A couple of years ago I watched a proof-of-concept video on YouTube of “warehouse scale” virtual reality. It showed people walking through darkened, real world spaces wearing VR goggles over their eyes. Their goggles worked as high tech blindfolds, keeping them from seeing what was really around them but also showing them a virtual world that was synced to the physical space, thus preventing them from colliding with anything physical. That’s the premise of warehouse scale VR. Once actual implementation occurred, the gear the users tote includes hand tools and haptics and the physical space has props and atmospheric effects to round out the simulation. While many teams worked/still work on the manufacture of warehouse scale VR, The Void was the first to deliver in the US. They brought their setup to TED 2016 and delivered next level virtual reality to a wide audience. A year and a half later warehouse scale installations are beginning to appear across the country. Continue reading “The rise of warehouse scale virtual reality”
A few days ago I got a plush JobBot in the mail. It sits on my cubicle desk, looking at me with that screwed up expression on its face and delighting me. When I make eye contact with him my mind fills with thoughts about virtual reality. Today he has me thinking about the early days of new gaming systems. I got my start with an Atari 2600, followed by a ColecoVision, Commodore 64, and first gen Nintendo Entertainment System. I have fond memories of games on each system, from Pitfall and Adventure to Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. It seems like every console has those games that people play at launch and then later develop nostalgia for them. Job Simulator has already hit that spot for me, as well as a few others. Early in 2016, before any headsets were shipping to the public, there were titles that people working in VR discussed. They cranked up my desire to try VR and to try those titles in particular; as headsets started shipping I had a list of experiences that I sought to try. I did my best to get to them all. Here in the middle of 2017 some of the titles from a year ago already sound outdated. In the space of a year they’ve already developed an “early days” vibe akin to 8-bit graphics. I haven’t even had a chance to try all the titles on my list and I’ve started striking some because they’re too aged to interest me anymore. Nevertheless I think titles like AltspaceVR, INVASION!, theBlu, and The Brookhaven Experiment are destined for whatever future hall of fame is developed for virtual reality. Fantastic Contraption, Job Simulator, and The Climb are modern day classics. In ten years’ time I’ll be quipping that, “in my day all we had was Temple Run VR and we liked it.” I did like it. I still do. I’m enjoying these games, bonding with them. In twenty years’ time I’ll be running a Gear VR emulator to try and re-live these experiences under the goggles.
As tethered virtual reality headsets started shipping in early 2016 there was an eruption of content for them. One of the titles that stood out was Job Simulator by Owlchemy Labs. It got big laughs, big reviews, and was used to showcase the whimsical side of virtual reality for those new to VR. It was one of the first experiences I bought and played once my PSVR was delivered. Even though the game only lasts a short while and has limited replayability I developed a fondness for the main character, JobBot. I strongly considered cosplaying as him (it?) at San Diego Comic-Con and was stopped only at the challenge of transporting the costume on the train along with my luggage. Back in March I pre-ordered a JobBot plush toy from iam8bit.com and it has just arrived. Continue reading “I love JobBot”
Even though I’m not connected to the world of high tech consumer electronics I enjoy following news of them. I follow tech news sites with my RSS feed, I listen to tech podcasts, and I follow a bunch of tech journalists on Google+. I’m equally not connected to the world of virtual reality, but I’m an even larger consumer of its news and podcasts. Between getting into tech and getting into VR I got excited about 360° photography. I spent time chasing a basic knowledge of its dos and don’ts, with the lessons learned being completely applicable to virtual reality. This stew of a hobby steers me into events and talks about how virtual reality and immersive settings gets made. It gives me appreciation for the work that goes into the things I enjoy, plus I also like knowing a few things about a few things. When I was at San Diego Comic-Con in July I attended as many panels about virtual reality as I could and I learned a few more things. Continue reading “Recap of virtual reality panels at San Diego Comic-Con 2017”