Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Occulus Rift first impressions

Occulus Rift and Totoro
     Earlier this week I received my Occulus Rift DK2 in the mail and I was giddy with excitement.  I am not sure why I was so giddy, I am not really a hard core techno gadget person.  I think it's mostly because I love receiving unexpected packages in the mail.  I would probably enjoy an empty box but I digress. 
     Anyway, so the term "plug and play" really has no meaning to me.  It is supposed to suggest you can just attach something and voila! you are done its working.  That never actually happens to me with anything.   It's horrible really.   For the occulus this was manifested in the rift itself and my monitor screen showing two different orientations.  Actually it really started with my rift just showing the desktop screen regardless of what program was playing.  I eventually figured out that you could right click your screen and pick "screen resolution" which would let you tell your rift to show what was on the monitor.  The next problem was that the occulus would show the image on the screen as either horizontal or vertical, but the opposite of what the screen showed.  I didn't actually fix this but rather used a feature of my monitor which allows me to turn it vertical.  That's right, the image above is not squished but rather just on its side, and that is the occulus in the bottom right.  Kind of hard to see, what a terrible picture.  Anyway, after I had it all set up and working I downloaded the bus stop scene from the movie My Neighbor Totoro.  You can see on the screen that the image is doubled with two Totoros as the occulus is actually considered another monitor for your computer, and needs to double it so that each eye has an image. 
     The experience was pretty cool.  The resolution was decent but will likely get much better and I was able to hang out with Totoro for a good long time before starting to feel a wee bit nauseated.  It was nothing terrible, no projectile vomiting, but it is something they are working to fix.  Another issue is that when wearing the Rift you can't see the keyboard, so typing is out of the question.  I expect either a template for the keyboard and maybe gloves will be created by some entrepreneur so that when you look down you can see a ghostly image of both hands and keyboard, or more likely, content will be created bypassing the need for typing of any sort.  When I imagine my next artwork for SL I could make it Occulus compatible by making most things work by avatar proximity.  So if you walk within a range of something then it activates a voice to narrate or a door to open etc.  It wouldn't really be too hard but it could take a lot of planning to ensure that the unique traits of a virtual world, specifically the users ability to interact with object on their own terms, is maintained rather than forcing the viewer to follow a scripted path.  The artwork must be open ended allowing for choice, so hopefully the Occulus (in the short term anyway) wont, out of necessity due to its limitations, force creations to take a step back by making them more linear.
Nerds throughout time
After wearing the Occulus for an evening I was pleased to find this image on the left of a man wearing an, at the time, modern diving suit for a picture with his wife.  It was reassuring for me to know that nerds have existed for all time, and then, in my mind, I imagined their conversation.

"Baby, so I decided to wear my new diving suit for our picture!"  "You are fucking with me right? take that shit off!" "But baby it's high tech!, so modern and cool, I can walk on the bottom of the ocean in this thing!"  "Go back.. in the changing room.. right now.. and take that shit off...  you are not wearing that for our daguerreotype family photo."  "Oh but baby please all the guys think its the best!, Reginald wanted to wear it but I said no, so he had to wear his top hat. But I let Sturgeon Bill wear it and then he shared his snuff and tea with me" etc etc and she grudgingly let him wear it.  I must admit that I do feel like a big nerd wearing this headset and it really doesn't help that my friends laugh at me in it, but on the plus side I have no intention of sending out Christmas cards while wearing it.  So on occasion I will do a post here or there about things I am discovering, and I have yet to try it with Second Life so will let you know how that goes.  It is still a very early beta, but if you like the idea of getting the developer kit to mess around with (and help me figure stuff out) then you can get one here.  And it should also be mentioned that there is a viewer made for use in SL called CtrAltStudio where you can download the viewer if you already have an Occulus.  I think the default Linden viewer might be compatible too but not sure.

8 comments:

Jacki Morie said...

Hey Bryn

So glad you are thinking about doing your amazing immersive art for people to view in a stereo HMD. Up close and personal. I cannot wait!

Haydn Roelofs said...

Hi Bryn, Thanks for this first look at OR in SL. Have you taken a look at the Leap Motion product at all? What started out as an interesting experiment in hands-free, gesture-based control of a 3D environment appears to be on the verge of integrating tightly with VR headsets like OR. They've just upgraded their SDK and introduced a VR Developer Mount that lets the Leap controller integrate input into the visual 3D space. If you're interested, and haven't looked at it yet already, Google up "Leap Motion". Interesting possibilities for the future.

Bryn Oh said...

Thanks Jacki! Yes Haydn I did have a look at the Leap Motion method of navigation and decided to go with one from Sixense called the Stem system (hopefully was the right choice) http://sixense.com/wireless
That arrives in October!

Haydn Roelofs said...

Wow, Bryn, I hadn't seen the STEM system before. It sort of tells the Leap Motion to go take a seat in the corner, doesn't it? One concern I'm sure many people have is the prohibitively high cost of entry into the VR space. For those of us without $700-900 lying around for use in gaming, these toys will remain out of reach for the masses. One hopes for eventual price drops as the technology matures and competitive products appear... but it may be a rather long time before most of us can enjoy the complete VR experience.

Bryn Oh said...

Very true Haydyn it is expensive for all the bits involved, so it really will need to go down in price after the betas are done. Only reason I can get the Stem system now is due to an art grant, otherwise I wouldn't be able to afford it either.

Sally Caves said...

Bryn, how heavy is the mask to wear? (I'm thinking of eventual headaches and neck strain--now, that is. When they get it as small as google glass and bring the price down that would be the time to go for it for me.) Does touch typing work? I'm a whiz at that! Can you see what you type and correct it?

Bryn Oh said...

No it doesn't feel heavy to me Sally. I am a pretty good typer but even still I lost track of where my hands were a few times and had to peek, but I have not yet worn it in sl where I would need to type regularly wearing it. I think for full immersion something like google glass is too small to get that 360 feel. But as they develop screens that can do 1900x1080 resolution in such a small area then who knows!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your art work one day and joined your group>>>>good luck with the exhibition (pity Im another world away, so will miss it in rl).
This blog/story on the 'diver photo' had me laughing so much, I can totally see it going down that way :)