Categories
Udacity XR (AR/VR/MR)

VR design – Google Street View for iOS 🗺

Part of my Udcaity VR course involves doing a quick/light review of a Google Cardboard app. So I figured I might as well post that here too.

VR App review – Google Street View – iOS

To call Google Street View for iOS a VR app feels like a bit of a stretch. Upon opening the app it’s immediately obvious the app isn’t designed from the ground up for a VR experience. Instead, it’s optimised for its primary audience of phone users.

On the home screen, there’s nothing to indicate there’s a VR interface option at all. The search bar at the top of the page obviously requires keyboard input, the main map, and even the tiles at the bottom of the screen, all require touch and there’s no way of switching into a VR mode from this view.

Google Street View UI
A mobile first UI

Those tiles I mentioned, that’s the easiest way to get to the VR side of things. Scrolling down the page show a seemingly endless list of Google Street View locations that can be viewed using a cardboard setup.

Selecting a tile presents a street view style UI (still not in VR mode yet). This allows the user to tap the screen and move around the environment. You’d be forgiven for missing the small icon in the top right of the interface for switching to cardboard mode. It’s the one that looks like a little cardboard headset.

IMG_4296
Not exactly obvious how to get to VR mode

If you were lucky enough to make it this far, you’ll be presented with a standard Google UI telling you to turn your device on its side and put it into your viewer.

Google VR viewer UI
Standard Google viewer info screen

Once in Cardboard mode, you’ll experience a familiar interface to many other Cardboard VR apps. One difference here is they’ve mashed VR together with a desktop browser style Street View experience. Obviously to look around you just… well… look around 😉 but navigation is done via a point and clicks teleport interface. This uses the “on ground” style direction button similar to Street View’s desktop UI. It works well and it’s fairly intuitive given the navigation follows the users’ gaze. Basically where ever you look, if you can go there, the arrow will point the way. I prefer a more obvious waypoint style interface as it makes it clearer where you can go, but that’s just a personal preference.

Google street view VR mode
Explore Machu Picchu in VR

As I said at the beginning it’s obvious this isn’t VR centric app, but then again it’s clear that isn’t the intent either. Given the nature of Cardboard being a mobile-based app, there’s an awful lot of sense in adding VR as a feature, rather than the primary UI.

Although mobile users are the primary audience, Google still does a great UI job for VR users and that’s to be commended. Really we shouldn’t expect less from an industry heavyweight like Google.

Of course, there’s always room for improvement, and this app is no exception. Street View being what it is doesn’t include any sound, it is just static 360 images after all. That being said it would be great to increase the emersion of the VR mode by including ambient environmental audio. It’s always amazing how good 3D sound can really put you in a place.

Conclusion

Ultimately Google Street VR did a good job of adding a VR mode feature to the mobile app. More could be done to improve the experience, but frankly, this is an impressive example of 3D content captured for one interface and repurposing it for another. It’s not exactly a virtual world tour vacation, but it might just encourage you to take one.

Categories
Dev XR (AR/VR/MR)

Augmented reality 📲

Ever since Pokemon Go, AR seems to have worked its way into the “parlance of our time“. Truth be told we’ve actually had loads of examples of AR apps for years now, just not combined with a cultural phenomenon like Pokemon.

I think it’s fair to say it’s highly likely there’s about to be a bit of an explosion in AR apps, at least on iOS. With the release of ARkit to developers and very impressive demos from both Weta and Apple on what can be done, it’s not difficult to imagine a new wave of apps in the works from third party developers.

In fact just oneish week out from ARkit’s beta release, developers are already starting to show some impressive progress playing with the tech. Take a look:

 

 

 

 

Categories
Dev

Git ⬆️

Git Logo


Since I


‘m learning VR it seemed a good idea to finally learn Git properly. In the past, I’d used GitHub just to play around with git conceptually. I liked it, but couldn’t really justify a paid account for private repos.

Over the past few days I’ve learned a few important things to know when you’re first getting started with Git:

  1. I’d noticed on the Udacity VR slack channel other students mentioning an alternative service called GitLab. The key feature here is private repos as part of the free account. So if you’re like me and just use git for personal use/education, take a look at GitLab.
  2. You don’t have to know the command line to use Git. There are plenty of desktop Git clients, many of them free, for all your versioning needs.
  3. There’s a couple of files to add to your repo early on. .gitignore to exclude files and .gitattributes to list off file types to store in Git LFS. As I said it pays to do this early on in a repos life. The effects of these two files only apply from the time the files are added to the repo.
  4. If you’re looking for inspiration for what to put into .gitignore, consider searching for common uses for the types of work you’re doing. For example in my case, Unity 3D projects create plenty of files on load or at runtime. So a common .gitignore for unity 3d projects would look something like this:
# =============== #
# Unity generated #
# =============== #
[Tt]emp/
[Oo]bj/
[Bb]uild
/[Bb]uilds/
/[Ll]ibrary/
sysinfo.txt
*.stackdump
/Assets/AssetStoreTools*
*.apk
*.unitypackage
 
# ===================================== #
# Visual Studio / MonoDevelop generated #
# ===================================== #
[Ee]xported[Oo]bj/
.vs/
/*.userprefs
/*.csproj
/*.pidb
*.pidb.meta
/*.suo
/*.sln*
/*.user
/*.unityproj
/*.booproj
.consulo/
/*.tmp
/*.svd
 
# ============ #
# OS generated #
# ============#

.DS_Store*
._*
.Spotlight-V100
.Trashes
Icon?
ehthumbs.db
[Tt]humbs.db
[Dd]esktop.ini
Corridor/Library/ShaderCache/
Corridor/Library/metadata/
Categories
XR (AR/VR/MR)

iOS 11 Wingnut AR SURREAL Demo

Now this is exciting stuff.

AR is only just getting started, but now it has the key, a platform.

Categories
XR (AR/VR/MR)

I ❤️ VR

I’ve been studying VR development for a few months now. As I advance in the course I’m having to choose a specialisation. I’m more interested in high immersion VR, like the stuff seen in the below video. Unfortunately, the cost of a VR setup is around $5k, which is quite prohibitive.
One of the challenges of online study over a more traditional on-campus model is having access to gear. Lucky for me I’ve managed to get some loaner hardware from my local public library. I couldn’t be more grateful as I couldn’t do this without their support. More on this later.

Categories
Uncategorized

Siri 🤖

I’ve just been reading this really interesting post on the possibility of a vastly improved Siri.

It’s funny how even Apple fans get into a panic whenever a competitor brings out something fancy. I don’t see much value in speculating on this stuff. Apple has never been open about their plans. It’s better to complain about public things that are actually weak (I’m looking at you iCloud), not stuff that might be going wrong, maybe, someday.

I’m hoping some cool stuff is in the pipeline. As much as I worry at times Apple might be dropping the ball, for the most part, they’ve not let anyone down in recent history.

I’m excited at the possibilities of WWDC 2016, but I also seriously doubt anyone’s socks will be blown off… unless Siraacusa gets his filesystem of course.