Have you seen the new Samsung VR ad? It’s a beautiful composition in a trendy, exposed-brick loft where a videographer captures individuals (and a few couples) experiencing VR for presumably the first time. The video is filled with perfectly-timed cuts between wide shots and close-ups. Authentic reactions and emotions jump off the screen to convey the power of the unseen VR content that is being presented on Samsung’s hardware offering.
The video is by all accounts a perfect ad spot. Unfortunately, it is also underscores a fundamental flaw in the VR experience.
When we engineer an experience that blends both physical and digital elements, it is crucial that our team understands the scale, limitations, and properties of the materials, hardware, and software that we are using. Without this understanding, you can waste time and resources producing an experience that doesn’t match your original vision.
This lesson is one that I learned all too well several years ago from a humble wooden floor lamp.
Grab a piece of fresh, white printer paper and let’s make this work day a little more interesting. Go to Google and look for a robot arm (or if you’re like one of our project managers, Thomas, just grab your favorite action figure out of the 42 sitting on your desk). Draw a quick sketch of what you see.
Done? Good. Now, without looking too silly, move around the room and draw every angle of that arm that you can see. Oh, and while you’re at it…think about how that arm will look at any given time of day. Pretty tough assignment, isn’t it? Welcome to 3D modeling for VR.
The car is packed, the passengers are loaded, and the snack rations have been properly distributed. The sky is clear and the road is calling. Now, it’s time to make the most important decision of the road trip: Which GPS app should we use to arrive at our destination?
The year was 1991. Anthony Hopkins created a new wine pairing with liver and fava beans. Paul Reubens was caught being inappropriate. The cool kids were listening to Nirvana. Tim Berners-Lee came up with something about “links.” And, the first mass-produced, networked, VR entertainment system, Virtuality, debuted. Oh and in slightly lesser known news, a small digital design studio was born on a front porch during an October afternoon.
The first step to fixing a problem is knowing it exists. When developing interactive applications for our clients, we spend a lot of time testing each project’s software and hardware to ensure that it will perform as designed once it moves out of our safe, secure Development Lab and into “the wild” (aka: the customer’s location).
The touchscreen is the user’s window into your application, exhibit, or interactive experience. If the display quality, color balance, backlight uniformity, or touch responsiveness is less than perfect, the user will notice immediately. When nearly everyone has a high-performance multi-touch screen device in their pocket, they expect the same or better performance from any large touchscreen they encounter in a museum, library, or corporate environment.
In Greek mythology, King Midas is remembered as the king with the ability to turn everything he touched into gold. And just like King Midas, how can you tell if visitors to your touchscreen are turning your information into gold?
There are a considerable number of people who will gush over functional programming, and I am one of those people. The use of mathematical functions to determine computational output based only on the arguments that are input to the function is a sweet, organized melody of calculated logic to my inner soul.
We are constantly upgrading our programming tools and languages to take advantage of the latest technologies. The connected, interactive touchscreen applications that we are building today are vastly different than the standalone programs we developed 12 years ago. C# is one of the programming languages that we are currently using to create much richer (and much more reliable) visitor experiences for museums, libraries and corporate visitor spaces.