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The ghost howls

A blog of virtual reality, startup and stuff

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augmented reality

VR mega update: Facebook Spaces, Facebook AR, Google Earth & Microsoft Headsets

After Easter weekend, we were all relaxed, digesting all chocolate eggs we have eaten. When, suddenly, Tuesday came and gave us a hard wake up with a bazillion of virtual reality news! Here you are a small digest if you missed something!

Facebook Spaces

At F8 conference, Facebook has announced Spaces, its social VR environment.

So, what is Spaces? Spaces is that cool application that Facebook showcased at Oculus Connect 3 …the one we believed it was pure fluff.

Well, it seems that it is not fluff… since now it has been released! With Spaces you will be able to cartoonize yourself and then meet all your friends in VR! Continue reading “VR mega update: Facebook Spaces, Facebook AR, Google Earth & Microsoft Headsets”

Considerations about using HoloLens (or any other AR glass) inside an exhibition

In a previous post I highlighted the problems that current generation of augmented reality headsets have (if you haven’t read it, read it!). Today I want to show you the problems that can happen while showcasing an augmented reality application in an exhibition or such.

On Friday I went to Novara to test a project I’ve been doing with Politechnic of Turin professor Andrea Bottino (and his right wing Francesco Strada) involving the use of HoloLens for medical applications. Purpose of the test was to make doctors to try our solution and make them express feedback. No-one of them had ever tried HoloLens and some of them had even no idea about what HoloLens were… so they were the ideal people to test our super-nerd stuff.

Feedback about our solution has been great, but this is not the topic of this post… (but a good reason to be happy)

Accurate representation of me after Friday demo (Image by KnowYourMeme)

Here I want to talk you about problems I had during the test… and how I tried to address them. It has been the first time that I’ve used HoloLens inside a public showcase with non-technical people, so I think it’s interesting to tell you all the problems I had. Continue reading “Considerations about using HoloLens (or any other AR glass) inside an exhibition”

Sketchup Viewer for HoloLens review

Today I felt super-rich. It has been like the moment when I had the opportunity to take a lap inside a wonderful red Ferrari car thanks to EIA accelerator. I felt rich for some minutes and I looked at the other super-poor people envying me, like Paris Hilton looks at us standard people… and then after 3 minutes I was again Tony, the average poor guy :(. Today’s richness was due to the fact that I’ve been able to try Sketchup Viewer for HoloLens. Marketplace cost $1499,99.

I spent $0, of course. Thanks to epic university teacher Andrea Bottino (of Politechnic of Turin) and his right-wing Francesco Strada, I had a chance to try it and feel like Uncle Scrooge for some minutes. In ten minutes I’ve tried a $1500 app on a $3000 device: I’m like a gold-digger.

Anyway, I’m here to write my impressions about it. Continue reading “Sketchup Viewer for HoloLens review”

Magic Xperience and the magic of AR chocolate

On Saturday I went to a confectionery next my house to buy some sweet stuff… it’s a classical Italian pastry shop: little, owned by a family, traditional and with super-tasty stuff all over the place. Sometimes it’s just relaxing to stay in such old-school places, smell the scent of food and forget all the *R devices I use everyday (eating donuts in Job Simulator is great, but it doesn’t fill my stomach… :D).

Suddenly I noticed a little cardbox with tiny chocolate tables with cute pictures on them… I looked at the price… and it was €13! Something like 4x the expected value… what the heck? Well, I talked with the girl serving me and I discovered that this was not simple chocolate, it was augmented reality chocolate! What the… mixed reality technologies follow me everywhere!

I got curious about this and had a little talk with her, but of course talking about feature recognition with her was not a choice. Anyway, I tried to explain her what augmented reality is in a very simple way and she told me that she started selling this magical chocolate one or two months ago and that, despite the price, it was selling really well. Continue reading “Magic Xperience and the magic of AR chocolate”

Microsoft virtual reality headsets are becoming real thanks to Acer

I have already dedicated some articles about the Microsoft virtual reality headsets because I’m very curious about them. Microsoft promised these cheap VR headsets that works out of the box with Windows 10 and that provide positional tracking without external cameras, claiming that they’re even better than Oculus or Vive! In January they revealed them, but until yesterday no one had ever tried them.

At GDC 2017, finally, the first Windows 10 VR headset has been presented: it is made by Acer and offers all characteristics that Microsoft has promised: good graphical quality, inside-out tracking and cheap price ($299).

Some selected journalists have been able to try the prototype (but they couldn’t shoot photos or videos, damn!) and the feedbacks are:

  • It’s a bit like PSVR;
  • It is tethered;
  • It is not comfortable;
  • Framerate is still 60fps;
  • Blurred graphics;
  • Seldomly the positional tracking has glitches;
  • The experience sometimes crashes;
  • The controller is a gamepad.
  • It has flip-up display: meaning you can flip up the hmd just to return to the real world and flip it down again to go virtual (cool!);
  • It has inside-out tracking, so it doesn’t require external cameras;

Continue reading “Microsoft virtual reality headsets are becoming real thanks to Acer”

Microsoft HoloLens plans make me think about AR/VR product cycles

Yesterday there haven’t been many interesting news about the VR world, but my startup buddy Gianni sent me a super-interesting link that made me think a lot.

The article I’m talking about is this one: it talks about Microsoft skipping HoloLens v2 developments to concentrate directly on version v3. The news is far from being official, but the author talks about some unspecified “sources” confirming this.

So, HoloLens v1 is two years old, but we won’t see a restyling soon: we’ll have to wait for 2019 to have a super-incredible HoloLens v3. Why Microsoft is doing this? According to what the article says and mixing it with what I think, the reasons are: Continue reading “Microsoft HoloLens plans make me think about AR/VR product cycles”

HoloLens problems show us that AR is still not ready for the mass market

HoloLens is maybe the best AR glass on the market nowadays and I had the pleasure to try it some months ago and to write an enthusiastic review about it. I was delighted by its capabilities, potentials and the incredible spatial positioning of its “holograms” (hate this term, since they’re not holograms, just virtual objects you see through a lens, but… whatever).

In the last month I had the pleasure to work in a HoloLens project, so I spent some days developing for it using Unity. It’s great, but as within a long term relationships living with your partner you discover a lot of hidden problems… working with HoloLens I started discovering lots of defects it has. Continue reading “HoloLens problems show us that AR is still not ready for the mass market”

Oculus is interested in Augmented Reality?

Just a little thought about today news that I found most interesting: Oculus is seriously starting an augmented reality division.

The news is quite strange because Oculus is a virtual reality company and while lots of people still confuse the two, AR and VR are two pretty different technologies. Furthermore, no one of the other big players of virtual reality is experimenting on AR, too (or, at least, we don’t know it). Vice versa, big players in AR at the moment are names like Microsoft, Meta, Epson and the super vaporous Magic Leap and no one of these names is involved in VR (except from Microsoft, to be honest). Even Apple seems more interested in AR and to have excluded VR from its business. It is like the companies are investing in one technology or the other at the moment, due to the fact that these technologies are so innovative that they require huge investments in R&D, devices, marketing, contents and other stuff and so there are no enough resources for both. But Oculus now seems interested in AR, too. Continue reading “Oculus is interested in Augmented Reality?”

HoloLens scene initialization

Yesterday I started collaborating in a little project that uses HoloLens (with Andrea… do you remember the guy of presence vs immersion article?) and as every normal guy working with this new device, I started looking at Microsoft Academy videos and articles.

First thing I discovered is that HoloLens requires you to change lots of settings in scene and in build parameters and this is soooooo boring. So I’ve said to myself “why can’t I write an editor script and do all this stuff automatically? I’ve already made something similar for our multi-build setup of ImmotionRoom, so it is something that I know how to do in few minutes”. Two hours of scripting later I discovered that maybe I over-estimated my capabilities (and the documentation of Unity Editor classes). And, even worse, I discovered that this feature is already present in that swiss knife that lies under the name of HoloToolKit (if you develop for HoloLens in Unity and you don’t use the HoloToolKit, you’re just a fool) 😀

Total facepalm (image by knowyourmeme.com)

Continue reading “HoloLens scene initialization”

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