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General VR discussion thread

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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The Oculus Rift launch thread was starting to derail, so I created this one for generic VR stuff discussion. I've captured some basic links & info on my wiki:

http://catch42.pbworks.com/w/page/104034609/VR

I'm very interested to see what happens in the VR space over the next few years. Lots of accessories & projects being worked on as well, such as foveated rendering using a 250Hz eye-tracking kit:

http://uploadvr.com/smi-eye-tracking-foveated-rendering-exclusive/

Or 60Ghz wireless video connections:

http://uploadvr.com/nitero-wireless-vr-2016/

And 11K displays:

http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/134580-forget-about-4k-and-even-8k-samsung-is-making-11k-displays

Interesting note on display resolution:

http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/when-it-comes-to-resolution-its-all-relative/

Michael Abrash said the following:

Given a 90-degree field of view in both directions, 4K-by-4K resolution would be close to achieving that, and 8K-by-8K would exceed it.

...

Believe me, I can’t wait to have a 120-by-120-degree field of view at 8K-by-8K resolution – it will (literally) be a sight to behold. But I’m not expecting to behold it for a while.
That's a ridiculous amount of CPU & GPU processing once you do the math, but still...very exciting to think that we might see better-than-wetworks resolution in another couple of generations of VR gear. Lots of people are working on really neat accessories for input & tracking...skinsuits, eye-tracking, motion controls, etc. I foresee a lot of fast development in this space over the next few years. Moveo just demoed a 360-degree VR flight simulator at CES:

http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/08/krush-moveo-360-vr-simulator/

Might seem crazy to put in a house & expensive, but there are already smaller devices that could potentially fit in a large room or garage for a few thousand dollars: (particularly racing simulators, but also 360 motion simulators)

http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/motion-simulator.html

Granted, the full-motion 360 models are between $30 to $60k, but they'll figure out how to get the price down. They'd probably be more for mall arcades & the kids of 1%'ers, but still having this type of technology become available would be really, really cool. Lots of potential for entertainment, virtual tours, etc.
 

jlee

Lifer
Sep 12, 2001
48,494
210
106
Motion in the simulation racing world is nothing new - but it would be nice if the price came down.

Though for stuff like this, I don't expect the price to ever become within reach of the average enthusiast.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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Motion in the simulation racing world is nothing new - but it would be nice if the price came down.

Though for stuff like this, I don't expect the price to ever become within reach of the average enthusiast.
Holy crap! That's awesome! They even add vibrations to it!

I would love to see that in a 360-degree ball, so that when coupled with a headset, you could do a driving sim, flight sim, space sim, etc. You know, that doesn't cost $100k :D
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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For anyone wondering about the availability of the HTC Vive:

http://blog.htc.com/2015/12/htc-vive-update/

We will be starting the new year by making an additional 7,000 units available to developers, with pre-orders from the end of February followed by commercial availability in April 2016.
I have a pre-order in for an Oculus Rift (and a VirZoom exercise bike), but mine doesn't ship out until May. I'm considering ordering a Vive, especially since reviewers who have tried both think the Vive is better (and the latest update has a front camera!), plus I could flip the Oculus to a friend (or online) pretty easily. And assuming they don't push the ship date out for later orders like the Oculus did, I might actually get it sooner!
 

beardfistmcfist

Junior Member
Dec 19, 2015
4
0
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What about the playstation VR? If it costs the same as the Rift($599), and you buy a Playstation for $350, then you are all in for $950 as opposed to $1500 for the rift and pc and probably much more for the VIVE and pc. I'm probably going that route and then maybe get the second generation Oculus or VIVE. I already spent 200 on the Virzoom and 350 for a playstation, so all I need is the Playstation VR
 

ImpulsE69

Lifer
Jan 8, 2010
14,794
824
126
What about the playstation VR? If it costs the same as the Rift($599), and you buy a Playstation for $350, then you are all in for $950 as opposed to $1500 for the rift and pc and probably much more for the VIVE and pc. I'm probably going that route and then maybe get the second generation Oculus or VIVE. I already spent 200 on the Virzoom and 350 for a playstation, so all I need is the Playstation VR
Keep in mind that on the PS VR the resolution is half what the others are offering. I think the refresh is higher (120hz vs 90hz) though. At this point, I don't know which is better. Also, PS VR is said to actually be more expensive (at least that was the plan) than the Rift.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,584
469
126
For anyone wondering about the availability of the HTC Vive:

http://blog.htc.com/2015/12/htc-vive-update/
Hm... I think the hardest thing about the Vive is ensuring that the room is setup well for it. I use a corner desk in my computer room, but I think I need one that's flat against a wall to setup the proper experience of having the lighthouses on the wall. I could always use it on my Gaming HTPC instead, but it has a GTX 960 (it has full-fledged H.265 decoding and good 1080p performance), which will probably not be powerful enough. I'm thinking about just building a straight computer desk.
 

jlee

Lifer
Sep 12, 2001
48,494
210
106
Hm... I think the hardest thing about the Vive is ensuring that the room is setup well for it. I use a corner desk in my computer room, but I think I need one that's flat against a wall to setup the proper experience of having the lighthouses on the wall. I could always use it on my Gaming HTPC instead, but it has a GTX 960 (it has full-fledged H.265 decoding and good 1080p performance), which will probably not be powerful enough. I'm thinking about just building a straight computer desk.
If you have the power for it, you can get ITX-sized 970's.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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So I got my Viewmaster in today. What I didn't realize was that it's a Google Cardboard certified product, so it works with a TON of stuff - media players, apps, Youtube VR, etc. It is pretty neat! I've only got an iPhone 5S, so there's a lot of screen-door effect & the picture doesn't look HD (or even SD), but it does give you a good feel for what the Oculus will be like. I'll post more about it once I've played with a bunch of stuff on it.

From what I've read, the Gear VR is 10x as good as Google Cardboard systems. With my Oculus not shipping out until May (5 months away), I am tempted to pick up a Gear VR ($99) & play around with it. Less content than the Google Cardboard system, but higher quality. Only problem is that I have an iPhone. Not sure if it's worth a few hundred bucks more to pick up a compatible Samsung phone.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,584
469
126
With my Oculus not shipping out until May (5 months away), I am tempted to pick up a Gear VR ($99) & play around with it. Less content than the Google Cardboard system, but higher quality. Only problem is that I have an iPhone. Not sure if it's worth a few hundred bucks more to pick up a compatible Samsung phone.
I'm tempted to try this model as it's one of the few that will not only lists compatibility with an iPhone, but it also supports a 6" iPhone (i.e. iPhone 6 plus). There's the VR One, but that only supports an iPhone 6/6s.

Although, I'm not sure what sort of VR apps are available that are worthwhile.

EDIT:

If you have the power for it, you can get ITX-sized 970's.
Oh, I definitely didn't go small with this HTPC as it's built in a Fractal Design Define R5. So, I should be able to fit just about any graphics card that I want. The reason why I went with the 960 is that it has full hardware HVEC (h.265) decoding and it can play most games really well at 1080p. Given that the 970 was $100 more, I didn't see the reason to spend the extra money. At this point, I wonder if it might be worthwhile to wait for Pascal for an upgrade for it.
 
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Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
44,815
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I'm tempted to try this model as it's one of the few that will not only lists compatibility with an iPhone, but it also supports a 6" iPhone (i.e. iPhone 6 plus). There's the VR One, but that only supports an iPhone 6/6s.

Although, I'm not sure what sort of VR apps are available that are worthwhile.
Yeah, I've got an iPhone 5S - despite the SDE & what appears to be like 480p quality, it's pretty dang neat with the Viewmaster. It gives you a really good taste of what the Oculus will be like (and how much better it will be, quality-wise). I would suggest getting the VRSE app to start out with: (free)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vrse-virtual-reality/id959327054?mt=8

I recommend watching Daniel Askill's "Take Flight" video first, it's a nice short video that really showcases the neat things you can do (CGI, high-quality photography, and a unique experience taking off & going down). Frankly I'm amazed at how good some of the content is already. The app has a bunch of videos; "The Displaced" is an amazing short about the displaced children of conflict. They are clever in how they filmed it - they photographer hid from the shot & let the kids do the storytelling, so you can see it from their perspective, both story-wise & visually. It's more heartbreaking to watch in VR than just to look at pictures & read a story because you can look around & see exactly what kind of situation they're in.

The Viewmaster comes with a Space app that has a mini-game that is kind of neat (should work on all Cardboard-compatible devices since you can just play the demo - I think), not so much for the minigame itself as much as it lets you watch space shuttle launch footage on a giant 2D screen floating in space. So it's like you're at the movies watching a big screen. Again, unfortunately my 5S is pretty pixely & not at all HD, but in context it looks great. I know there are some neat video players that put you in a movie theater & stuff, still playing with different apps. Reddit has a good Cardboard section with a great introduction here:

https://www.reddit.com/r/GoogleCardboard/comments/39t5tl/7000_subscribers_extra_basic_cardboard_questions/

There are a bunch of video players available as well; I'm using Homido Player right now to watch stuff like Youtube VR videos. Horror games & movies are going to be amazing on this...I watched one that was short, low-res, and pixelated, and the end still made me jump haha. Look for "SBS" or "side by side" videos that have the screen split into left & right so you get the 3D effect. There appears to be multiple levels of VR:

1. Fullscreen VR, where it's basically a 360-degree photo or video, no viewer required. It's a fullscreen image that uses the phone's gyroscope so you can look around in a 3D sphere. Youtube has those; here's one where you're a little droid rolling around:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uG9vtckp1U

2. Fixed SBS, which has 2 images & merges them - not necessarily for pop-out 3D, but for a looking-in effect. This would be like for a movie trailer where the image is fixed, so no matter where you turn your head, you're always looking at it straight-on. Here's a trailer for Star Wars that somebody did this way (it goes dual screens on the iPhone's Youtube app when you turn it horizontal); it's squished into full-frame, but you get the idea:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jruKwPpKIv0

3. 360 SBS, which is the same idea as merging a left & right image, except that you can also look around in a 3D sphere. A good example of this is the Viewmaster app "Destinations" (not sure if you need the included Viewmaster ring to "activate" the pictures or not); I'm sure there are free 360 SBS viewers & photos out there. But you can go to say London & look around from a fixed position, which is actually really immersive just for a photo because your head movements make it more real.

3a. 360 SBS with a 2D frame. Same idea as above, but they put pictures or movies into a giant picture frame or television set in front of you. The Viewmaster National Geographic app does this in one of the sections - it has a ring of photos that you can zoom in & look at. The Space app mentioned above does this in the minigame...it's similar to Fixed SBS, where you get a giant-screen TV in front of you, except you can also look around at the screen in a 360-degree sphere. So you can look behind you or to the side. Wheresas Fixed SBS makes you feel like you're watching say a 100" home theater projector, 360 SBS with a 2D frame makes you feel more like you're at the movie theater, because it lets you see just how "big" the virtual screen is. I can't wait to get the Oculus & watch some movies on it!

Some people online are working on lots of different 3D sets, like actual movie theaters or islands, which sounds really dumb until you try it. If I remember the space one right, you're sitting out in space next to earth and there's a giant IMAX-style video in front of you playing space shuttle launch footage, so it's kind of a cool backdrop. If the Oculus' resolution is high enough, then movies will look really good. The Star Wars trailer above looks neat but definitely doesn't look HD, although the space shuttle launch footage actually looks better, I think because (1) it's not HD (which sounds counter-intuitive, but actually looks good), (2) it's on a larger virtual screen, and (3) the screen is further away (instead of right in front of you). So it gets it more depth & a reference for size in 3D.

3b. 360 SBS with gaming, same as idea as watching a movie, but with some basic gaming capabilities. Basically a dot in the middle of your vision, which you tilt your head to aim. There's some stuff like space shooters & zombie shooters that are kind of fun. This aiming trick also works for activating menus & stuff. I haven't come across a game yet that lets you actually walk around in your room or use some kind of wireless controller, but I haven't dug into it too much.

Overall, the photo & video stuff work the best; the 3D CGI stuff works to an extent, but it feels detached even though you're in 3D space because of the issues of using a phone as a screen (SDE, lower res, motion blur, etc.). This is why I'm thinking about getting a Gear VR...more interactive stuff & better quality to play with for the next five months until the Oculus & Vive come out. Here is some good reading & links to cool apps & videos for Cardboard-compatible stuff:

http://www.gizmag.com/google-vr-best-content-guide/40140/

http://www.wareable.com/google/the-best-google-cardboard-apps

In short, I think it's a lot of fun. Everyone with a compatible smartphone & an interest in VR should pick up one of these styles of headsets to play with. My buddy got his Google Cardboard used off eBay for a couple bucks; a lot of them are in the $20 range, so they're pretty affordable:

https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/get-cardboard/

Definitely gives me a feel for where VR is going in the future. I can think of all kinds of awesome things you could use this for...gaming, movies, virtual tours, activities for people who are disabled where travel is difficult, an outlet for the elderly who are in nursing homes or homebound, remodeling & home design, all kinds of stuff. I'd love for Netflix to come out with a VR section so I could hook up my aging grandma to tours all over the world for entertainment. Lots of really neat possibilities.

One aspect I'm particularly interested in is vision therapy. One of my eyes is goofed up (convergence insufficiency syndrome), so I not only have to wear glasses, but also take vision therapy every few years to re-train my brain to focus correctly. I really have to work to focus on some of the 3D content in the Viewmaster because my regular glasses don't fit in the physical interface, which is great for vision training because it forces me to continually focus my eyes. I would love to have an app that would let me do that as needed! So lots of cool ways to apply this technology.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
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I've had a bunch of family & friends try out the Viewmaster (mainly VR photos, VRSE's "Take Flight", and a CGI rollercoaster simulation). Two of them got sick from looking around, especially on the rollercoaster sim, even though it was just Crash Bandicoot-level computer graphics. I was really surprised that anyone would have a negative reaction to it (because it's not like it's a clear, high-def picture), but one almost fell over and the other kept having to remove the glasses to manage the nausea. Interesting. I wonder if it's something like flying that you can push through & get used to eventually.

Second thing, there's no physical pass-through for an audio cable on the Viewmaster, and some content has binaural audio that requires headphones to sound the best with. Plenty of cheap BT headphones on Amazon, or just get a Bluetooth receiver with audio port for your existing headphones:

http://www.amazon.com/Anker-Aluminum-Bluetooth-Transmitter-Headphones/dp/B00E174RTS/
 

maniacalpha1-1

Diamond Member
Feb 7, 2010
3,562
14
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Can't we just send teams through the Stargate until we find a civilization that already achieved 8k X 8k VR and get them to share it with us? Or better yet, one that invented the kind where it streams the images directly into your brain.

Is that 11 pixels per degree thing really as bad as it sounds for VR vs monitor?
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
44,815
2,349
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Can't we just send teams through the Stargate until we find a civilization that already achieved 8k X 8k VR and get them to share it with us? Or better yet, one that invented the kind where it streams the images directly into your brain.

Is that 11 pixels per degree thing really as bad as it sounds for VR vs monitor?
I can tell you that the quality of my iPhone 5S in the Viewmaster is pretty crummy. It's like watching a VHS tape through a screen door. But the experience is still really cool & there's lots of stuff to play around with until the Oculus arrives.
 

Matthiasa

Diamond Member
May 4, 2009
5,757
22
81
Can't we just send teams through the Stargate until we find a civilization that already achieved 8k X 8k VR and get them to share it with us? Or better yet, one that invented the kind where it streams the images directly into your brain.

Is that 11 pixels per degree thing really as bad as it sounds for VR vs monitor?
Given that the human eye can easily discern around 9-10 times that, I would suspect so.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
44,815
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OK, now how does one go about capturing/recording real spaces in 3D for VR applications?
There are a variety of ways to do it, for example:

1. Using your cell phone's camera (360 still photos & side-by-side video)
2. Using a dual-camera setup (3D)
3. Using a 360 camera setup (360 video)
4. Using a VR camera (multiple cameras built into one rig)

Stuff like Homido Player has a video recorder that translates the footage into side-by-side video for you to watch in your Cardboard. A dual-camera setup is better because then you get real 3D (because it's two pictures that are offset so you get the 3D effect). You can also do a 360 camera rig like with a bunch of GoPros:

http://www.360heros.com/

https://gopro.com/news/happy-sweet-sixteen-introducing-gopros-360-camera-array

There are a lot of VR cameras starting to come out. Nikon just beat everyone out of the gate with a VR action cam at CES:

http://www.roadtovr.com/nikons-4k-360-camera-rugged-ready-maybe-not-vr/

Or the professional Nokia Ozo for $60k, which is a bubble of cameras:

https://ozo.nokia.com/

VRSE shot "The Displaced" using eight GoPros on a pole. The Odyssey from GoPro holds 16 cameras for $15k:

http://www.theverge.com/2015/9/8/9261745/gopro-google-odyssey-virtual-reality-camera

So, there are a lot of ways to do it. The Viewmaster comes with a Destinations app that you can download on your phone, which uses 360-degree still photos to let you look around your location - you don't need a 360-camera rig for that, just an app that does panoramas. The Google Cardboard app itself actually lets you do that - instead of just Pano, it's a full 360 shot that you spin around for:

http://www.wired.com/2015/12/google-cardboard-camera-app/

So the equipment & capture method depends on what kind of still or video footage you want to create. I think a really good example of what you can do with VR is VRSE's "Take Flight" experience, which has high-end photography (well, video - well-lit floating actors) & a neat flying/falling/floating feeling, plus a bit of CGI & stuff. The amount of work & planning to execute stuff like this in VR is insane though, but I think it would be really fun to shoot a movie like that (whereas I'd probably never ever shoot a 3D movie - I did like Avatar, but literally nothing else I've seen in 3D has been good so far - but VR is a very immersive experience & you can do some really neat stuff in it).
 

DarkKnightDude

Senior member
Mar 10, 2011
981
44
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I've decided to screw it and go for the Rift. I have a DK2 already and very much loving it and I'm convinced VR is the way forward. 600 bucks might be expensive, but if this makes costs cheaper for everyone else in the long run and VR gets better as a result of this, I'm on board.

I can always cancel my order heh.
 

Kaido

Elite Member & Kitchen Overlord
Feb 14, 2004
44,815
2,349
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I've decided to screw it and go for the Rift. I have a DK2 already and very much loving it and I'm convinced VR is the way forward. 600 bucks might be expensive, but if this makes costs cheaper for everyone else in the long run and VR gets better as a result of this, I'm on board.

I can always cancel my order heh.
Congrats! Considering my experience so far with the low-end Viewmaster unit, I am already sold on VR. I'll probably pick up a Gear VR this month so that I get a few months of high-quality VR under my belt before the Oculus ships & also might pre-order the Vive. I have a couple project ideas in mind already, so I'm jumping in head-first! Gotta dig out my 3D programs and start screwing around...so many neat tools like Unity out there to play with!
 
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