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  • Tue 10 Jul 2012

    Some news

    Published at 13:20   Category Perso, Virtual Reality  

    Hey !

    How are you doing ?

    Long time no see ! (unless you’re following me on Twitter!)

    Sorry for the lack of updates, 110% of my energy is going to my company ” i’m in VR ” and the product ” MiddleVR for Unity “.

    The first version was released at Laval Virtual where it received an Award ! We had (and still have) a lot of great beta testers.

    You can download MiddleVR and try it freely for 30 days !

    In the meantime I went to IEEE VR 2012 in Costa Mesa and IVR in Tokyo.

    Some interesting things are happening on the low-cost VR side: fellow VR Geek Palmer Luckey is about to release a DIY HMD kit, backed by John Carmack himself !

    I have a feeling people are looking at VR differently now, like an accessible dream.

    Or maybe it’s just me ?

    Sun 11 Dec 2011

    New immersive cubes

    Published at 21:19   Category VR Displays  

    During my “european tour” to beta test MiddleVR I’ve been able to experience a few new VR systems that have been recently built or upgraded:

    London

    - a 4 sided immersive cube in London, at the University College London :

    Will Steptoe wrote an article about how and why he used a Kinect in this Cave, using MiddleVR.

    Barcelona

    - a 4 sided immersive cube in the University of Barcelona, in Mel Slater’s Event Lab :

    Madrid

    - a 5 sided immersive cube in Madrid in the CeDInt (Research Centre for Smart Buildings and Energy Efficiency) of the Politecnica University, which has the particularity of having a ceiling !

    ( No it’s not curved, I’m just using a fisheye lens for the iPhone )

    YouTube Preview Image

    Rennes, France

    And last but not least the new immersive system of the VR4i team at the IRISA research center, named Immersia3,  HUUUUUUGE !!! 9.6m wide !! 8 projectors for the front wall, 3 for the floor, and two more for the sides soon. You can actually split it to have two immersive systems !

    YouTube Preview Image

    (the virtual rooms looks small, but remember that the perspective is only correct for the users’ eyes. So the room looks correct to him.)

    All this technology is really impressive, but what I enjoyed the most was meeting the passionate people that are actually using those VR systems.

    It’s not about the technology, it’s about what you do with it. My goal is that you focus on your application, not on the technology.

    The tests went very smoothly, MiddleVR got great feedback and everything is looking good.

    So expect the v1.0 of MiddleVR very soon !!

    Oh and I’m also very happy to report that the INSA Rennes engineering school (in Rennes also) created a VR wall for their students based on the VR-Kit Wall from the VR Geeks !!

    They called it the “µRV” (microRV) :

    It’s looking really nice (and cheap), I’m happy to see that the VR democratization is actually helping students to learn VR !

    So to conclude, a huge thank you to everyone for your warm welcome !!!

    Fri 18 Nov 2011

    Quick links #10

    Published at 23:40   Category Virtual Reality  

    Twitting requires definitely less time than blogging :)

    - B-Reel Eels: Mobile Projection Mapping Game – http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/b-reel-multiplayer-mobile-projection-mapping-game/
    - Just tested the new Sony #HMD : quite impressed! Good fov, good picture, nice sound, a bit heavy on nose, and takes time to setup on head…
    - Virtalis HCR Transforms Helicopter Training- find out how: http://www.virtalis.com/press/175/virtalis-hcr-transforms-helicopter-training.php

    More after the break …

    Read more…

    Fri 23 Sep 2011

    Body representation in VR

    Published at 17:37   Category Virtual Reality  

    This is a summary of Mel Slater‘s keynote at JVRC 2011, entitled “Body representation in Immersive Virtual Reality”.

    M. Slater started his talk by stating that the goal of VR is that people act as if what they’re experiencing is real, even though they know it’s not. Your mind accepts the illusion. He insisted that this is not your imagination, it is really a perceptual illusion.

    He briefly explained his concepts of Place Illusion and Plausibility Illusion, that are actually unified in the virtual body. The virtual body is also important in that it augments the sense of presence, and improves the estimation of size and distances in VEs (which otherwise tends to be underestimated, even though we don’t know why yet. See studies from Victoria Interrante and Betty Mohler)

    Proteus effect

    Normally, when you enter a virtual world, you enter it with the same personality, the same “you” (whatever that means). But studies have shown that if you have a different representation of your self, you behave differently ! In a recent study M. Bailenson showed that improving the “attractiveness” of your avatar will transfer as self-confidence in the real world.

    This is called the Proteus effect : appearance can transform our behaviors towards other people.

    What M. Slater is most interested in is how your appearance affects your own perception, your self-image. This is of great importance for understanding how your brain actually represents your body.

    The rubber hand illusion

    To try to understand how you can transfer your body in a VE, scientists have conducted several experiments. The most famous one is the rubber hand illusion:

    YouTube Preview Image

    M. Slater translated this experiment in VR, replacing the rubber hand with a virtual hand and showed that it works the same as the original experiment.

    One objection against that is that the user might believe that you’re actually going to hurt his real hand, so you have no way of actually knowing if the body has really been transferred or if it’s just the fear of a real injury. They’re actually working on experiments to test this which doesn’t involve real life threat. In the meantime this can be used as a good indication and indeed not a proof of transfer.

    The question is then can you transfer your whole body and not just your hand ? Also how much latency or error can be tolerated ? How close to your body does the avatar has to be ? How close to a human does it have to be ?

    He showed two examples, the first putting you in a fat avatar, and the second where your arm is stretched and you accept it roughly until it’s three times as big as usual.

    Avatars

    Some answers were found in other experiments.  In an experiment conducted in 1998, Petkova and Ehrsson used a real mannequin as an avatar :

    YouTube Preview Image

    (oh and this one is fun too : )

    YouTube Preview Image

    An approaching experiment was conducted by M. Slater in which a user is put in an uncomfortable position, both in real life and in VR. In the VE, the user is alone in a gloomy room and hears strange sounds from the next room. People reported that they were very worried for their safety :

    YouTube Preview Image

    Here’s also how to transfer your body to the body of a young girl :

    YouTube Preview Image

    (and the corresponding article in PLoS ONE)

    M. Slater noted that fear is probaby easier to trigger in VR, but that inducing happiness would be quite interesting. That’s one reason a new project called VR-Hyperspace was just created: to try to make you think your body is in a more comfortable position than it is in reality, which could have applications for plane or train travellers.

    Conclusions

    All these experiments show that virtual embodiment and transformation appears to be possible. It also shows that VR is an excellent tool for cognitive neuroscience, for example to understand how your brain but also that it broadens the possibilities for VR (raw from the presentation) :

    - Put yourself in the shoes of the other

    - Change in attitudes

    - Rehearsal and preparation for events from different standpoints

    - Changing how the body feels

    Those are really exciting possibilities. I am mostly interested to see what could be done to create empathy; experience another person’s view of a story, his life, for example as a handicapped person. Teaching social interactions could be really beneficial: a recent experiment by Benjamin Lok’s team taught new doctors to speak with a patient, and then enabled the doctor to re-live the talk from the patient’s point of view. This is really helpful to understand the impact of every word you say and how the patient receives and lives them.

    But we also have to watch out for the ethical implications of those possibilities, because it could cause even more damage than TV !

    Sun 4 Sep 2011

    Razer Hydra – Cheap magnetic tracking

    Published at 17:22   Category VR Devices, Virtual Reality  

    I just got my Razer Hydra, the new cheap (140$/€) magnetic trackers distributed by Razer, and created by Sixense.

    Magnetic tracking was the king of tracking several years ago, with Ascension and Polhemus leading the way. Magnetic tracking was expensive and widely used.

    Now it’s mostly been replaced by optical and inertial tracking (ART, Vicon, Optitrack, Wiimote, Playstation Move, Kinect…)

    My first impression is that the Razer Hydra is really nice. It comes with two tracked controllers that are identical and both look like a big Wiimote Nunchuck. Both have a joystick and several buttons, which means you don’t have to buy two packs if you want to play with a friend. The controllers are ergonomically designed for adults’ hands.

    The pack also allows you to download Portal2 for free. The game was adapted to use the Razer Hydra, and it was adapted quite well ! The movements are really smooth, and you can have some basic 3DUI interactions like moving a cube with a near 1:1 mapping to solve puzzles. It reminds me of Tumble for the PSMove.

    The SDK is quite simple to use, appart the fact that you need to point the base with both controllers to initialize the right hemisphere tracking (a typical magnetic tracking issue). I’m sure there’s a way to hardcode this once and for all if you decide that you’ll always be on the same side of the base !

    The SDK also seem to indicate that 4 players could each use two controllers ! Will it work if I buy plug more than one base ?

    It seems you can tweak or disable the internal filtering, which can be interesting to do your own filtering. The jittering is present yet really minimal. Testing with a HMD will tell if it’s acceptable.

    I haven’t measured it but the latency seems to be really low, see video :

    YouTube Preview Image

    (left hand moves the camera, right hand moves a cube)

    The two problems with magnetic tracking are 1/ if you have metal in your surrounding it will affect the magnetic field, thus your tracking and 2/ you have wires.

    The Hydra is also disturbed by metal (my desk has metal in it..)

    And why, ooooohhhh whyyyyyyy so many cables ? Why any cable at all ?

    It seems we’re back in the 90s ! Each controller is wired to the base, which is also wired to the computer. After all the efforts by other controllers to remove wires (or even the controller), that’s a big step backwards ! That said, there’s 2m of cable between the controllers and the base, and there 1.5m of cable between each controllers.

    It seems they are able to go wireless since “The Sixense wireless dev kit supports up to four controllers per base station. The Razer Hydra supports two controllers” and A 12′ diameter use zone provides ample room for full-body gaming (wireless dev kit)”.

    So maybe in the future they will lift this limitation..

    Within this range the controllers seem to perform well, but more tests would be required to know if the precision is the same if you’re further from the base. They claim a “precision to 1 mm and 1 degree” at 60 hz.

    Another small drawback is that there is no vibration in the Razer Hydra, which can always be useful for some simple tactile feedback.

    Ryan Pavlik has already reverse engineered the HID protocol and integrated the driver into VRPN.

    Conclusion

    All in all that’s certainly an improvement upon the GameTrak + Spacepoint Fusion combo, but it could have been better without those cables. The vibration feedback would also have been a nice addition.

    The range, precision, latency and ergonomic controllers (and price!) are really interesting.

    Time will tell if it’s really usable for cheap VR. Attaching one Hydra to an HMD will certainly look ridiculous, and I hope that there won’t be any magnetic disturbance near HMDs..

    I’m happy to see more and more cheap 3d tracking, and it seems some nice cheap HMDs are also coming up (Sony’s, Vuzix VR 1200).

    Sat 30 Jul 2011

    MiddleVR – Teaser 2

    Published at 10:27   Category VR Applications, Virtual Reality  

    [Update: MiddleVR for Unity is now released !! http://www.imin-vr.com]

    Some of you already know it, but I’ve been working on a new product called MiddleVR, a middleware for VR (pun intended).

    It’s a VR plugin which goal is to add VR capabilities to 3D engines.

    The VR capabilities include 3D trackers management, stereoscopy/viewports management and cluster management.

    I’ve also created a company, ” i’m in VR “, to commercialize this product. ” i’m in ” also stands for “i’m(mersion) in(teraction)”.

    Here’s an integration of MiddleVR in Unity3D :

    YouTube Preview Image

    Of course we hope to have other 3D engines supported.

    The plugin is in C++ and it has been designed to be very easy to use. It also has a C# wrapper. You could compare MiddleVR to VRJuggler or Cavelib.

    It is currently in beta phase and the v1.0 should be ready in fall.

    We’re working really hard on this, so that’s why I’m a bit less active online.

    Let me know what you think :)

    Wed 29 Jun 2011

    VR Geeks @ Laval Virtual 2011

    Published at 13:45   Category VR Applications  

    The VR Geeks (non-for-profit association) were invited to the Laval Virtual tradeshow, the largest VR tradeshow in Europe !

    (See my review here)

    (Update: by the way, we now have a Facebook page. We’re trendy. )

    Setup

    Our secretary David built a projector mount for less than 50€ :

    This allowed us to have two immersive VR setups (a VRKit-Wall and a VRKit-HMD) for less than 2000€.

    Professionnal days

    During the three pro days we had a lot of people interested to see what we could do with such a limited budget, and most people seemed to like it a lot.

    I think we really achieved our goal of proving that it’s possible to create really immersive experiences with low-cost hardware.

    We mostly showed three applications :

    - VR Asteroid, created by our fellow Ukrainians VR Geeks of VRM, which attracted a lot of people thanks to it’s beauty, simplicity and immersion.

    YouTube Preview Image

    - VR Sadistic made a good impression thanks to its innovative gameplay :

    YouTube Preview Image

    - and finally VR Escape which has more interesting 3d interactions.

    All in all, people were rather impressed by the quality of our content and by the immersion of our VR systems.

    Conference

    We also had a poster at the international conference, VRIC, about those two cheap VR systems : Low-cost and home-made immersive systems

    General public days

    Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to the general public, who often only knows about 3D games. We showed only VR Asteroid and Sadistic because they can be run without the fragile, wired, Gametrak.

    The public was impressed that we did all this for free, on our free time, and we baptised a lot of people, from the youngest to the oldest !

    Association

    The association now has around 60 members, the French mailing list has 130 members. We also got more press coverage : http://www.vrgeeks.org/in-the-news

    We also bumped into Carolina Cruz-Neira, co-inventor of the CAVE system, who like our work and accepted to be an honorary member of the VR Geeks !! (You can tell because she has the two VR Geeks badges ;)

    Conclusion

    That was a (very) intense tradeshow, but it was really worth it ! We had a lot of fun and met a lot of people!

    A big thank you to Nicolas and Sylvestre for being there the whole time, and to all the VR Geeks who participated to make this even a success !

    Thu 2 Jun 2011

    Quick Links #9

    Published at 22:26   Category Virtual Reality  

    Twitting, coding, twitting, coding …

    - Ouverture des inscriptions au master VR de Laval : http://graduateschool.paristech.fr/programme.php?id=947

    - FRAVE: Flexible Virtual Reality System – 10 3D full HD (1920×1080) plasma screens. Any video ? http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/2056946/frave_flexible_virtual_reality_system/

    - Realtime facial animation using a Kinect Hack http://t.co/vWi1Mhd via @kinecthacking

    - U.S. Army Building New Virtual Reality Training System Using Crysis 2 Engine http://t.co/PB9rG3A

    - Using #VR for rehabilitation (at EPFL) http://t.co/LEyX0Z7 via @iVEvangelist

    - Really instructive article about brightness and luminance in stereo-mode http://bit.ly/lhcYDt

    - Gestural Interfaces: A Step Backwards In Usability – http://www.jnd.org/dn.mss/gestural_interfaces_a_step_backwards_in_usability_6.html

    - Le livre blanc de la 3D stéréoscopique : http://www.itbroadcastanddigitalcinema.com/docs/LivreBlancRelief.pdf

    - YouTube Goes 3D – Gear News at IGN http://t.co/fcK2ogH via @IGN

    - Any feedback on the Infinit-Z VR system ? http://www.infinitez.com/product

    - How to Install Kinect + windows 7 32/64 bit (because sometimes it’s not that easy…) http://t.co/Lrlhl31

    - #VRPN 7.29 is out : http://www.cs.unc.edu/Research/vrpn/

    - PSA Peugeot Citroën et l’Ecole des MINES ParisTech inaugurent ce 18 mai la chaire «Robotique et Réalité Virtuelle» #VR #robotique #PSA

    - William Gibson’s Neuromancer coming to the big screen at last! http://www.vr-news.com/?p=2521

    - Re-lion suit : Immersive Suit + Large Area Tracking = Military simulation – http://t.co/Jn5QVTv

    - Virtual Classroom ADHD Media Report, featuring Skip Rizzo – http://t.co/UlRNX2M

    - Evolutions du marché des environnements de RV ou RA pour la formation en entreprise : http://prea2k30.risc.cnrs.fr/contribs/afficher/58

    - #VRGeeks paper at #LavalVirtual : Low-cost and home-made immersive systems : http://www.laval-virtual.org/2011/papers_2011//80.pdf

    - @rektide Laval Virtual papers : http://www.laval-virtual.org/#More-Digital%20Library

    - Back in the Day – Virtual & Augmented Reality 1990 http://t.co/OIhIVUs via @youtube

    - Useful: survey of IR shutterglasses sync protocols: Useful: survey of IR shutterglasses sync protocols http://bit.ly/mpQyVk

    - RT @tkoscielniak: Hôpital St Anne #vr réalité virtuelle pour traiter phobie de l’avion http://img.ly/3ZNU

    - RT @fdoganis: ZeroTouch ‘optical multi-touch force field’ makes a touchscreen out of just about anything http://t.co/Pl3hn8F via @engadget

    - Equalizer 1.0 released! – Create and deploy parallel OpenGL-based applications – http://bit.ly/kTM578

    - Motion control: Game designers must learn how to use 3D input devices – http://t.co/RzyKeI3

    - Pix4D – Turns Thousands of 2D Photos into 3D Images http://t.co/4itsfeS

    - Toyota forklift training preview http://t.co/RcglHiu via @youtube

    - My detailed review on Vuzix Wrap 920 AR: http://www.vrtifacts.com/hmds/vuzix-wrap-920-augmented-reality-hands-on/ Enjoy! :)

    - 2D Glasses – Removing one dimension can be a good thing ! http://t.co/531X9lg via @hankgreen

    - Could virtual sex be the Kinect’s killer app? (NSFW) http://t.co/X6FqRFO via @gizmag

    - Journal des jeux vidéo sur Canal+ spécial #lavalvirtual http://www.canalplus.fr/c-infos-documentaires/pid1829-le-journal-des-jeux-video.html

    - #IVR #Suit #DIY #Game Tomlucient’s First Look at the XIO Gaming VR Simulator Prototype youtube.com/watch?v=lV3j2Y…

    - Why make a big HMD ? Because : http://www.vrtifacts.com/hmds/why-big-helmets-still-rule/

    - Laval Virtual 2011 featuring #VRGeeks (see video @ 3mins 18) http://t.co/eNLoRuO via @gaetan

    - Computer Vision: Algorithms and Applications – Free eBook – http://szeliski.org/Book/

    - RT @AlainClapaud – Laval Virtual 2011 Video, featuring a bit of #VRGeeks ! http://t.co/IquoPcw via @youtube

    - Pictures from Laval Virtual 2011 ipernity: Laval Virtual 2011 by janoc – www.ipernity.com: Reshared post from … http://bit.ly/gGk0DT

    - #3DUI #locomotion #IVR IEEE VR 2011: Shadow Walking youtube.com/watch?v=WY_aWG… via @IVEvangelist

    -#VRGeeks in PC Jeux magazine – http://bit.ly/hbQleR

    - “Les débrouillards de la réalité virtuelle” #VRGeeks @LavalVirtual in Ouest-France newspaper – http://bit.ly/eiMcS9

    - Visite du salon Laval Virtual 2011 http://t.co/zBg5Wji via @AddThis

    - Laval Virtual en image : la réalité virtuelle de plus en plus… réelle http://t.co/ObJjFlR via @AddThis

    - Retour sur LavalVirtual 2011 : les dispositifs immersifs. via

    - Back from a good week-end ! 30 new members for the and maybe a local chapter in Laval soon ?

    Fri 20 May 2011

    Laval Virtual 2011

    Published at 9:23   Category Virtual Reality  

    At last, a small review of Laval Virtual 2011 !

    The tradeshow was renamed as “Virtual Reality and Converging Technologies”. Indeed, there is more and more  “converging technologies”, even though all the major actors of VR were here and had the biggest booths.

    The most interesting display for me this year was a transportable Cave by Realyz, the Mobilyz. It can be transported with a regular car, mounted in half a day, and rented on a daily basis. The problem with Caves it that you have to bring your clients inside your Cave. With the Mobilyz, the Cave comes to your client ! Of course the rent price is much much … much lower than building a Cave and you don’t have to worry about the hardware.

    Guillaume Brincin, CEO of Realyz (c) Laval Virtual

    Immersion SAS was showing a nice, huge 154″ 3D screen (3.4m wide, 1.8m high), 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixels), the TH-152UX1 by Panasonic. Yes the price is also huge. But we’ve been able to play Wipeout on it during the setup of the tradeshow :)

    This means that we could probably build a Cave which takes a lot less space than if you use projectors !

    Immersion also demonstrated their great multitouch table, which can provide a tracked and stereoscopic view for two users !

    YouTube Preview Image

    I have to say I was impressed. The double stereo (probably using one of these techniques) was working right, the immersion was good thanks to flawless tracking, and the multitouch interaction felt very natural. And of course the collaboration with another user is very interesting.

    Haption was demonstrating a new exoskeleton arm :

    (c) Laval Virtual

    Barco was demonstrating a new spherical display, the RP-360. They only brought a part of the sphere :

    (c) Christophe Gouet

    The whole system is 3m of diameter, uses 13 projectors, and the actual sphere looks like this :

    Which of course is reminiscent of the Allosphere.

    Clarte and Saint-Gobain were demonstrating an interesting simulator, to train for the projection of isolating outer layers, of houses for example. The gesture to accomplish this projection properly requires training and a lot of expensive raw material. The gesture is not very complicated, but it has to be very precise : you have to move steadily, at a given distance, at the right angle :

    YouTube Preview Image

    (c) Laval Virtual

    The simulation has realistic feedback: you can feel the flow of material coming out, feel the weight of the nozzle, have to manipulate the valves..

    By using a simulator, the company saves a lot of time and money on the material, and the training is also more efficient since you can review the gesture afterwards :

    This screen gives a detailed review of the whole session, and the trainer can explain what should be improved.

    Students of the ESIEA engineering school improved on last year’s Virtual Showcase and built a spherical one. Inspired by the VR Geeks, they used the gametrak as the head tracker to achieve a really nice, low-cost and innovative display !

    (c) Laval Virtual

    YouTube Preview Image

    (The flickering is only due to my iPhone)

    (I muted the video because we (well.. I..) were making silly sounds :)

    They were led by their teachers, Jerome Ardouin, Marc Lerenard and Frank Crison, who also created an impressive home-made, cheap workbench :

    - Frank, Jerome and Marc hiding from the camera -

    I don’t have any picture of the workbench running, but believe me, it was working really good!

    I missed some students projects using HMDs or home-made force feedback devices..

    Conclusion

    Once again this was a very intense year. And it’s the first year that I see so much media coverage of the event, especially on twitter or blogs !

    The VR gets a bit drowned in the middle of a lot of “converging technologies”, but as you can see innovation is still happening.

    There wasn’t much new usage for VR, but we definitely see a big trend in hardware democratization. Cheap 3d projectors, NVidia 3D Vision, Vuzix HMDs are gaining momentum. But Kinect was definitely the king of the year. It was released just on time so people had time to create applications with it and show them on the tradeshow.

    And I’ll make another post to talk about the VR Geeks booth ;)

    Sat 7 May 2011

    VR Minecraft

    Published at 18:18   Category Game, VR Applications  

    I wanted to see if I could adapt Minecraft to VR :

    YouTube Preview Image

    It’s not perfect yet but it’s fun to be immersed in cubes :)

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