In 2016 I became a gadget freak. I want it all! It's always good to underscore such statement by saying, you know, I need all that stuff for our projects. But deep inside, I must confess, I'm aware that probably even without the professional need I would still order most of this stuff. But let's stay professional - I strongly believe that in 3D visualisation and industries close to our playground - architecture, heritage visualisation and gaming the following trends will shape the future. So, here goes my list of things to follow - vol.1.
Let's say it loud and clear. Virtual Reality is shockingly good and very adaptive but it's still a bit of a mess to use. The most impressive headset - HTC Vive - is so good but it's also frustrating. Cables, cables and more cables. That's why i've greeted the news about the wireless TPcast addon with such a joy.
Another thing that comes out into the light with cables gone is the increased mobility. Days when You sat with the headset wired to your desk are finally fading away. You can now stand up, bow, walk in a defined space and manipulate controllers. HTC Vive led the way here and Oculus Rift now joined with touch controllers. I know, I know - Vive had it from the start but seriously with all the cables it was not ideal.
This space was reserved for high budget movie industry but things have changed. Incredible hardware has emerged and suppliers such as Perception Neuron, Optitrack and Leap Motion all offer customer-ready sets. We're talking about the technology that allows to map wide room or outdoor areas and walk in the headset mounted on the head. Or one that allows to map your fingers in 3d while wearing the headset. Eyetracking, facetracking, bodytracking etc. You can finally walk into the virtual room, grab the chair or the couch and rearrange it (yup, no weight problem here:), touch the wall to change it's paint etc. This is one of the aspects of our Emb3d platform.
Motion tracking combined with the HMD can produce really cool results. It's not just immersive storytelling what's at stake here. I can see a lot of usecases for training, simulation and education purposes.
Google entering the VR scene
What it means for the rest of us is not entirely clear yet but so far I can see the pieces of the puzzle that may focus in the next-generation headset. Let's look at the facts - first we had the Cardboard that utilized Android for the mobile VR experience. Now we have the furry Daydream but it's still the low-spec mobile. In my opinion their next step is going to be the VR high-spec headset utilizing the Tango sensor and the Android OS. What is Tango? It makes the Lenovo Phab tablet and the Qualcomm see the surroudings using the laser scanning.
Yup, You heard me. I believe the next great headset will be the the high-spec, android-based VR capable of scanning the surroundings including the people wearing other headsets. Combined with the eyetracking technology You will finally see the nervous ticking of your live oponent.
Summing up the Virtual Reality section: we're very close to free-roam, body-tracking multiplayer room-scale VR that may have tremendous uses in architecture for group design reviews. In heritage it will immerse visitors in large scenes and will allow specialists to walk remotely and consult the african excavation site without leaving their offices. In gaming... well, You saw the movie above :)
Offline rendering is so big and it will stay. But it's the realtime rendering that will shape the future of the industry. The power of the game engines combined with their flexibility and crossplatform, open structure gives them bleeding edge over static renders. Mixed with Virtual, augmented and mixed reality this gives us tools that can boost and speed up decision processes across projects dramatically. Sending clients jpegs and movies on Youtube over mail is just not enough. Immersion offered by VR combined with the power of engines such as Unreal and CryEngine gave architects powerful tools to consider in their next project. Learning curve poses a problem but we're working on that in Emb3d platform.
We all heard about Matterport and how it utilises scanning to grab walkthroughs in real estate. GeoCV is also a company to follow. They both utilize the technology used in Google Project Tango scanners mentioned above. While this handheld scanning methodology is more comfortable and faster than stationary scanning it still lacks a bit of the quality. In my opinion this will very soon change and even now with a bit of practice the results can be very promising. We use project tango in two different industry cases. In architecture it can scan the place and build the floorplans or match the project with the real space like we do in Emb3d. In archeology it may help with the documentation in 3d and further work on the findings in VR. This is how we are implementing this technology in our Musee platform.
That's it for now. This all makes our work so interesting. Keep an eye out on our detailed articles on the above subjects.
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