360 Photos on the Open Web

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.

A flattened Equirectangular Image (an unwrapped 360 image) of a little girl sitting on a jetty at the beach
How can we make this 360 photo fully immersive and available to everyone on the Open Web?

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.

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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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VR for Web Developers

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?

The dawn of virtual reality.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.

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A Virtual Reality Web – Elegant Descriptions and Pessimistic Outlook

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.

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3058591/why-a-virtual-reality-web-may-never-happen

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.

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Responsive VR – Virtual Reality that responds to any device.

Whether websites work in laptops but not phones – or whether VR works with goggles but not without – the solution then and the solution now, is to make web content that responds to whatever the heck hardware is being used to experience it.

Boris Smus is a man who understands the motivation behind “reponsive” web content, and responsive VR. From smus.com:

VR on the web threatens to cleave the web platform in twain, like mobile did before it. The solution then and the solution now is Responsive Web Design, which websites to scale well for all form factors. Similarly, for VR to succeed on the web, we need to figure out how to make VR experiences that work both in any VR headset, and also without a VR headset at all.Continue reading “Responsive VR – Virtual Reality that responds to any device.”

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Augmented Reality, Pop-up Books and Gardening

I saw an item in the news today about Google contemplating using augmented reality (AR) to turn old-school paper books into dynamic pop-up books.

http://techxplore.com/news/2016-03-google-envisions-delivery-ar-elements.html

An illustration of Google's idea for using augmented reality to create virtual pop-up booksThis is a fascinating idea. Physical media are part of the real world. If you can augment reality, you can also augment physical media. This would give you augmented physical media. Continue reading “Augmented Reality, Pop-up Books and Gardening”

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Passive VR – what is “passive virtual reality”?

Today, I stumbled on the term “passive VR” in an article I was reading about VR headsets at different price points.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/virtual-reality-1.3455804

(That’s a pretty good article about the broad range of VR headsets available in early 2016)

Google Cardboard - Passive VR on the cheap.
Google Cardboard – Passive VR on the cheap.

The article was talking about Google Cardboard, which is essentially a cardboard phone-holder and lens-holder that a specific app can use to give the simplest virtual reality experience. Continue reading “Passive VR – what is “passive virtual reality”?”

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