your face 3D scanned, you can now have it show through a VR headset (complete with moving, blinking eyes!), like this:

The Daydream VR team explains,

The first step to removing the VR headset is to construct a dynamic 3D model of the person’s face, capturing facial variations as they blink or look in different directions. This model allows us to mimic where the person is looking, even though it’s hidden under the headset.

Next, we use an HTC Vive, modified by SMI to include eye-tracking, to capture the person’s eye-gaze from inside the headset. From there, we create the illusion of the person’s face by aligning and blending the 3D face model with a camera’s video stream. A translucent “scuba mask” look helps avoid an “uncanny valley” effect.

For a really funny tour, check out the Try Guys’ adventures in VR:

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VR: How Hyundai brought soldiers’ families together at the Super Bowl

It’s easy to pooh-pooh VR (believe me, I’ve bagged on plenty of examples), but this bit of immersive telepresence is pretty special: 

Forbes explains,

Using satellite technology, 360-degree immersive pods and the filmmaking direction of Peter Berg, Hyundai… showed the soldiers experiencing a kind of virtual reality: that they were in Houston watching the Big Game live in a suite on site. But the shocker at the end and shown live just after the game was when it was revealed that—in a twist on the classic soldier-surprises-family—their loved ones were in the suite to surprise them.

Footage from Houston and Poland was edited and produced in a production trailer outside the stadium during the game.

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Amazing VR drawing work from Tilt Brush Artists in Residence

I see stuff like this & think, “It’s pretty clear I’m wasting my life.” How am I not working directly to help artists create next-gen radness? Check out what a diverse set of creators, from graffiti artists to New Yorker stalwart Roz Chast, can do in 3D space:

Google has been working closely with more than 60 artists to help them explore their style in virtual reality as part of the Tilt Brush Artist in Residence program (AiR). Coming from a wide range of disciplines, these graffiti artists, painters, illustrators, graphic designers, dancers, concept artists, creative technologists and cartoonists have all brought their passion and talent to create some amazing art with Tilt Brush.

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Danica McKellar & students do math in VR

 These are wonder years indeed. The Mathematician Formerly Known As Winnie Cooper demonstrates writing equations in virtual reality space:

That’s novel, but is it useful? Apparently so: Using the collaborative mode Tilt Brush, student John Sterling McGregor is learning calculus with others using Tilt Brush in VR with the HTC Vive. Here’s an example:

So, what does all this mean? Will it be useful & transformative, or is it just Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy? I’m eager to see.

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