It can be a pain to upload your own Street View photos even if you have a 360-degree camera. You may have to stop to take photos every few feet, and then there’s the question of getting the spherical shots from your camera to the internet. Google thinks it can help. It’s working with hardware partners on “Street View ready” standards that will certify 360-degree cameras based on how easily you can post shots. Street View mobile ready devices let you post directly from an app, with no PC required; auto ready cameras, meanwhile, are designed for capturing high-accuracy shots from your car. VR ready cameras collect the geometry you need for (what else?) virtual reality and connected 360-degree shots, while workflow ready cameras come with publishing tools that upload directly to Street View. In at least some cases, uploading is just a matter of recording some footage (even on the move) and loading an app.
Google is making 360-degree cameras Street View-ready
Virtual reality is more immersive when you can pick up objects with your bare hands, rather than a controller or a pair of wand-style remotes. Leap Motion is one of the frontrunners in this area, having pivoted its candy bar motion-tracking sensor from desktop accessory to VR headset companion. To raise interest in the product — which you still have to attach manually to an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive — it’s developed a new piece of software called the “Interaction Engine.” Available as an add-on for Unity, it promises a more realistic experience while interacting with make-believe objects.
The big problem, Leap Motion argues, is that traditional game engines weren’t designed with human hands in mind. We move in sudden, unpredictable ways, gripping objects with different levels of proficiency. When you pick up a sponge, for instance, it should flex and compress in the places where your fingers are exerting pressure. In VR, these nuances are difficult to track and simulate. If you push a rubber ball against the floor, for instance, most physics engines will be overwhelmed and send the sphere flying in a weird, unrealistic direction. The Interaction Engine solves this issue by implementing “an alternate set of physics rules” which trigger whenever your hands are touching or “inside” a virtual object.
Leap Motion wants picking up VR objects to feel believable
Virtual reality might turn out to be more about enriching trips through history than defeating zombie hordes, according to Richard Marks of Sony’s PlayStation.
The first crop of apps for virtual reality are dominated by games, but consumers can look forward to a range of experiences hitting shelves as soon as next year, he said. Perhaps surprisingly, some of the biggest sellers could be educational, he added.
Marks, senior research engineer at PlayStation Magic Lab, said developers are targeting a broader audience beyond gamers with 360-degree video environments that allow users to explore world’s they’d never be able to experience.
Among the projects in the works are experiences from NASA and apps that immerse users in bygone eras.
“People are working on ancient Egypt, letting you visit it. Things like that I think will be a big hit for VR in the future,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Alley” on Wednesday.
Some of virtual reality’s big hits may be educational, says PlayStation engineer
Intel on Tuesday presented its virtual reality vision — a vision that mixes virtual and real worlds into a kind of merged reality — to developers attending a conference in San Francisco.
Mixing reality and unreality sometimes can be a recipe for disaster, but Intel thinks it will be a formula for success. At the center of Intel’s vision is its Project Alloy mobile headset and its cutting edge RealSense software.
The Alloy head-mounted device departs from other VR devices in that the headset housese all sensors and computing power. Other headsets either have cords that tether them to a computer or are wirelessly connected to a smartphone.
“This all-in-one form factor is something new for the VR industry,” said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner.
“It’s exciting, because you can get everything you need in one place and take it with you,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Unlike VR headsets that offer a totally immersive experience, the Alloy headset uses Intel’s RealSense software to provide you with a combination of a virtual and real experience. For example, with RealSense you not only can see objects around you but also bring them into your virtual world.
“It takes away the need for sensors in a room to know where you are, and to use controllers to manipulate the environment that you’re in,” said Strategy Analytics’ Goodman.
“I haven’t seen anyone else doing that. Everyone is using some form of controller,” he pointed out.
Intel’s Project Alloy Tosses Reality Into a Blender
Quietly, Google has been conquering the VR industry.
While most of the press has gone to the high-end headsets, such as the Rift and PS VR, Cardboard has become the world’s most successful VR platform.
Cardboard app downloads have surpassed the 50 million mark, Clay Bavor, head of VR at Google, said during Google’s I/O 2016 developers conference last month.
Those numbers are telling. Ultimately, Google has been looking to solve one of VR’s most fundamental problems, suggested Abi Mandelbaum, CEO of YouVisit.
“While high-end developers like Oculus and HTC have worked to create headsets that provide highly immersive experiences, these pieces of hardware are very much unavailable to the general population due to their price tag and additional computer power needed to support them,” he told TechNewsWorld.
As a result of its approximately $30-tall barrier to entry, Google’s Cardboard platform has been a free-for-all to some degree, and its VR experiences are among the most basic of those on the market.
While hopes were high for a standalone headset to follow Cardboard, Google decided to make VR native to the phone, noted Marxent CTO Barry Besecker.
Google is “betting that mobile will be the key to VR proliferation, vs. desktop or console-based hardware like Oculus,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Google: Dare to Daydream