Three Lessons Learned showcasing Virtual Reality projects with the HTC VIVE

As the wave of virtual reality continues to grow, the need to showcase our projects in public spaces increases. Still, we are learning the best ways to deal with the technicalities of bringing VR headsets outside our confortable studios.

Here my lessons learned building VR Installations to showcase projects with the HTC Vive this summer.

For a HTC Vive VR Showcase you only need two lighthouse / base stations

One thing we learned pretty quickly is that, if you are using 2 or 3 VR Headsets to showcase your work- you will only need to install two lighthouse base stations to track them.

The best is to use the sync cable to connect the stations and ensure the better connection between them. Beyond this it’s easy, each computer will recognize automatically the base stations.

So yes, you can have 3 computers, 3 VR headsets and 6 hand controllers and it will all work with only two base stations like here:

Preparing the VR Installation of Mars 2030 at Gotham Hall, May 2016

Daylight will make your base stations stop working

You’d probably assume VR Installations are built in dark places — but in some cases, festivals or marketing teams will place you outside.

At Ideas Fest in L.A our installation worked perfectly until noon — when the sun was high and the daylight became too strong, it interfered with the tracking system, so the base stations stopped working and computers stopped recognizing the VR headset and the hand controllers.

You can see in this image that the base station is still in the shadow!

Your instinct will tell you to put clothes to create some shadow and continue with the showcase, while the artifice will work (yes, our VR installation worked again with this blue fabric!) it will probably not have the standards to make the marketing crew happy.

So remember, when preparing a showcase always ask where your VR Installation will be placed — and build and design from there.

If indoors — get air conditioner for every computer you are using or have many HDMI cables

If you are preparing the showcase in a tent, in the summer heat, be ready to get some A.C for all (I said all) your computers. Or have many fans, or the AC in between the towers of the computers or keep in mind how you’ll cool down your machines, (maybe having 2 or more HDMI cables, at least, will help u).

In one of our Mars 2030 installations the look inside the showcase was really cool and futuristic — the whole room was at around 80 degrees compared to the 105 degrees we had outside — but this temperature wasn’t enough for the computers. One of them (the one placed a little bit farther from the AC) worked well for two hours (before 2pm). After that, the HDMI cable that connects the HTC-Breakout-Box to the computer-tower, got over-heated and we had to cool it down every 30 minutes.

On a positive note — with the end of summer we’ll be less AC-dependent, and the daylight will be lower. But keep these 3 points in mind or you’ll remember this post when your machines, base stations and showcase stop working!

Take care- be real.