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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
In the beginning, there were cave paintings. And with that, mankind moved into an age where thoughts could be shared with others, in the absence of the original thinker. Mankind had invented static media.
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: