UX and Sporting Events in VR

I’m not huge fan of sporting events. And I’m even less of a fan of the Olympics. But this year, the Olympics represents an important step forward in the mainstreaming of virtual reality.

A mainstream introduction to sporting events in virtual reality - The 2016 Rio Olympics in VR, brought to you by the CBCAs a Canadian, my national broadcaster is the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Right now, the CBC is proudly broadcasting select Olympic events in VR. And not just any VR – mobile VR. The flagship platform is Gear VR – but the broadcasts also work with Google Cardboard. And on mobile devices, and desktops.

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Storysharing – Beyond Storytelling in VR

Storysharing in VR - photo by Pete GrayA lot has been made of the role of VR in the art of storytelling. Even more has been made of the role of storytelling in the fledgling art of VR. At first, I was fascinated by the idea. But the more I thought about it – the more I read about it – the more I started to wonder how many “interactive” concepts could be added to an idea that is 7/12 “telling”, without the very idea of “storytelling” bursting at the seams. The dead-end implications of “telling” anything to users with the capacity for full interaction weighed on me. So I came up with the term storysharing.

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The ELIZA Effect, VR, and CUIs

“The ELIZA effect, in computer science, is the tendency to unconsciously assume computer behaviors are analogous to human behaviors.” – Wikipedia

An experiment designed to evoke the ELIZA effect with a combination of 3D animation and a conversational user interface (CUI)
A chatterbot with manners and body language – idoru.js at http://idoru.ca

The ELIZA effect is named after a “chatterbot” called ELIZA that was developed between 1964 and 1966 at MIT. A “chatterbot” is a computer program that conducts a conversation.

ELIZA’s creator, Joseph Weizenbaum, said it was a a “parody” of “the responses of a nondirectional psychotherapist in an initial psychiatric interview.” (Weizenbaum 1976, p. 188)

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UX and UI Design in VR

I write a lot about UI (user interfaces) and UX (user experience) in 3D environments and VR in this blog. Today, I saw a wonderful video on the subject. So I’m gonna kick back, embed the video, and let Mike Alger do all the talking.

VR Interface Design Manifesto from Mike Alger on Vimeo.

Sweet!



UX 4 VR!

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3D Cameras vs. 360-degree Cameras

All the rage in the news this week has been the introduction of some high-end “360-degree” cameras for virtual reality. Are these 3D cameras?

A simple 3D camera.
A simple 3D camera.

The elephant in the room is that these “360-degree” cameras do not produce stereoscopic output. Stereoscopy is the bedrock of creating the illusion of three dimensions.

What is “stereoscopy”? From Wikipedia: “Stereoscopy is the production of the illusion of depth in a photograph, movie, or other two-dimensional image by the presentation of a slightly different image to each eye, which adds the first of these cues (stereopsis). The two images are then combined in the brain to give the perception of depth.

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Introducing Idoru.js

idoru.js is an experiment I’m working on with artificial characters in virtual worlds. The idea is that to provide good “user experience” (UX) in a virtual world, a character must have good “stage presence” to stimulate engagement.

The idea is to create a framework for an artificial character that is charming and attentive to the user. This character can then be “dressed up” with any imaginable avatar. It can be given any “job” that anyone cares to script.

A screenshot of the very first prototype of idoru.js - with a rudimentary avatar and chatbot.
First idoru.js experiment.

A good suit and deep knowledge are not enough to make a person engaging in the real world. A person needs body language. A person needs to be attentive to the person they are engaging. They need to make eye contact. They need to interact with a person’s personal space in a thoughtful, polite way.

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The Dawn of Virtual Reality

The dawn of virtual reality.
The Dawn of Virtual Reality

Over the last couple of days, the very first “Oculus Rift” headsets have been arriving on the heads of ordinary consumers. And those who write about such things are going wild. This, they say, is the dawn of virtual reality. As far as a lot of people are concerned, this is the beginning of a whole new medium. And given what I’ve seen about the sweeping psychological implications of “immersive media”, it could be true.

For example, Matthias Mccoy-Thompson of The Medium makes the bold statement:

Today marks the biggest revolution in gaming since Pong took games from the realm of boards into the digital.Continue reading “The Dawn of Virtual Reality”

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Virtual Vertigo

I’ve learned that chatting with my daughters’ friends is a great way to glean insights into what people think about virtual reality. Because they actually do think about virtual reality.

Screenshot of my daughters and I standing atop a waterfall, in our bathing suits, in Minecraft.
My daughters made their own “swimsuit” skins for a pool party in Minecraft. So I made one with a sunburn.

One of my daughter’s friends, who is in grade 6, introduced himself to me yesterday. He was a very polite, well-spoken young man. We got to talking about Minecraft. Pocket edition, Realms, Minecraft summer camps, and I turned the conversation over to virtual reality. Continue reading “Virtual Vertigo”

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