In the spirit of the Holidays, Jack and Amr created a holiday flavored demo of the famous Eames House. To add diversity to the project, we built it for Android Google Cardboard users, but don't worry if you lack a suitable HMD; you can check out the non-VR links at the bottom of this post.
The Oculus Rift engages your head, but what engages your body? The trouble with such an immersive VR headset is that conventional input methods seem to fall flat. Who wants their eyes exploring virtual reality while your hands stay behind in the real world, tethered to the mouse and keyboard? It’s like going on a safari where you’re not allowed to leave the Jeep. In other words, no fun. At Iris, we continue to iterate through input paradigms until we find the perfect way to navigate a 3D space without assuming prior experience with 3D navigation, like video games. It’s been a challenge to find a device that is simple to use but complex enough to integrate into the full functionality of our software; however, we may have found a happy medium in the Myo armband by Thalmic Labs. The Myo fits around your lower arm just below your elbow, and uses electrical sensors to detect what your muscles are doing (and, by extension, what your fingers are doing). Check out a demonstration here.
On the top floor of a beautifully renovated old mill building building in Cambridge, the mere mention of the term virtual reality conjures up images of devices more closely resembling Darth Vader’s helmet than a pair of ski goggles or sunglasses in the minds of most of the architects in the room. The skeptical faces of those around the conference table increasingly show gleams of intrigue as my colleague Shane plugs the Oculus Rift into his computer and pulls up a model in SketchUp or Revit. Without too much introduction, he shows off the model on the 2D screen and then invites someone to sit in the “driver’s seat.” Immediately after donning the pre-release virtual reality headset hardware, the first tester reaches out to touch one of the walls, points at a rafter, a skylight, and remarks about all of the interesting architectural features overhead. I love witnessing this reaction to the experience because it means that the user is fully immersed, walking through a specially realistic representation of the digital model that they just saw on screen. This is how most of our presentations go, to industry professionals and friends alike, at IrisVR. There is nothing quite like stepping out of reality and into a world that only existed in your mind or on a screen moments prior. One architect even stood up after trying a demonstration of the IrisVR beta software and placed his hand over his heart stating that he felt as though he had just walked into a building that he designed for the first time. In the case of this passionate architect and designer, the joy of experiencing his own creation made him feel “butterflies in his stomach.” I was quick to joke that virtual reality sometimes causes motion sickness, especially when using today’s early hardware models that have not yet been perfected. At the same time, the current technology is good enough to show the promise of virtual reality (VR) in the not-so-distant future.