This is 2016, and seems this is the year for VR. Of course, we at the AppsLab can’t miss the beat!
While Osvaldo (@vaini11a) started to look into Unity based VR capability and prototype, I wanted to take a look into the WebVR based approach. The prospect of delivering VR experience in a browser, and over the web, suddenly makes VR so much more accessible – WebVR can be designed in a way to work with or without a VR headset. In a sense it is an extension of responsive web, to adjust to different renderers/viewers gracefully.
The first thing came to my mind was to VR-enable some of our visualization demos, and I picked John’s Transforming Table for the first try. After a series of hacks, I got a half-baked, and non-functional result; if we had the Oculus Rift, we could get it working. A-Frame is at a very early stage, and there is still a lot to be desired.
I realized I needed a perspective change – instead of fitting the existing presentation and behavior into VR, WebVR/A-Frame is better suited to create a new presentation and behavior that blends with VR naturally.
Jake (@jkuramot) and Noel (@noelportugal) had just come back from a trip to Sydney, and told us a story about someone following our team and reading our posts, from far far away – the other side of planet 🙂
And wouldn’t it be nice if they could see our Gadget Lab too?
So after a couple of days, here is it – our gadget lab in VR.
You may step in Gadget lab, and step out to Oracle campus. While you are in the virtual Gadget Lab, you can see several stations I have labelled to show some human-machine interfaces we are investigating.
I don’t have fancy stereoscopic 360 camera rig, so I just used an old Android phone to produce the scene of Oracle campus and Gadget lab interior. The phone is a little bit under-powered, so you may see some blanked-out areas because the phone would reboot when I tried to create the entire scene.
Let me know what you think in comments.
Editors’ update: To experience this virtual tour of our Gadget Lab, simply navigate to http://theappslab.com/vr/appslab in any browser. Even if you don’t have a VR headset, you can get a feel for the space and see a little bit about the demos.
In a desktop browser, you can use your mouse to look around the room. On a mobile browser, you can tilt your device to pan around the lab, and if you want the full VR experience, tap the glasses icon in the lower right-hand corner, and pop your phone into a compatible viewer, e.g. Google Cardboard.
The future is now.