Studio X VR Headset Hygiene Protocols

To ensure the safety of our patrons and staff, we take the following steps.

  1. We apply a nanotechnology spray solution to the fabric (cloth, Velcro, or any moisture-permeable surface) of each headset after unboxing it. We reapply the spray every three months as suggested.
  2. Each headset has its own silicone face shield as an additional health and safety measure. This mask also helps to the protect the fabric and prevent skin irritation.
  3. We sanitize the headset after each use using a CleanBox UV Disinfecting Box. The UV box uses powerful UVC lights to sterilize every inch of the headsets in just 60 seconds.
  4. We wipe the controllers with disinfectant wipes.

We ask patrons if they are experiencing any symptoms of cold, like a sore throat, coughing, or sinus issues to please not use the equipment.

This Month in XR: August Summary Post

This Month in XR is Studio X’s YouTube channel. One episode will be uploaded at the end of each month to give you a closer look into some of the cool things that are going on in the world of XR. The findings we share will be different each month and can range from exciting XR developments in higher ed to new VR games to information about software updates.

This post is a summary of July’s This Month in XR vlog. For full content, see the video here!

Facebook Researchers Show “Reverse Passthrough” VR Prototype for Eye-Contact Outside the Headset
Link to Original Article

When you put yourself into a VR headset, you are separating yourself from the world around you. Those around you no longer know who or what you are looking at. Facebook took initiative from this problem and is now in the process of creating their all-new “Reverse Passthrough” VR prototype that would allow people to see the users’ eyes while they are in the headset. By making use of light-field displays mounted on the outside of a VR headset, the system aims to show a representation of the users’ eyes that is both depth and direction accurate.

An additional article by facebook is linked below for more detail about their research. https://research.fb.com/blog/2021/08/display-systems-research-reverse-passthrough-vr/

As of right now, this is all still very experimental and there is no word on a release date.

Niantic Acquires 3D Scanning App Scaniverse
Link to Original Article

Niantic announced that they acquired Scaniverse, an app for iPhones and iPads that can scan objects and environments in high-resolution 3D. The app will not be removed from the App Store and will continue to function as a standalone app. Niantic removed the yearly subscription feature to make some of the features, such as higher-resolution processing and exporting models to 3D software free.

How HTC Vive Accidentally Created Mo-Cap Tech 10 Times Cheaper Than the Industry Standard
Link to Original Article

When the HTC Vive was initially released, motion capture trackers only existed in the controllers to capture basic hand movements, as is standard in most VR headsets. In March of 2021, they released the third edition of the Vive Tracker ecosystem and the Vive Facial Tracker. The film industry has been looking at and using these technologies for their production, as the trackers can be placed to hands, feet, and the waist to fully encapsulate the range of human motion. Another fun usage of the Technology was by the newly created International Dance Association, the first-ever VR Dance community, who use the technology to hold dance battles in VR Chat.

Full Body VR Controller AXIS Launches Kickstarter
Link to Original Article

The concept of virtual Taekwondo was introduced several months ago, using Singapore-based tech company Refract Technologies’ full-body motion capture system AXIS. AXIS Stands for Active XR Interface System. On August 18th, the Company launched an official Kickstarter campaign for its wireless full-body controller. The technology is so realistic that it even gained the attention of the World Taekwondo Federation who is now working alongside the company to organize an official virtual sports program.

INSIDE FACEBOOK’S METAVERSE FOR WORK
Link to Orignal Article

Facebook is in the process of creating a new app for the Oculus Quest called Horizon Workrooms. Its features allow up to 16 people in VR and 34 people over video call to interact in the same space. A desktop companion app can allow you to share your computer screen while you are in VR and allow it to appear in the Virtual Space. A concern states that some of the processes are clunky, such as getting into the workroom, and even some of its features like the whiteboard and personal drawing pad. Workrooms is still under development, however, so keep a lookout for it on the Horizon.

XR@UR

Studio X Space Opening Soon!

Studio X, the University of Rochester’s Hub for Extended Reality Technology will be opening later this month! The space will be located on the first floor of Carlson Library. Studio X will foster a community of cross-disciplinary collaboration, exploration, and peer-to-peer learning that lowers barriers to entry, inspires experimentation, and drives innovative research and teaching in immersive technologies.

Once the space opens, students will have access to a wide range of XR technologies such as the Oculus Quest 2, Microsoft HoloLens, 360 Cameras, 360 Audio Recorders, High-end computers, and more. Most of the technologies the space has to offer can either be used in the space or rented out for several days at a time. In addition to technologies, we will also begin running a variety of workshops to teach the University community about XR technologies. These workshops will include things like an Introduction to XR as a whole, Intro to Blender, Intro to Unity, and more to help people get started on their innovative journeys.

Ayiana Crabtree
Ayiana Crabtree

Karp Library Fellow, XR Research

This Month in XR: July Summary Post

This Month in XR is Studio X’s YouTube channel. One episode will be uploaded at the end of each month to give you a closer look into some of the cool things that are going on in the world of XR. The findings we share will be different each month and can range from exciting XR developments in higher ed to new VR games to information about software updates.

This post is a summary of July’s This Month in XR vlog. For full content, see the video here!

T-REX snags grant to launch new ‘extended reality’ facility
Link to Original Article

An innovative and entrepreneur development facility in St. Louis Missouri, T-REX, received a grant to launch a new facility that focuses primarily on advancing innovation in the field of XR technologies.
The assistant secretary of commerce for economic development said that the grant will allow their company to “align academic, government and industry partners to develop new XR technologies, foster remote learning, and create opportunities for business events designed to spur economic growth in the industry.”
The new lab will provide technological equipment, resources, and expertise to those wanting to innovate in the AR and VR fields.

GIGXR Awarded Phase II SBIR Contract to Develop Extended Reality (XR) Simulation Training for Air Force Academy
Link to Original Article

GIGXR, a provider of immersive learning solutions for leading universities and medical systems around the world, received a Phase 2 Small Business Innovative Research contract to develop XR simulations for the Air Force Academy.
The application, dubbed HoloChem, will use mixed reality to engage students while also taking them through the base principles of learning in a true chemistry lab.

How Astronauts Are Using VR & AR Aboard The ISS
Link to Original Article

Astronauts are using a  variety of XR technologies to help assist in a range of tasks such as maintenance, science experiments, and other various jobs on the ISS. One flight engineer used AR technology through a modified version of the Microsoft HoloLens to research “fundamental and quantum physics at extremely low temperatures.”
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency utilizes VR technology to conduct physics tests to see how astronauts visually translate motion in microgravity.

Oculus’ New Experimental API Blends Virtual Reality With Your Real-World Surroundings
Link to Original Article

Facebook has begun working with a new application called Passthrough API that will allow Oculus Quest 2 users to play some MR games. The software allows applications on the headset to blend reality with the games, while also allowing the player to toggle the opacity of the MR they are experiencing.
Facebook has made it clear that the Passthrough API will not have access, view, or store any images of your physical environment, for the safety of the user.

Immersive Tech Brings the Tokyo Olympics To Life At Home
Link to Original Article

As we are still seeing effects of the pandemic, most people were unable to travel to see the Olympics. the NBC Olympics VR app will be broadcasting several events live using stereoscopic 360 to make people feel as if they are really there.
Event organizers are also working with True View from Intel to allow viewers to experience events from any angle they wish. Those who are able to attend in person have the option of AR headsets for the swimming events that broadcast detailed race information during certain competitions.

Virtual Reality Game Improves Patient Stillness for MRI
Link to Original Article

Matthew David Hall and the Reimagine Well team creates a pre-MRI VR game that is used to get patients used to the stimuli that an MRI presents. The three levels get progressively harder and longer, progressing from black and white to color images. The patient’s goal is to keep the crosshairs within the bounds of the circle.
The game not only helps patients get accustomed to the noises of the MRI, but also allows the doctors to gauge how long a patient will be able to stay still for during the exam.

Ayiana Crabtree
Ayiana Crabtree

Karp Library Fellow, XR Research

My Journey With Blender and Some Tutorials to Get You Started!

3D model of a UR quad fox.

3D modeling can seem like something for just the professionals with fancy equipment, expensive programs, and hours upon hours of time. What if I told you that you could do 3D modeling using Blender on your own laptop, for free, and create a starter project in under an hour? Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software tool set used for creating a wide variety of things. With the models you create in Blender, you could go on to create animated films, 3D printed models, computer games, and even things in virtual reality.

I started learning Blender in Fall of 2020 through a class offered at the University. As a Creative Writing major, I never would have guessed that I would one day learn to use a 3D modeling software. After being so used to creating things with words on paper and making the occasional doodle with pen on paper, the idea of creating in 3D seemed so foreign to me. I was initially taking the class to fill a requirement but realized that I enjoyed using Blender and 3D modeling quite a bit. I already enjoyed drawing and doing other forms of digital art, so Blender soon began to feel like the next natural progression for me once I was introduced to the software.

After taking the class and getting the hang of things, I proceeded to remove it from my computer’s home screen and didn’t think about it again. The class had been stressful, and I thought that I would never need to use the program again. When the Spring rolled around, however, I got my position at Studio X. As part of my training, I was asked to attend one of Studio X’s workshops to better understand our programming goals and approach to engaging new XR users. I chose to attend one on Blender, since I was at least familiar with the software. During this workshop, I created a frog:

This frog helped me become reinterested in Blender, and before I knew it, I was making all sorts of little projects in my free time. I realized that Blender was more fun than the class had let me realize, as in Blender, you can create anything you can imagine! Now I hope to inspire others to introduce themselves to the software so they can get creative in their free time.

If you are interested in getting started with Blender, you’re in the right place. This article provides 6 beginner blender tutorials ranging from easy difficulty for those getting started for the very first time, to a harder difficulty for those who want a challenge or are working their way through this list!

Tips to keep in mind as we go:

  • When rendering your final projects, most of the tutorials recommend that you use Cycles. If you are doing this tutorial on a high-end desktop computer or at an innovation station in Studio X, that should be ok. If you are working from your own laptop, however, I would recommend sticking to Eevee, unless you have a super amazing laptop, otherwise you’ll be sitting there for hours waiting for it to render!
  • Most but not all of these tutorials have varying versions of shortcut viewer in either the left- or right-hand bottom corner of the blender viewport. Shortcut viewer allows you to see which buttons the instructor is pressing in case they forget to mention it.
  • The software may feel overwhelming, but as long as you remember to pause the video to follow along with the steps, it becomes quite manageable!

Easy

Blender 3D – Easy Lowpoly Car – Beginners Tutorial

This tutorial is great for people who are wanting to get an easy start in Blender. I was able to complete this tutorial in under an hour, and this does include all the times I paused to follow along. A few things that you might find a little hard to follow along with are the many shortcuts he uses but doesn’t take all that long to explain.

Adding Objects to the scene. He uses the shortcut Shift + A. If you find yourself forgetting this or would rather do it the long-handed way, you can instead go to the top left-hand corner of the screen where you will find the “Add” button. Hover over this and you will see the same menu.

Moving objects along an axis after duplication. This happened first when he is duplicating the wheels, and the command is Shift + D to duplicate. I was initially struggling with the “then press Y to move along the Y-axis, as what he doesn’t mention is that you release the “Shift + D” before hitting “Y.”

Other Notes to keep in mind:
I was having a little trouble with my Blender not showing me the colours that I was applying to my car, so to check, you can render out the image by going to the top left-hand corner and hovering over “Render” then selecting “Render image.” You may have to reposition the camera before this, though, as the rendering comes from what the camera sees [he explains cameras and positioning starting around 19:50]. The shortcut for rendering is F12.

The first part of the video [0:00-14:00] is all about the modeling, from [14:00-18:51] is all about the coloration of the car. From [18:51-end] he is playing around with the scene and lighting.

Here is the outcome I got when following along with the tutorial!

[2.8] Blender Tutorial: Simple Animation For Beginners

This tutorial provides the simplest introduction to animation that I’ve seen, and I think that it’s perfect for those just getting started. The instructor keeps to using very simple shapes, nothing more than several cubes and a plane. He doesn’t have the shortcut viewer on, but he explains everything step-by-step in a super easy-to-follow fashion. When something might be a little confusing, text appears on the screen with the instructions of what buttons to click. There were only a few instances in which I had to pause and squint at the screen to see which tab he’d clicked into. I was able to complete this tutorial in under 30 minutes, so it’s great if you only have a little bit of time!

Here is my animation result!


Medium

Rig your Own Ghost in Blender 3D for Halloween – EASY

This tutorial leans a little more to the medium-easy side. I would say that it’s pretty good overall, though the instructor goes through the steps quite fast and I found myself pausing a lot more often than I was in the “easy” tutorials. There are a few things he neglects to explain, so here are some of the things that stuck out to me the most!

[5:57] He magically transitions from Edit Mode to having the object be a pretty rainbow gradient. What he actually does is switch from Edit Mode to Weight Paint mode. He was able to tab into the mode due to his own personal settings, but here’s how you can do it: Go to the Upper left-hand corner of the screen to where you will likely see either “Object” or “Edit” mode. If you click this drop-down menu, you will see “Weight Paint” as an option.

[6:59] When pinning the ghost to the circle, make sure you click the ghost, then the circle, then ctrl +P (Order matters for a lot of things in blender!)

[7:10] When he says he’s going to grab the keyframe, there’s a small bar at the bottom of the screen in the center that has a little circle button (next to the play buttons). That button will grab a keyframe. You can also use the shortcut “I” which will prompt you to select which type of keyframe. For the purposes of this tutorial, just select “Location” in addition. When he moves the ghost over to pin a second keyframe, notice that you have to move the time bar across the bottom first, before moving the circle, otherwise it will just override the previous keyframe.

Note! At around timestamp 10:17,  I the video gets a little harder. You have completed the ghost’s body at this point, but the video then moves onto texture painting. Though the video itself has only run for about 10 minutes by this point, a beginner should stop here as this part took me about 40ish minutes to complete.

Here is the outcome of my ghost! (I chose to simply colour in two squares for the eyes):


Hard

Low Poly Island | Beginner | Blender 2.8 Tutorial

Note: Studio X does not endorse the sponsor of the video!

This tutorial does a good job of explaining each step of the process. the reason I would rate it a bit harder is because of the use of Nodes for textures, which can be tricky to follow along with at times. If you want the tutorial to remain at more of a beginner level, I would recommend stopping around timestamp 19:30, as at this point you have an island with the water and everything is already shaded. From 19:30 onwards, he begins to add more details like trees to the island. Going past 19:30 would also probably put you well past an hour for time of work. I looked at the comment section below the video and saw many people saying that the entire tutorial took them between 4-5 hours. I was able to do the island and the water alone  (with shading) in about 1 hour.

Things that might be confusing explained:

If you have the latest version of blender, set the resolution in the Dynotypo to 0.5 instead of 6! This is the new setting for low poly. If you put it to 6, it will be way too smooth!

10:34- Make sure you set the sun strength to something around 5-10! This is equivalent to the energy.

13:15 – He says to look at the blend settings. If you have a more up to date version of Blender, you will have to open the settings tab on the node editor.

14:21 – After you’ve selected “vertex paint” go to the shader editor window (where the nodes are). You should have already added a base material. Click Shift + A and then search for “Vertex colors” and add that. Connect the Yellow color dot to the base color yellow dot (that’s on the large green material node). Then change the color to the color name (default is Col, so select that). Then your color should start appearing. NOTE: He explains this later around 15:50, but you will have already completed it as the different versions work slightly different.

Here is my result!

Create Satisfying 3D Animations | Easy Blender Tutorial

Studio X does not endorse the sponsor of the video!

This tutorial is simple, though a little confusing to follow along. There are some times at which I struggled a bit to follow along with what he was saying (there was a lot of pausing and restarting). Up until he starts adding the textures, a strong-willed beginner could complete this tutorial. Once he gets to the textures around timestamp 8:00, however, I might wait until you know a little more about Blender before you tackle that part! The only instance I was completely baffled was at timestamp 3:25. In order to extrude in the way he does, you have to hit “E” and then “S” for the scaled extrusion.

Here is my result!


Conclusion

My journey through learning Blender may be different from yours, but there’s no doubt that you’ll be able to get the hang of it in no time! You don’t need an entire semester-long class to learn to master the basics of Blender thanks to the many resources available on the internet. As long as you have a computer, at least an hour of time, and the motivation to create, I’m sure you will power through these beginner instructions.

As I followed through these tutorials for myself, I began relearning the things I had forgotten from the class that seemed to have happened so long ago. Now, I’m working to improve my skills a little bit every week. With my increasing experience with the software, I am hoping to lead an Advanced Blender workshop for those daring to take on the challenge! I definitely wouldn’t call myself an expert at the software, but I’m certainly more confident than I was when I started. You too could learn these skills, and maybe even one day become a Blender master!

To download Blender for yourself, visit their website! https://www.blender.org/download/

Ayiana Crabtree
Ayiana Crabtree

Karp Library Fellow, XR Research

Studio X Construction Updates

Studio X under construction.

After being a concept in our minds for so long, Studio X’s physical space is finally beginning to come to life! Starting the week after graduation, construction started on the first floor of Carlson. Some of our staff had the opportunity to visit the space and see how the progress is coming along. We were amazed by how large the space felt after staring at the rendering provided by our architects, CannonDesign for over a year. The journey has been documented on the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries Instagram: rclibraries.

Studio X under construction.
View of Studio X from the Landing Pad and Creativity Station area
Studio X under construction.
Standing in the Salon looking towards the Innovation Suite and Medium Collaboration Room
Studio X under construction.
Dry wall progress in the Learning Hub
Studio X under construction.
Medium Collaboration Room starting to take shape

In anticipation of our soft opening in the fall, our team has been busy planning workshops, drafting policies, and ordering and organizing equipment.

A person working to process a stack of VR headsets.
Tagging each headset and adding them to our equipment tracking system

Ten of these headsets will be available for use within Studio X, while the other 10 will be lendable for patrons to take outside of the library. We also received five Insta 360 One X2 360 cameras, which are versatile beginner-friendly cameras. You can also watch us unbox one of the Oculus Quests!

An open case with an Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset in it.
An Oculus Quest 2 headset, unboxed, labeled, added to our equipment tracking system, and organized in its carrying case
a stack of headsets in their cases.
Preparing the Oculus Quest 2 headsets for outside lending

To stay up to date on the latest and greatest from Studio X, be sure to stay connected with us on social media!
Follow us on Instagram and Twitter
Join our Discord server
Subscribe to our Mailing List for our biannual newsletter

Ayiana Crabtree
Ayiana Crabtree

Karp Library Fellow, XR Research

6 AR Apps to Get You into Augmented Reality

iPhone screenshot of a collection of augmented reality apps.

Augmented reality (AR) is an overlay of computer-generated images onto the real world. AR uses our existing reality as the basis of the experience, and with the help of a device, this creates an interactive experience for users. AR has snuck into mainstream media right under everyone’s noses. However, some people still feel intimidated by the idea of AR technology! If you think you’re new to AR and are looking for some experiences to try, here are some free apps to get you started!

Travel/Adventure: Pokémon Go

All increased spawns, encounters, and event raids and bonuses for Pokémon  Go's 5th Anniversary Event | Dot Esports
Image Link

Pokémon Go is the game that brought AR mainstream like no other, drawing in old school Pokémon fans and new gamers into its addicting world of Pokémon catching. When you create your avatar and log in for the first time, you join Trainers across the globe in discovering Pokémon as you explore the world around you. The AR aspect comes into direct effect when you are catching Pokémon, as not only do you have to travel around to find them, but you also see them appear on the ground right in front of you! Its unique mechanics force players to get up and walking because, in order to catch new Pokémon, you have to be actively moving around. When you travel to well-known locations in your town, you may even find exciting monuments in the game such as Gyms and gift locations. You don’t have to play alone either. You can link up with your friends to share items, collect rare Pokémon, fight in Raid Battles, and more!

Science: FLARMINGOS

Kristin Lucas: Dance with flARmingos | Pioneer Works | 159 Pioneer Street,  Red Hook, Brooklyn
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This app populates your surroundings with AR flamingos that you can interact with through several functions on your screen. The FLARMINGOS are virtual representations of wild flamingos that the creator developed informed by scientific research. They were animated using human motion and a dynamic flocking algorithm that influences their collective behavior. If you have your friends download this informational app, you can work together to create a flock and watch as they dance to the music!

Social Justice: Breonna’s Garden

Welcome to Breonna's Garden
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She who plants a garden plants hope. This is the message you first see upon opening the app. Soon, music cues, and you watch a slideshow filled with various images of Breonna from her lifetime. After watching the moving slideshow, you scan your environment briefly with your camera and watch as Breonna’s Garden blooms. in the center of the garden stands a 3D model of Breonna. This AR app evolved from a tool to help her family grieve, to a tool used by the nation. It was created with the intention of it being a peaceful refuge where her name can be said without negation and where you can give yourself a moment to surrender and let go.  Brimming with art, life, and beauty, the Garden is not only a sacred space to honor Breonna Taylor, but also to celebrate someone you miss. This app is best experienced in a quiet place where you feel comfortable sharing your feelings.

Nature: Candide

Augmented Reality: Is this the Future of Plant Records? - Botanical Software
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If you are a plant lover, Candide is the app for you! Not only can this app identify your plants for you through a simple photo, but it also serves as a form of social media app for plant lovers! If you have a plant you’ve long forgotten the name of, a quick snap and scan using Candide’s AR filter will do its best to identify the plant for you. If you’re unsure whether or not its identification is correct, you can post the plant to your feed and ask others for their opinion. The app also provides extensive information on how to care for various plants, what plants go well together, and how to make your plants the healthiest they can be!

History: Kinfolk

A Monumental Shift – Guernica
Image Link

Kinfolk empowers users to bring AR monuments of underrepresented icons into any home, school, or public space. This app allows the user to dive deeper into Black history. The app comes preloaded with stories of 6 different historical figures. Once you choose a figure, its stature appears right in front of you through the power of AR. While you gaze at their life-size visage, you get to read or listen to their bios, explore their playlists, and even explore additional resources through the Kinfolk web portal. The app starts with monuments of people that should be common knowledge, and they are working to build an archive that tells history from a perspective that you won’t find in schools.

Game: Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs

Angry Birds augmented reality game coming to mobile, initially exclusive to  iOS - 9to5Mac
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Whether you are a fan of the classic game or looking into AR games for the first time, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs is a fun way to introduce you and your family to the world of AR games. This game takes you to a remote island right within your own home! Each of the 40 fun-filled levels appears on your floor, wherever you may be. The more space you have, the easier it is to play, as you can go as far as walking around the buildings to destroy them better! You are able to see the incredibly realistic characters and the structures of each level overlaying your own environment in real-time, making this Angry Birds game immersive like no other.

Conclusion

AR may seem daunting at first, but once you dip your toes into the world of AR apps, you’ll definitely come to see how easy it is to use this technology! People may think that they are not the right kind of person to use AR, but with the technology becoming so mainstream, there is bound to be an AR app out there for everyone! All the apps mentioned in this article are free to download, and there are many more out there to try. If you would like more recommendations of AR apps, or simply want to know more about AR technology, stop by Studio X and we can help you learn more!

Ayiana Crabtree
Ayiana Crabtree

Karp Library Fellow, XR Research

5 Books about XR Technology and Beyond: Get Yourself Thinking About the Future of Technology!

artsy book with a lightbulb in front of it.
Future of XR: Technology and Application
Image Link

This article serves to provide you with a list of various books that have a strong focus on XR technologies and futuristic concepts as well as a little bit of the history of these technologies. Some terms to know as you go:

XR – Extended Reality
The umbrella term used to describe all real and virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by computer technology. This includes AR, VR, and MR

VR – Virtual Reality
An immersive experience, also known as a computer simulated reality. It uses a VR headset to generate sounds and images that can either replicate the real world or create an imaginary one

AR – Alternative Reality
A live view, whether direct or indirect, of a real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer generated sensory output. AR uses your existing reality and adds to it by using a device such as a phone

One of the most popular books from this list, Ready Player One has been made into a movie that helped XR technologies to go mainstream. XR has huge potential to transform the everything from science to psychology to art to digital literature and beyond. I recently purchased my own VR headset and have been escaping into incredible fictional worlds! But did you know that the first evidence of XR technology dates back to the 1800s?

A Brief History of XR Technology

History of VR - Timeline of Events and Tech Development
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  • The history of XR starts back in the 1800s. Scientist, Sir Charles Wheatstone outlined a new concept called “stereopsis” in which the brain combines one image from each eye into a single 3D image. This led to the first stereoscopes, a device that took a pair of images and turned them into a 3D image with the illusion of depth.
  • In the early 1900s,  American Science Fiction writer, Stanley G. Weinbaum published the book Pygmalion’s Spectacles in which the main character explores a fictional world using a pair of goggles, making this the first prediction of VR as we know it today.
  • The first AR headset was created in 1968 by Ivan Sutherland called the Sword of Damocles that displayed computer-generated graphics that enhanced the user’s perception of the world.
  • From the 1980s to 2000s, VPL Research Inc became the first company to sell VR goggles and gloves. Their founder, Jaron Lanier, coined the term “virtual reality” in 1987.
  • In 2010, Palmer Luckey created the prototype for the Oculus Rift headset at the age of 18. By 2014, Facebook had acquired the Oculus VR company.
  • 2014 became a busy year for XR, with Sony and Samsung both announcing the creation of their own VR headsets, and Google releasing its low-cost cardboard viewer for smartphone users. In addition to this, Google released Google Glass, an AR device.
  • In 2016, Microsoft released HoloLens headsets, which made AR more interactive. AR was brought into the mainstream media by the release of Pokémon GO.
  • In 2017, a lot of retailers began using AR technologies to help customers imagine products in their homes using apps like IKEA Place.
  • As of 2020, about 30% of gamers own a VR headset.

For more on the history, visit this website: https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2021/05/17/the-fascinating-history-and-evolution-of-extended-reality-xr–covering-ar-vr-and-mr/

5 Books to Immerse Yourself in Extended Reality and Beyond

The Six by Mark Alpert

Topics: VR, Nanotechnology, AI, Uploading the human conscious to a machine

This YA Sci-Fi novel takes a look at how technology could be implemented for both medical and military purposes. The main character, Adam Armstrong suffers from muscular dystrophy and has lost motor control of everything but his head, neck, and right arm. He’s passionate about VR technology and codes his own programs. VR games are his only escape from his wheelchair, as he no longer attends high school due to his high intelligence levels.

One day while he is testing out one of his VR programs, he gets a visit from a hacker, who he later finds out is an artificial intelligence named Sigma, created by his dad in the laboratory. Sigma threatens to kill Adam, and soon he is taken from his home in New York to a remote settlement in Chicago. There, he learns of a government program called the Pioneer Project, which they hope will be able to take down this murderous AI, that is now taking over various military bases and satellites and threatening to kill large amounts of the human population in order to gain full control.

Adam soon joins the Pioneer Program along with 5 other teens who have less than 6 months to live to have their minds transferred into weaponized robots through the use of nanotechnology. The Six teens must learn to manipulate their new mechanical forms and work together to train for combat… before Sigma destroys humanity.

Unplugged by Donna Freitas

Topics: Virtual Reality, Dystopia

This YA Sci-Fi novel dives right into VR with its main concept being “imagine if people lived their entire lives in VR.” The main character, Skye is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in the Virtual “App World.” She was plugged into this reality when she was just 5 years old, as her mother and older sister wanted to give her a better life. In the App World, people go about day-to-day life as if they were living in reality, with some interesting upgrades to life. With the addition of apps that one could download into the very code of their existence, people have the ability to change their appearance, play highly immersive games, and even converse with others by merely thinking in their direction.

Skye, having been transferred in at the young age of 5, was given a foster family of others who were uploaded. Because of her lack of family, though, she is considered a “single,” aka someone who was uploaded without their real-life family. Despite not being with her family, she is looking forward to being “unplugged” at the age of seventeen, as is tradition with all “singles,” so they can see their families.

Skye knows nothing about her family as there is no communication allowed with the outside once someone is plugged in. What she does know, however, is that her mother and sister are likely “Keepers,” those who exist outside of the App World and are responsible for taking care of the bodies of those who are plugged in. Just as she is approaching her seventeenth birthday, however, the government of the App World mysteriously makes an announcement closing off the ability to be unplugged… forever. Skye is now desperate to find a way to visit her mother and sister, and in doing so, unveils a much darker plot at hand.

Take Me With You by Tara Altebrando

Topics: AI, Suspense

This YA novel focuses solely on the potential threats that self-thinking AI could pose to the future of humanity. Four teens with nothing in common all receive the same message at the end of the school day: Report to the music room directly after school. The matter is urgent. When they arrive, no one is in the room except for them, and a small black cube. The device suddenly lights up and gives them instructions. Do not tell anyone about the device. Do not leave the device unattended. Take me with you… Or else.

The reader is then launched into a thrilling mystery told through a POV that shifts between the four students Eden, Marwan, Eli, and Ilanka. Each student has their own compelling life story that adds to the thrills of the narrative. Eden has a crush that doesn’t like her back and a mother with secrets. Marwan is determined to pursue soccer, but his traditional father wants him to take over the family restaurant. Eli is frequently in trouble and has a grandfather who is on his deathbed. Ilanka lives a lavishly rich life but soon discovers that her father may be hiding something.

The teens’ lives soon become more intertwined than they would have ever imagined, and soon the device becomes hostile, not just towards them, but to the people around them. Who or what created the device? Where did it come from? What is its purpose? With its ability to listen in on their every conversation, sabotage their texts, and control any manner of electronics, the teens realize that they must play along to not suffer any consequences. The device wants one thing: to belong. The teens must figure out how to meet the devices’ wishes before things are too late.

Warcross by Marie Lu

Topics: VR

This YA Sci-Fi novel shows what life might be like if people could escape their reality for a little while in a fully immersive VR game. For the millions who log into Warcross every day, however, it becomes more than a game, it becomes a way of life. The main character, Emika Chen, is a teenage hacker working as a bounty hunter to track down players who bet on the game illegally. With the competitive bounty hunting profession not making her enough money, she makes a desperate attempt and hacks into the opening game of the International Warcross Championships.

The risky move leaves her feeling like she will be arrested. Instead, she gets a call from the mysterious Hideo Tanaka, the young billionaire creator of the game. Just to her luck, he needs someone to spy on the tournament due to a security issue that had gone unresolved.

One minute she thinks she’ll be arrested, the next she’s being whisked off to Tokyo and tossed directly into the game and a world of fame she’s never known before. After a bit of investigating, however, she begins to uncover a sinister plot that if true, would have serious complications for the entirety of Warcross. Is she right in her suspicions, and is she willing to risk everything to prove herself correct?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Topics: VR, Action

This Sci-Fi novel immerses the reader into a world where there’s a fusion of 80s pop culture and a heavy presence of the impact of VR on humanity. The OASIS is a digital utopia that everyone escapes to, including our protagonist, Wade Watts. He doesn’t just escape to the OASIS but even goes to school there. One day, something happens out of the blue. The creator of the OASIS, James Halliday dies. As he has no relatives, he instead leaves behind a mysterious video message that initiates the hunt for an egg that once found, will transfer all of his life savings and the ownership of OASIS to the winner.

Wade had already dedicated his life to studying Halliday, his role model, and feels that he could gain a place among the top “Gunters” (Egg Hunters). He watches endless videos and studies Halliday’s archives until one day he happens to stumble across the first clue. Soon, he is being tracked down by the IOI (Innovative Online Industries) who seek to gain ownership of the OASIS for profit, something that Halliday never did.

Wade soon learns that plenty of people are willing to kill for clues, as the ultimate prize would secure the winner’s life forever, both in and out of the OASIS. Before he knows it, he is swept into a mad race, and if he is to survive, he has to win.

Ayiana Crabtree
Ayiana Crabtree

Karp Library Fellow, XR Research

Studio X Equipment Usage Guide

Oculus Quest 2 VR headset with controllers.

This document provides information on how to use the various equipment that you can borrow from Studio X

Oculus Quest 2

CleanBox UV Disinfecting Box

Tutorials

Insta360 One X2

Notes

  • The “General Help” link under Tutorials takes you to their webpage, on which you can find all sorts of instructional videos sorted by category.
  • Beyond Insta360 Studio, you can also use video editing tools such as Adobe Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve for editing 360 footage. See this page for some resources.

Microsoft HoloLens

Notes

The “General Documentation” link under Documentation brings you to their website, which has an extensive database of informational guides that are easy to navigate

Zoom H3-VR Microphone

Notes

There are a lot more videos on their YouTube page under the search term “H3-VR”