Making the Unknown Known & the Past Present via High-Tech Image Capture & VR

Making it possible for people to walk through history and see significant places and objects layered with stories of the past is one way VR and AR can capture the world and open it up for discovery and exploration.

While a picture is worth a thousand words, an immersive VR experience is worth a million.

I have been testing VR/360° content for the last couple of months and have really enjoyed visiting places I could or would never go and learning about topics I might have ignored otherwise - all in a much more immersive and compelling way than viewing pictures, video or text. I recently visited the White House and sort of hung out with the Obamas thanks to the virtual tour they gave me, providing a lot of information about the historic objects they pointed out along the way. It truly felt like a privilege  - Barack, Michelle and I strutting through all these important rooms in this iconic building. I felt present and the experience remains memorable.

The same goes for the immersive tour of one of the previous space shuttles via the VR experience via Light Fields I took part in a couple of weeks ago. It's not really interactive or anything super dynamic, but I got into it quickly and felt like I was as close to being there and seeing things right before my eyes as I ever could be. I knew more about space discovery after the virtual tour than before and I felt like sharing all the details with family and friends, just like I do when at a museum or on an informative tour. The only bad part - which truly felt odd and a little annoying even - was that I couldn't take pictures. It's weird - but when you start feeling immersed, that urge to capture what you're seeing to share with others is strong for those of us addicted to taking photos with our phones. You see such urges and addictions are already being "solved" in experiences like Facebook Spaces, where you can use a virtual selfie stick to take a virtual selfie. Adding that kind of ability to a 360° experience wouldn't be possible - but hopefully it will in VR content as it improves. At least in this day and age, such extras would add to the experience and create sharing and social possibilities, which might increase the interest and use of VR and AR heritage and history apps. Lets' face it, for a lot of people, if there's no picture to post of cool stuff you've seen, it didn't happen! ;-)

If you have a decent headset and are interested in US history, try out the White House experience I mentioned above yourself below or via the Oculus shop (for free). Again, it's not very interactive but it does manage to let you to feel like you are sort of there and see things in a less-distant way, while hearing the stories behind them by the former president and first lady themselves.

In the below video, you can also get an idea of the Light Fields experience (I mentioned above regarding the space shuttle tour), which could become a powerful way to explore heritage sites. The image quality gets better and better due to high-tech cameras (GoPro Odyssey Jump with 16 rotating cameras) that capture light in an extraordinary way. You can see an example of the cameras at work in the video and get a taste of several visually and historically significant locations.

The big news on VR in heritage this week came from none other than the mighty Google thanks to its new Open Heritage Project.

Working with the non-profit company CyArk, Google hopes to preserve important places that might not be around forever and make them accessible to the you's and the me's of the world from our living rooms, work desks and classrooms, rather than just at museums. This isn't a particularly new idea, though it is a noble one of course. Google probably has more money and power to hopefully make the project into something valuable, powerful and significant. You can see a lot of professional, semi-pro and starter 3D -VR heritage work via sites like Sketchfab, which is worth a look. Google and CyArk will bring such  photos and renders to life thanks to laser scanning, photogrammetry and LiDAR technology that CyArk is using.

Watch this video to see how "we are losing the story of where we came from" thanks to "natural disasters and human conflict" and how Google, CyArk and so many other 3D and VR content producers are trying to help us hold on to what is or will be lost by capturing it and sharing it with us in an immersive and memorable way. Right now, there are 27 heritage sites you can explore via the Open Heritage project, with more surely on their way.

Photogrammetry is essential to capturing high quality images, which are vital to creating immersive and rich heritage, history and travel experiences in VR. Such experiences can be extremely useful for education - and to achieve a deep view and the feeling of being present. It's easy to imagine the limitless possibilities as the image capturing and rendering, as well as headsets, content, computing power and memory, continue to develop and improve. If you want to know more about what CyArk is doing and about the power of photogrammetry, here's a just under 30 minute inteview with CyArk from February 2018. You can also see more of their heritage creations here. Just to be clear, LiDAR image capturing technology is far more accurate, especially for heritage projects, but it's too expensive technology for most projects. In the video, the guys from CyArk explain the LiDAR definitely serves their heritage projects better (so luckily they have now teamed up with Google who can afford it ;-)) - but that photogrammetry is good enough for general VR usage. Have a look at this article to get some info on the difference.

Going back to outer space, below you can see some takeaways from a January 2018 presentation by Charles White, a JPL’s Knowledge Management Specialist for the Office of the Chief Engineer. White talks about "Virtual Heritage: Knowledge Management in VR" during the "Virtual and Augmented Reality for Space Science and Exploration" symposium at the Keck Institute for Space Studies. Even though it's mostly about VR uses for space simulation, discovery and practice, White draws our attention away from "project management" and turns to "knowledge management." He looks at VR storytelling as the modern-day campfire, with people sharing stories, knowledge and experience.

Scroll down for the full presentation via video and have a quick view at some of the slides below. There's a lot of food for thought about how VR can preserve, create, stimulate, make it easy to collaborate - and how "experience" is the key to knowledge and learning. VR can help us experience places and stories that are out of our reach, such as outer space, underwater worlds, war-torn monuments, far-off lands and buried treasures, just to name a few.

 

Storytelling was the first way to be "immersed" in a virtual environment.

Stories transfer knowledge to others in order to survive.

 

Can you see what I see? We are telling stories...

We are getting more value - We are saving money!

Learning is experience. Everything else is just information. ― Albert Einstein

There's a lot more to be said about using VR for heritage - and using AR, which down the line will probably be much more important and interactive. Keep your eyes open for evolutions in not only VR but also AR and heritage.

by Sarah Markewich – SIVAR project intern spring 2018


Real Life Uses of Virtual & Augmented Reality - Coming Soon to a Shop, House, Company, Comic Book & Music Video Near You!

If you do a search on AR and VR "news" each week, you'll see a whole lot of information about the latest uses and developments in the field, which seem to be increasing daily. Skeptics might say that VR is dying (other than in the gaming business) and AR is the only one of the two that really matters anymore. The verdict is not out on that yet. Searches reveal a lot of sectors launching new ways to use VR to save and earn money. As usual, the best advice is to keep your eyes open and on the current VR and AR trends to stay sharp in your field.

Let's have a look at a few of the "news" items the popped off the page in today's search.

Perhaps inspired by Ikea's pioneering use of VR, now Macy's retail and department store is launching a VR experience to help customers walk through their possible, future living rooms to see how the space feels and if the products are right for them. Using a tablet, Macy's clients can design the perfect furniture set-up for their dream home and then immerse themselves in it in one of the 60 Macy's locations to set up this VR furniture pilot. Macy's says that the VR service will drive sales by increasing the customer experience by helping them to choose new furniture in way that is closer to home. It also means more space for Macy's as they see it as a way to show furniture that isn't necessarily present in the shop but can be ordered directly from the warehouse the moment the customer is ready to purchase. You can check out a video of Macy's new VR offer here.

Is it time for your furniture business to look into providing your clients with a VR simulation of their future dream rooms and homes?

What do you think of the Ikea kitchen simulation? Have a look below!

Now that we've talked shop, lets get back to the work floor and have a look at what the major, US conglomerate Honeywell has in mind for VR and AR. As a manufacturer of just about everything, so it seems, Honeywell, like so many companies, is faced with transferring the jobs of an older generation of retirees to a younger one of millennials.  If we are to believe the trend reports, the millennial generation stays in most job positions for no more than 2 years, which can be a nightmare in terms of positions that sometimes require up to 6 months of training. VR and AR training could help solve this issue, which so many businesses face.

Have a look at this recent Forbes article to learn more about what Honeywell has planned.

According to the article, it's also important to keep in mind that younger generations are not fans of passive training. Another Forbes article goes on to say that millennials will not join or stay long at companies that are behind on technology. Studies show that the younger workforce expects to use seamless tech in their daily jobs and would not only look for using VR and AR for training but also for entertainment breaks on the job. While working, it could also be an advantage to set the atmosphere as desired with the sounds and virtual spaces that make them feel more productive. Virtual meeting spaces and the flexibility to work from anywhere and still easily attend meetings will also be a requirement for many future workers.

Take 6 minutes to watch this interview about VR and AR training at Honeywell if you want to know more about their approach.

We've all heard about VR films and we saw when part of the world was taken over by Pokemon Go! Yet, it still came as a surprise to see this exciting news about Will.i.am of the band the Black Eyed Peas talking about his latest dive into the AR world via a graphic comic that comes to life and into VR through music videos, or "projects" as he calls them.

If you like graphic novels, comics, music and want to see some of the potential of augmented reality to literally (or is it figuratively or virtually or "augmentedly", in this case?) make things jump off the page, make sure to watch the Masters of the Sun video below. It's surprising and impressive. Just by seeing the technology in the video, you can already imagine how many ways it could be used for and way beyond entertainment.

In this recent NME article, Will.i.am is quoted saying the following:

If he's right and a shift is indeed happening, a change, then it's probably time for us all to start getting more familiar with VR and AR and to say "fuck yeah" to it as well.

As far as my VR research goes, it actually all started to take shape in my mind while watching this random Bjork VR video that a friend showed me while I was using her mobile VR headset. It made a huge impact on me that I couldn't shake as I love music and had never experienced it in such a way, with so many senses, as I did in that moment. I felt the potential of VR then and have said fuck yeah to it ever since. You definitely have to try it to believe it! My suggestion is to try VR and AR any chance you can to get used to the idea of them as there is no escaping some form of them in the future, whether while choosing furniture, training for jobs,  via experiencing music, comics entertainment and more!

Get your VR headset on and jump in the video below with Bjork!

Immerse yourself in more VR and AR news here next week.

by Sarah Markewich – SIVAR project intern spring 2018


Virtual reality als HR-tool

Unilin heeft een eerder unieke HR-campagne voorgesteld: een ongeziene combinatie van virtual reality (VR) en gamification zorgt voor een nieuwe beleving van het bedrijf en laat sollicitanten ontdekken wat machinebedieners en techniekers precies doen. De groep, bekend als interieurspecialist achter de bekende Quick-Stepvloeren, blijft groeien en zoekt 50 nieuwe collega’s met technisch talent of interesse in techniek of productie. “Het is belangrijk dat sollicitanten goed kunnen inschatten of onze omgeving en de functie echt bij hen passen”, zegt Nick Leenaert, talent director bij Unilin. “De VR-film geeft de sollicitanten via een 360 graden scoop een zo realistisch mogelijk beeld van hun nieuwe werkplek. Bovendien kunnen kandidaten de omgeving en de rol van machinebediener en technieker zelf ervaren aan de hand van een 3D-game. De combinatie van VR en 3D zorgt ervoor dat je vrij op ontdekkingstocht kan gaan, alsof je werkelijk in onze productieafdeling staat.”

Het volledige artikel kan u vinden via deze link:
http://www.madeinwest-vlaanderen.be/nieuws/unilin-zet-virtual-reality-in-als-hr-tool/


TwoEyes VR, de eerste 360° 4K video camera

In het klimaat van de huidige VR boom steken er om de haverklap interessante prototypes en start-ups de kop op. Een van de nieuwkomers is TwoEyes VR: een camera uitgerust met twee 180° lenzen die in staat zijn om 4K 360° beelden af te leveren. Er zijn momenteel al meerdere apparaten op de markt die deze claim maken maar wat TwoEyes VR opvallend maakt is dat het, door de plaatsing van de 2 lenzen, een alles-in-een pakket beloofd te worden, zoals de volgende vergelijkingsmatrix laat zien: