Full House! Image courtesy of SVVR.

SVVR #32: Developers, Developers, Developers

Whoa, move over meetup #31. That was probably the best SVVR meetups I’ve been to since moving to the Bay Area in February of this year. Hosted at the beautiful Samsung Research America HQ in Mountain View by Jon & Co., this edition welcomed well over 100 members of the VR/AR Community and general population to learn about developments in the VR world, see demos and most importantly, get together!

Key Takeaways

  • Samsung is going full-tilt with the GearVR software and hardware; there are incredible developer tools that allow powerful in-headset VR development
  • Samsung is quietly pushing WebVR development frameworks and features
  • Visbit talked streaming for VR content, and how latency bottlenecks can be solved in interesting ways
  • GreenlightVR is conducting heavy industry research on the state of the ecosystem, which reveals interesting trends

1) Major Updates for the Samsung Gear SDK:

Developing right in the GearVR environment is now possible!

First up for Samsung was Director of Software, Tom Flynn. Tom gave an engaging talk and demo about the slew of updates that the GearVR software had recently received/ they were tinkering with internally:

  • GearVR Framework: is a Java API that allows easy development of VR applications and is built on top of Oculus Mobile SDK and compliments existing solutions
  • There is now support for video objects which you can integrate with android media player. In addition there is web view and support for the camera (aka computer vision mode or pass-through in vr mode)
  • General features: Frustum culling per scene and not per eye | OVR multiview| Draw call batching| Inserting a line of JS to create sphere-scene objets, created android media player | Support for Vulcan (allows low CPU graphics, support for X3D)
  • Scripting features: Support for Lua or JS, write full program logic via scripting, attach scripts to scene objects (“script bundles”), connect over network and perform scripting commands, reomote scripting support

Live Demo: 
Tom with his development team consisting of Raul and Par conducted a risky but successful live demo of development of VR directly in the GearVR environment. It was an entertaining bit, as Tom showed off some of the features:

  • Tom showed off a GearVR environment and the ability to use an in-headset terminal to develop for the Gear without having to take off the headset!
  • Using two third-party controllers, Tom was able to use a 3D cursor to interact with objects in VR, pulling on them in “real life” to change their size in VR — very Tilt-Brushesque
  • Finally, they demoed the InVR scene editor. Using the editor you can have skyboxes inside VR, can load3D models from your phone, placing different objects and helping rapidly prototype VR environments and scenes.
  • The end result? A scene with a T-Rex teaching PokemonGO characters how to avoid being harassed by humans. True story.

Resources:

  • github.com/samsung/gearvrf

2) What’s Next for WebVR

Up next was Michael Blix, a developer for Samsung working on the WebVR frameworks for the GearVR.

  • In summary: Everything you currently experience on the web is becoming more and more easily consumed through WebVR — essentially the framework for hosting VR content natively on our browsers
  • What does that mean? In the near future, you won’t need to download dedicated VR apps, but consume content directly through your headset. I.e. Youtube now has an easy toggle between 2D and VR mode.
    The most interesting bit was a demo of Quake being hosted directly on the web and consumed right in VR.
  • Shopify for VR is coming — and it actually looks pretty awesome
  • There is a new Skybox API to allow you to develop WebVR worlds directly in the Samsung headset | access your files directly in VR to drag-and-drop VR-ready photos and videos into the skybox
  • In conclusion: The metaverse already exists, its about giving 2D some VR wings and not re-inventing the wheel with new content. Its about porting compelling 2D cases directly to VR.

Resources:

  • W3C Workshop on Web & VR: W3c.github.io/vr-workshop (submissions due sept 16) October 19–20
  • To access the presentation: http://pres.webvr.io

3) Visbit

Next up with Dr. Changyin Zhou for Visbit Inc., helping make 4K video consumable in VR today. Sounds like an ambitious goal considering latency issues related to, as he described it, “~8% of US internet users having speeds capable of streaming 4K Video”. In essence there are few issues and solutions to high-quality, streaming VR:

  • We need 16K for VR Video to be really really good (its how we experience the world with 20/20 vision aka we see 60 pixels per 1degree of area)
  • Internet speed is the major bottleneck, for 360 degree you get 4–5K (internet gives you 720P-1080P).
  • Nielsen’s law helps frame this issue. (It’s the Moore’s law for internet speed). Tells us for ever 1 year, internet speed increases by a marginal rate while latency requirements increase an an exponential rate.

Current Solutions

  • Download, smaller FOV, better video compression
  • View-optimized streaming
  • The problem remains: What if the viewer turns their head? Quality is quickly lost causing motion sickness

Next-Generation Streaming Solution

  • Traditional streaming, dedicated server, pyramid projection or Visbit’s proprietary streaming service (visbit.c0)

4) Clifton: GreenlightVR

Last but not least was Clifton Dawson of GreenlightVR the market research company for VR, that conducts consumers insights and business analysis research. They’ve done some incredible work for the VR community, notably:

  • Creating a VR industry monitor; got started with an ecosystem map a few years ago
  • Recently conducted a VR suvery in which 300 people participated, answering questions like:
  1. What are the features that drive real value?
  2. Should all experiences be treated equally?
  3. What are the obstacles to expanding the experience pipeline? How do we resolve them?

Interestingly, SVVR has partenered with Greenlight to conduct VR research in order to accomplish:

  1. A 2016 VR Industry Report, Fall update
  2. VR Strategy Conference
  3. VR Camera Report

Community Updates and Lightning Pitches

  • Aaron from AR/VR Academy.io is hosting an event Wednesday September 7
  • Box in Redwood City: CMS for Enterprise; Sponsoring Hackathon with AWS, VR applications with those APIs using box as storage platform (dmillet@box.com)
  • Jay from Sacramento College, animated VR shortfall: looking for people to review final project
  • Tim Duncan from San Jose College will be teaching classes in VR production, HCI design for VR. Classes will be held Saturday mornings
  • AMD spoke about ProjectLoom, Opensource 360 stitching; Announced Sub $200 graphics card; and will be hosting VR on the Lot Event this October
  • Van from a social VR platform, hiring unity developer and engineers
  • Enflux: Motion-capture clothes gives everyone a body in VR. Looking for Unity Developers. Enfluxvr.com