VR vs AR

“But in time, these points on the spectrum will blur: we’ll have AR headsets that can augment your whole field of view, and VR headsets which can pull in photo-realistic digital representations of your environment, and devices in between which do a bit of both. Once the technology progresses to this point, the distinction between VR and AR will be far less relevant than it is today.”

Virtual and Augmented Realities: Asking the right questions and traveling the path ahead, Clay Bavot

Using Oculus VR

While at the Tech Inclusion Conference in San Francisco a few weeks ago, I watched Clouds Over Sidra: A Virtual Reality film. There was an Oculus booth there and the Oculus team was kind enough to let visitors experience VR and use the equipment they had set up. I used Oculus Rift with a Samsung smartphone.

The film was great. Really eye opening. And such an amazing way to tell a story! Virtual reality adds a whole new feeling to a story. With virtual reality, a story becomes a visual experience.

Yet, the screen was pixelated so that took the “realness” (“presence” is the the industry term) down a notch. And the lack of peripheral vision and absence of my own body or hands when I looked down brought the realness down another notch.

Still really cool technology that I am so excited about, but I definitely left feeling a little underwhelmed.

Facebook 360 & Surround 360 Camera

Facebook 360

“A stunning and captivating way for publishers and content creators to share immersive stories, places and experiences with their fans.”

“Fans can easily discover your content with a special 360 icon indicating interactivity.”

Facebook Surround 360

“A production-ready, high-quality 3D-360 camera design with accompanying automated stitching technology that seamlessly marries the video from 17 cameras, reducing post-production effort and time.”

The design specs and stitching code will be made available on GitHub in summer 2016. Works with Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear VR.

Surround 360 camera

Virtual reality field trips

I’m particularly excited for the use of virtual reality in travel and education. A recent article posted on the Wall Street Journal discusses students using virtual reality goggles in the classroom to virtually visit places like the Great Wall of China, Chichen Itza, and Tenochtitlan.

“The search giant sends kits to teachers that contain everything they need to run one of these virtual trips: ASUS smartphones, a tablet for the teacher to direct the tour and Google Cardboard viewers or Mattel View-Masters.”

Schools can sign up to have Google bring the experience to their school through the Experience Pioneer Program at no cost. But space is limited.

(Google’s Virtual Reality Brings Great Wall of China Inside School Walls)

Mark Zuckerberg on the uses of Oculus VR

Mark Zuckerberg on what he thinks the primary applications of the Oculus VR headset will be:

“The reason we’re excited in this space is the continued progression of people getting richer and richer ways to share what’s on their mind. Ten years ago it was text. Now it’s mostly visual and photos, then primarily video and we’re seeing huge growth there, but that is not the end of the line. Immersive 3D content is the obvious next thing after video.”

Interesting to think about how VR within Facebook might look. One application I can envision would be someone posting a virtual reality video (I’ll call it a “VR”) of their wedding reception and their friends can put on  their own virtual reality headset and experience it. Those without a virtual reality headset will watch it more like a traditional video.

Architects first reaction to experiencing VR

Awesome story posted on Reddit about some architects reaction to their first use of an Oculus Rift: Architects I work for just gave the best reactions I’ve ever seen in person.

“How is this already possible”, “I get it now, I’m so happy I didn’t put more bridges in the main hall”, “I can now finally see how important it is that this wall is yellow”, “I got to change that, amazing that I can finally see it”, “this opens so much to me”.

4 People in VR

A recent tweet on my twitter feed pointed out 4 influential people in VR: Nabeel Hyatt, Alex Taussig, Bilal Zuberi, and Darshan Shankar. I was curious about each of them, so did a bit of looking around. All four live in California. Here is a brief blurb on each of them:

Nabeel Hyatt

Nabeel has been in the startup space for quite some time. He is currently an investor at Spark Capital. Lives in San Francisco. He studied design and computer science. Co-founded Conduit, which was acquired by Zynga.

Alex Taussig

Currently a partner at Highland Capital. Studied physics, materials engineering, and business. Has been involved in a lot of hardware, computing, and deep tech companies.

Bilal Zuberi

Partner at Lux Capital. Studied philosophy. Big on education and students. Loves cricket.

Darshan Shankar

Has been a founder several times. Alumni of Y Combinator. Currently working on a virtual reality startup. Studied mathematics, computer science, and electric engineering. Into photography and ultimate frisbee.

Space Needle VR Halo Walk


Always cool to see the new ways that people and businesses are using virtual reality. At the Space Needle in Seattle, they will soon offer a virtual walk around the outside of the upper platform of the Space Needle. Not for those who have a fear of heights.

But then again, will a fear of heights in the non-virtual world mean an equal fear of heights in the virtual world? To be seen . . .


Adding a nose to VR reduces “simulator sickness”

virtual roller coaster gif

A study done at Purdue University’s Department of Computer Graphics Technology found that placing a nose in the lower center of a virtual reality headset’s screen can reduce the effects of simulator sickness by 13.5 percent.

Feeling a bit nauseous when experiencing virtual reality is a long-standing problem without a clear solution. This feeling is most likely caused by a conflict between what your eyes see and the motion your body feels. When your eyes see that you are moving a particular way but your body doesn’t feel the same thing, your body can get a bit annoyed – causing you to feel a bit odd as a result. Since the “seeing” is more and more realistic with virtual reality, this feeling is more common with virtual reality as opposed to a realistic video game played on a t.v.

Now if they can just get the nose shading just right . . .



Virtually Bike Around the World

widerun bike

Widerun offers an in home bicycle exercise stand that ties in with a VR headset giving the rider an immersive virtual bicycling experience. They also have a marketplace where you can access additional locations to virtually train in.

Virtual Reality University Tours

SonyBrook_VirtualReality campus tour

Campus tours using Virtual Reality. A clear application for virtual reality. Cool concept. I would have used this when I was applying to various universities. This particular example is from Stony Brook University in New York. Prospective students can use a headset to navigate a photo tour of the campus.


Oculus Rift Music Album


Interesting to consider releasing an album via the Oculus Rift. Could be some cool stuff there.

“Can you see releasing an album for Oculus Rift? Maybe people could play along on virtual instruments.

Yes and no. Andrew and I have had some conversations. When I did the app album, it was all based on touch screens and the fact that I knew I could [create a virtual] music school, a dream since my childhood. I only did that album because I felt like I had content that made sense, that could relate to the technology. It can’t just be working with the gadget for the sake of the gadget. But also it’s about budgets. You can do apps cheaply. Apps was kind of punk, actually. It was like starting a punk band again. Filming for Oculus Rift is not.”

Bjork on Keeping “Vulnicura” off Spotify: “It’s about respect, you know?” by Rob Brunner