One of my hobbies is photography. So as I begin dabbling in VR, I find myself quite curious about 360 photos. A 360 photo is the “bare minimum” of a VR experience.
What is a 360 photo?
A 360 photo goes by many names, but each describes a photograph that completely surrounds the camera. It shows what is in front – in back – off to the sides – and above and below. ALL of it. You can look all around, and everywhere you look has been captured in the photo.
Lie down under a maple tree, and watch the keys lazily drift down towards you. In your VR goggles, with WebVR!
(This is in an iFrame – to pop it out for your VR goggles, click here)
I’d written a demo using THREE.js some time back, that simulated maple keys falling in the spring. Having secured some VR goggles (Samsung Gear VR with a Galaxy S7), and tried no end of VR experiences, it seemed like I should “port” that demo into an immersive version.
So you’re a web developer, and you’ve been hearing things about VR. I’m also a web developer, and I’ve also been hearing things about VR! And I’ve been blogging about it. Not just VR – but how VR is very likely to soon become both a crisis and an opportunity for web developers. So what are the prospects for VR for web developers?
Today is April 8, 2016. The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive both tried to start shipping in the last couple of weeks – and it’s been a bit of a mess. But even so, eager early adopters have raved up and down that this revolutionary technology finally actually works.
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?
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.”
Given that VR goggles have been available to consumers for DAYS, not even weeks, and given that the only people who have even heard of the Oculus Rift are gamers and sports fans, I think all the pessimism about a “virtual reality web” may be a little bit premature. Or so I’d like to think, anyway.
I saw this article today about a “virtual reality web” – and was amazed at both how forward-thinking, and pessimistic it was.
The opening paragraph paints a pretty elaborate picture of something that’s, well, science fiction:
“What if you could browse the web in virtual reality? Just imagine the potential. Hyperlinks could take you not to Wikipedia pages about history, but right to the landscapes of ancient cultures, immersing you in plagues and art and war. Recipe sites could give you smell-o-vision cooking simulations. Message boards could become face-to-face chats. The web as we know it could become tangible, interactive, and more immersive than ever.”
As a sequel to my Feb 23 post X3DOM vs. Three.js, I’d like to quickly compare Blend4web vs. Three.js, using that same old arbitrary VRML file as a neutral sample. Blend4web is an add-on for Blender, the open-source 3D authoring tool I use.
Here’s how the Blender workspace containing my old VRML file looks when I export it using Blend4web:
And here’s the same Blender workspace exported as a COLLADA file and then imported into Three.js:
You can drag your mouse on either of those to move them around. Each button gives you a different motion when you drag. Each example uses each button in a different way.
What is the difference between a virtual world, and virtual reality?
A virtual world is a fake place you can visit. Virtual reality is an immersive way of experiencing virtual worlds.
The difference between virtual worlds vs virtual reality is kind of like the difference between a web page and colour monitors. A virtual world, like a web page, is a container of content. A VR headset, like a colour monitor, is a way of looking at content.
Could glasses, that exist today and project images of actual reality directly onto the retina, eventually evolve into a vehicle for allowing VR to be experienced without shutting out the outside world?
I for one have wondered what will be the future of VR goggles. It seems clear (pardon the pun) that until we can free our heads from the giant headsets that have to block out the real world, so that we can see the virtual world, we won’t be able to blur the lines between real reality, and virtual reality, to any great degree. Continue reading “Direct-to-retina imaging – VR in the real world?”