New York Tech Journal
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NYVR: designing a #VR app and making the VR user comfortable with the experience

Posted on September 18th, 2015

New York Virtual Realtiy

09/17/2015 @ Microsoft,11 Times Square, NY


Martin Schubert talked about his award winning entry in the 2014 3d Jam and Eric Greenbaum talked about making VR pleasant for humans.

After a brief introduction to the technology of the #LeapMotion (two infrared LEDs that produce a black and white image from which one’s hand and finger positions and gestures are determined), Anthony introduced Martin Schubert who created the VR program Weightless (youtube video) using blender, unity, and playmaker. Martin described his process to create the app in 6 steps

  1. Identify the strengths of VR – 3d depth and sense of scale; easy to look around; good spatial awareness; sense of depth in a mid range around 2 meters
  2. Identify the strengths of the Leap Motion – hand motions are natural 3d inputs; display of hands creates body presence; weak in precision pointing (binary inputs); likes fingertip interactions, but there is not haptic feedback -> as a result, moving objects in a weightless environment was more natural that in the presence of gravity (there is mass, but we don’t need to fight against weight)
  3. Create prototype
  4. Create a narrative. Sorting objects in a space station (weightless environment). Have environment set the scene and create user expectations
  5. Repeatable actions. Get objects, sort, repeat
  6. Create a believable space – create points of interest. Set up the user initially (see video). Need to identity what is important. Have as many things as possible react to you

Marin also talked about taking advantage of the widgets in unity. He also said that is it important to have differentiate the foreground from the background and music should be part of the active space and interact with actions

As an aside, Aboard the Looking Glass won first place in the 2014 3D Jam

In the second presentation, Eric Greenbaum talked about considerations when making VR that does not make the user sick.

The key concept is presence so that the user forgets that technology is mediating the experience.

Some considerations are based on hardware: Tracking with low latency and low persistence. 1k by 1k per eye is sufficient resolution. Good optics

But, there are also human physiological considerations:

We are evolutionary primed to avoid experiences that made us nauseous in the past.

  1. Our bodies strive to match signals in the inner ear with what we see.
  2. Give users control of movement
  3. Avoid acceleration and deceleration – Trick is do instantaneous acceleration
  4. Keep things on the level plane
  5. Ground users with fixed objects  a cockpit is one way
  6. Keep horizon steady
  7. Keep objects in a comfortable space – 6 to 10 feet is best
  8. Avoid things that fly at your eyes.
  9. Sound is important
  10. Design environment – People are afraid of small enclosures, high places.
  11. Sense of scale is important
  12. Interaction design. Text is difficult in VR. Guiding light or sound is helpful

Different design considerations for mobile and for desktop


posted in:  Natural User Interface, NYVR, psychology, VR    / leave comments:   No comments yet

Night Café by Mac Cauley: lessons learned in creating a #VR experience

Posted on August 28th, 2015


08/27/2015 @Samsung, 130 Prince Street, NY

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Mac Cauley talked about the inspiration and development of his award winning VR app, Night Café. Night Café is an interactive VR experience based on the paintings of Vincent #vanGogh and specifically his painting #NightCafé.

Mac originally was working on a live action film of a fictional painter inspired by van Gogh. The project evolved into a virtual reality application. He was also inspired by the works of Alexa Meade who paints subjects and photographs them.

Night Café (van Gogh, 1888) was used as his starting point for its expressionistic colors and absorbing perspective. Converting a single point of view into an immersive world required 3-d modeling of subjects and items along with a reimagining of the corner that is not visible in the painting. For these Mac studied the fixture of that period and modeled the individual subjects in three dimensions.

He adhered to certain design rules. These included making each object unique and emphasizing the textures which is one of the distinguishing characteristics of van Gogh’s paintings.

He used many tools to the create objects, object skins, animation, etc.

Some of his main tools were: Maya, Unity, Mudbox, RapidRig.

He also talked about the challenges and dead ends as he developed the application

When animating, he initially used Kinect mocap which he considere cool, but felt that the quality was inadequate. He used keyframing and found the process slow but worth it.

He tried shading using particles, but found they did give sufficient detail and ran too slowly. He ultimately used flat shading with no lighting since he could take colors from the painting and it provided good performance.

He initially designed a complex set of controls to move through the space, but eventually realized that simple controls (such as tap and hold to move forward) using a touch pad worked best.

The VR experience was enhanced by optimizing-texture aliasing, mesh batching, texture/audio compression, reduce particle counts, etc.

He summarized his main lessons learned:

  1. characters are very interesting to see in 3d
  2. particles are awesome
  3. movement is tricky – slow down movement, simplify controls, eliminate acceleration (stay or move only)
  4. Note 4 is powerful enough
  5. Stylized worlds can still be immersive.

posted in:  applications, Art, NYVR, VR    / leave comments:   No comments yet