Category Archives: Virtual Reality

The HTC Vive in a smaller space

Granted, there are plenty of videos showing how the Vive works in large, open environments but few of them deal with the real-world scenarios faced by many when it comes to introducing virtual reality to their living rooms. Much like how the Nintendo Wii needed a similar amount of space in order to allow the user to swing their arms around as they participated in sword fights, golf and bowling, the Vive needs even more to do it justice. Having said that, it seems to work incredibly well, even in something of a cramped space. I don’t doubt that, as the prevalence of VR continues to grow, we may undergo a radical culture shift involving […]

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HTC Vive Commercial Release – First Impressions

Shortly after receiving our HTC Vive, I rushed to set everything up in a bid to sample the delights of the virtual reality applications available through Steam. For those of you unfamiliar with Steam, it’s an online content distribution service, initially set up for gaming but has since diversified its offerings in a bid to reach out to wider audiences. We’re hoping to improve the student experience by creating engaging visual content for use in our concept classrooms and the promise of virtual reality in this area is quite something. Unboxing the headset and its accompanying assortment of wires made me wonder how portable a solution the Vive could be. Much of what we do […]

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Mixed Reality with the Oculus DK2

The irony of virtual reality is that, despite being a visual medium, it remains incredibly difficult to convey in a faithful manner. It’s not just about the visual impact of an experience but also the immersion factor. I made a post a few months ago in which I filmed myself using the Oculus Rift at a desk. In that video, I cross-faded the perspectives of a bystander and user in an attempt to communicate how people can interact with a 3D environment using a headset. Virtual Reality represents something of a growth industry right now but it will take time to convince people of its promise as a means for channelling emotional bandwidth. In the […]

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What do artificial intelligence, virtual reality and gene editing have in common?

I’m something of a transhumanist and in possession of a woefully optimistic view of where technology can take the human race in the next hundred years. A lot has happened in recent times, we have a surge in the public interest of VR, new genetic therapies which are starting to offer treatments for everything from HIV to cancer and the early stages of artificial neural networks which hold the potential to both dwarf and augment our collective intelligence. Advances in these mediums have been made possible thanks to hardware improvements in GPUs (simple graphics cards). Thanks to their efficiency and number crunching abilities, they’re able to do more than simply create breathtaking visuals. NVidia are […]

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The Logistics of Virtual Reality and Thunderbolt 3

The end game for many technologies involves integrating seamlessly with our being, turning us into space-dwelling cyborgs. The problem is that while the process of miniaturization is always in motion, there will always be a suite of technologies on the fringe which have yet to undergo such optimization and start out in something of a clunky state. Virtual Reality headsets are such things, they are new, large and cumbersome. While the phone-based experiences made popular by the Gear VR hold promise (in that it is a lightweight solution without wires) it remains expensive. Upgrading to a new phone is also problematic. When all one needs is a faster GPU, the only option is to purchase […]

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The Weston Auditorium at the University of Hertfordshire in Virtual Reality

Much has changed these last few years in the gaming industry. Until recently, real-time/interactive 3D has had something of a stigma associated with it when it came to education. Happily, in the spirit of inquiry, research has continued to verify its potency for creating memorable and engaging experiences. Click here to view the search trend data on Google We’ve been in possession of an Oculus Rift (development kit 2) for a while now and it’s provided us with some exciting opportunities to do with Learning & Teaching Innovation. We’re currently working with Psychology staff to create virtual environments for use in research and have been awarded funding to pursue some other ideas with measurable outcomes. […]

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Getting serious with virtual and augmented reality at the VRTGO conference

Last week I attended the VRTGO conference in Newcastle, a day of talks from various industry representatives describing how they were using Virtual and Augmented Reality in their businesses. Happily, not all of it was gaming-related, something which has been difficult to exclude from these events as, understandably, the gaming sector is what is driving the VR agenda at this time. Having said that, one of the representatives from Crossrail (a London-based project to link various underground railway networks) was able to answer my question of whether there was still any stigma surrounding the term ‘gaming technology’, responding that most people with any interest in the medium already had prior exposure to gaming and that, […]

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3D Land Law

It’s often difficult to visualise something in a medium as text heavy as law, though an opportunity for creativity made itself available recently. A colleague approached me with a view to enhancing a sketch he had made with a 3D representation. It’s now being used to assist in conveying the principles of land law. Due to some time constraints, there were limits to what we wanted to achieve with this though I decided the best use of our time would be to work with Google Sketchup. The end result is what you see in the video below. The idea is that students are able to navigate the scene by downloading the Sketchup viewer and pressing […]

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Oculus Rift – Development Kit 2

I’ve recently been loaned an Oculus Rift with a view to creating a few technical demonstrations of what the head mounted display is capable of. This will go some way to allowing me to obtain closure on my workflow as I’ve been at odds for some time with regards to which devices I ought to spend my time developing for. The primary annoyance is that though my authoring environment of choice, Unity, exports to multiple platforms, compatibility problems still exist. The libraries I use for windows executables might not work as well on Android and with the death of the unity browser-based plugin, I am now limited to HTML5/WebGL in that particular medium. Windows 10 […]

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Unity 3D realistic terrain data

In my quest to model a believable glacial environment, I’ve resorted to using real-world terrain data. It used to be that I would sculpt terrain by hand and rely on perlin noise generators to produce something from which I could use as a base. The video below shows some of the things I’ve been working on and offers a bit more of an explanation. The difficulty comes with having to make the scene explorable form a first person perspective. By and large, terrain data doesn’t allow for high enough detail to make this achievable. There is still a lot of work to be done by way of manually adding erosion and creating some textures for […]

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