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  • Thu 30 Oct 2008

    Waterscreen for large displays

    Published at 11:42   Category VR Displays  

    Woops, bad manipulation so this old post got lost.. Here is it again :

     From Clickz, just a nice example of using finely sprayed water as a screen, “part of a promotion for an upcoming movie release” :

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    Sun 26 Oct 2008

    ACM VRST 2008

    Published at 22:04   Category Virtual Reality  

    I’ll be at the VRST (VR Software & Technology) conference in Bordeaux, France, from Monday to Wednesday, so see you there!

    (But I won’t be at the AFRV days so don’t wait for me ;)

    Thu 23 Oct 2008

    jDome – an interview of John Nilson

    Published at 17:09   Category Game, VR Displays  

    One day, John Nilson, a 38 years old swedish system engineer, decided he wanted to play in an immersive environment and that everybody should have the same chance. So he created the jDome:

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    And so as I’m in a big trend of making interviews, here’s his interview :

    - How is the project born ?

    I’ve always been interested in VR, I even wrote a paper on it back in 94 and thought we would all wear goggles by now. But that didn’t happen, because the tech doesn’t work for the consumer market at the moment, for a number of reasons, which the jDome solves – now.

    My main inspiration has been visits to a local omnimax theater. When I’ve been watching the movies, I’ve thought – it feels like I’m here, flying over grand canyon; what if I try this at home? So I made a prototype out of regular printer paper (you can see images at gallery.jdome.com) and saw that it worked. I got some funding to make a better prototype and get a patent.

    - What’s the material of the dome ?

    It is a thin white plastic – almost like paper actually. It isn’t the finished material, though.

    - On the video we can see that the material is not perfectly stretched on the sides, will you improve that ?

    Yes of course, but I can assure you that it doesn’t bother you when you play, because that is in your peripheral view – all you need there is motion. (Watch other movies about the jDome and see what other people say)

    - When do you think you’ll have a production line ?

    We hope to get it out by next summer.

    - What will be the launch price?

    We are aiming for $200, but then there is the cost of a projector if you don’t have one.

    - For the jDome to be successful, the targeted games should support a change in FOV (and as you say moving around the HUDs). How big a challenge is that ?

    You can of course play without changing the FOV, it is as immersive actually. But when you have the chance to get near 180 degrees field of view, why not crank up the FOV in the game if you can? We don’t set it to 180, because that needs a special driver/ option in the game, but we can set it to 125 and the game still works great and the objects you see in the corner of your eye is actually to the left or right in the game world.

    As far as the HUD elements are concerned, it depends on the game – Call of Duty 4 for instance, has the compass (where you’re supposed to go next) in the center of the screen, and that’s all you really need. There is plenty of ammo to go around and if you ignore the effect of your eyes popping out when you get hurt, you always get messages in the center of the screen when you should get to cover.

    We don’t have any plans to change any games – we feel that enough games work “out of the box”, at least as far as PC-games are concerned.

    If the jDome takes off, the modders will want their games to work with the jDome, and we think that applies for the game developers as well.

    Thanks for your time John and hope to have that with stereoscopy and tracking at home for $200, say for next christmas?  :p

    Mon 20 Oct 2008

    Augmented Reality on a mobile phone and interview of Int13

    Published at 13:30   Category Augmented Reality, Game  

    You may have seen the slow (but full-featured ARToolkit) AR on an iPhone, so here’s a fast version by French company Int13 on Windows Mobile, much more smooth!

    [In the meantime I heard that the iPhone doesn't have a real video camera, only a still picture camera, which would explain some of the lag.]

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    Since I also like their games, I’ve asked the Int13 team a few questions :

    Can you introduce yourself ?

    France Quiqueré, Lead Artist & Stéphane Cocquereaumont, Technical Director et President.

    How long has Int13 existed and what’s the goal of the company?

    We are a smart phone game studio. The company has been juridically created in April 2008, but Int13 Production, an association, was created in 2003.

    Why are you going to make Augmented Reality games ? How do you see the future of this technology?

    We got interested after seeing a video of a game on Gizmondo, back when AR wasn’t a hot topic.

    As for the future I can’t tell you what will be a success or not, and if I knew, we would be working on it :-) There’s a lot of work on the technical side to get a nice, intuitive and fluid interaction, especially on a mobile phone. Even the best concept in the world will be ridiculously gadget-looking if you can’t use it correctly.

    I know you have created your own mobile framework, can you tell us more about it?

    Our framework, uEngine, enables the cross-development of applications on several OS based on ARM processors, that is the iPhone,Windows Mobile, Symbian S60, some embedded Linux and Win32. The developer only has to recompile for the target platform and the uEngine handles everything.

    uEngine has among other features, optimized 2D functions, a 3D engine, a network API, a UI system, and memory manager, a physics library, an audio mixer… and an AR library of course.

    Can you tell us more about the AR part? How does it compare to existing AR frameworks ?

    After evaluating open source mobile AR solutions (mainly ARToolkit and it’s derivatives) and being disappointed by the performances, we developed our own Augmented Reality library from scratch.

    We think that currently our mobile AR library is better than any other concerning the three following points :
    * Performance : Consume about 15% of CPU power of a mid-range Smartphone, and there is still room for vast optimizations
    * Precision : Sub-Pixel precise, even the most subtle movements of the camera is registered
    * Stability : No filtering, the pose estimation algorithm is already very stable, meaning that the software reaction to camera movements is instantaneous (most AR libraries are averaring the pose estimation across many frames)

    When will we be able to play a demo =)

    I don’t think we will distribute any demo, but we will directly distribute our first AR game which should be released at best during spring 2009. We have currently working on two games. The targeted platforms are first the iPhone and Smartphones Windows Mobile/Symbian. Maybe also the DSi which happens to have a camera.

    The first game is a concept of artificial life with online battles, and the other game has some of the rules of pool, but more arcade style. The movements of the camera will move the cue around the tables.

    Anything else you want to say to VR Geeks ?

    All your base are belong to us? 42? I Can Has Cheezburger? That’s the g33k l33t language, isn’t it? Hi, Geeks!

    Thanks a lot for your time, I’ll write about the games here when they are released =)

    Wed 15 Oct 2008

    StarCAVE, a new type of CAVE

    Published at 17:34   Category VR Displays  

    The California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit²) has built a new type of CAVE, the third generation is a diamond shaped CAVE !

    It was conceived by Tom DeFanti and Daniel J. Sandin (with others, see at the end of article), creators of the first CAVE, with 5 sides and each side has 3 screens. If you add the floor, it makes 16 screens !! (Nice video)

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    The room operates at a combined resolution of over 68 million pixels – 34 million per eye – distributed over 15 rear-projected walls and two floor screens. Each side of the pentagon-shaped room has three stacked screens, with the bottom and top screens titled inward by 15 degrees to increase the feeling of immersion

    (…)

    At less than $1 million, the StarCAVE immersive environment cost approximately the same as earlier VR systems, while offering much higher resolution and contrast.

    (…)

    Among the VR room’s other features, it is wheelchair accessible, and it was designed to withstand earthquakes. One of the StarCAVE’s five walls (along with its six projectors, three screens and three computers) rolls back on steel rails to provide access for users into the space, and the wall rolls back into place to provide the full 360-degree, immersive VR experience.

    (…)

    A research paper about the design and construction of the StarCAVE appears in the current issue of the Elsevier journal, Future Generation Computer Systems (FGCS), and is available online at ScienceDirect. DeFanti’s co-authors on “The StarCAVE, a Third-Generation CAVE and Virtual Reality OptIPortal,” include Calit2′s Gregory Dawe, Jurgen P. Schulze, Peter Otto, Javier Girado, Falko Kuester, Larry Smarr and Ramesh Rao (all at UC San Diego), as well as Daniel J. Sandin of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Electronic Visualization Lab (EVL), and Javier Girado (now at Qualcomm, Inc.).

    Appart from regular high-end research, it seems they also want to improve everyday life applications (like e-mail) usage in a CAVE!

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    Mon 13 Oct 2008

    The story behind the Novint Falcon

    Published at 11:27   Category VR Devices  

    The Financial Times has an interesting article about the creation and the innovative business model of the Falcon haptics device :

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     “They said: ‘How are you going to get game support when you don’t have an installed base [of players using Falcon], and how do you get an installed base if you don’t have games that support it?’”

    Mr Anderson decided the solution to this conundrum would be to force a breakthrough with the games publishers. “Instead of telling publishers, ‘We want you to support the Falcon,’ we said, ‘We want to buy the 3D touch rights to your game.’

    “So instead of asking them to do something for us, we went to them and wanted to buy something that they didn’t even know they had – and we were the only company that could buy it.”

    (…)

    Novint was finally able to turn its attention to the consumer market when Mr Anderson acquired a design for the Falcon’s hardware from a company called Force Dimension, making such a device affordable for the mainstream market for the first time.

    (…)

    While Novint reported revenues of just $156,000 and a net loss of $4.1m for the first six months of this year, the chief executive says it has now reached an inflection point with wide acceptance of its new business model.

    Electronic Arts, the second largest video game publisher, is allowing Novint to develop versions of its Tiger Woods golf game, Madden NFL football, Need for Speed car racing and Battlefield and Mass Effect action titles. Other developers and publishers have signed up, including Codemasters, Valve and Eidos.

    (…)

    So while the appeal of his device is at present confined to early adopters, Mr Anderson believes the Falcon, or something like it, can achieve mass market appeal. “The field of haptics – our sense of touch – will easily be as big as graphics, but people don’t know it yet, it’s not in the mainstream.”

    (…)

    “This is what makes virtual reality seem real – vision and sound are important, but being able to feel as well is the missing piece of the triad.”

    Fri 3 Oct 2008

    Photo, China

    Published at 13:06   Category Perso  

    So after three weeks travelling in the south of China, I took more than 2’000 pictures. It took a while to handle but I’m finally over it!

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    We went freely from Shanghai, to the great Hong-Kong, played in the casinos of Macao, took an awful night bus from Guangzhou to Yangshuo, took a tasteful chinese cooking class with a beautiful view, had a great walk in the incredible rice terraces near Longshen, flew to the wonderful old Lijiang, walked in the impressive Tiger Leaping Gorges and strolled in old Dali.

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    We met a lot of very nice people, learned a lot of things about this mysterious country and had a great time.

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    [Update: the slideshow didn't fit right..]

    So here’s a slideshow of the ultra-mega best-of.

    Then my photo “career” is also slowly going up; I’ve had a publication in this month National Geographic France thanks to a competition, one publication in a beautiful cooking book by a renowned Parisian chef, I’ll have a photo in a collective exhibition from the famous CaféSalé creative community, and I’m trying to organize my own first exhibition of the above photos. So if you have an art gallery or a bar or a restaurant in Paris, let me know ;)

    More photos in my gallery.

    Wed 1 Oct 2008

    Two VR companies going down

    Published at 10:49   Category Virtual Reality  

    Trimersion, makers of cheap HMDs, seems to have gone out of business. Their website is down and people have been trying to contact them with no success.

    French company Nautilus, makers of VR applications and well know at Laval Virtual, is also shutting down.

    Good luck to all the people who were working over there!