The Research Triangle Park

RTP180: Virtual Reality Recap

By Feb 21, 2017

I’ll use this joke ONE LAST TIME – I promise. The Virtual Reality RTP180 was out of this world! (get it?) Ok, I’m done.

The lineup for this event was filled with awesome people working on some pretty unreal technology. A camera rig consisting of 16 GoPros, drones with VR capabilities, bugs as big as school buses, and social experiments that seem all too real. If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry – we filmed the whole event and you can watch it here. (It’s as close to VR as we can get.) If you’re more of a reader, keep on truckin’ through my recap.

Jason Cooper & Jason McGuigan | Horizon Productions

First up from Horizon Productions, we have Jason Cooper and Jason McGuigan to help lay the ground work of the basics of making virtual reality a reality.

The guys were tasked with explaining the different types of 360 videos. Which include:

Mono 360 – A 2D and flat 360 video. This is accomplished by taking the footage from all the cameras used and stitching it together to form a 360 video. This is the most popular style of virtual reality/360 video, as it can be played on both Facebook and YouTube. 

Stereo 360 – This style is similar in nature to Mono 360, but it gives the user a truer depth. It works by showing two different images: your left eye is seeing something different than your right eye and your brain makes the connection to give it true depth. You feel like you are standing right there!

After the schooling of the various types of 360 videos, the guys unveiled one of the few 16 camera 360 rigs from Google on the east coast. A product delivering outstanding 360-degree footage. If you’re interested in this sort of thing (and who wouldn’t be?), and want to see the view from half court at the UNC/Duke game using this 16 camera rig, watch their 180 talk HERE.

Mike Cuales | LEVR Studios

Bugs as big as buses! Wait for it, we’ll get there.

Mike has focused his time and attention on 360 video and “cinematic VR” for the last couple of years. His passion has allowed him to experience a wide range of experiences from going underwater on a submarine to escaping a zombie apocalypse in downtown Raleigh (what a nightmare – his joke. Not mine.).

Not only has Mike experienced a lot, but he’s met some amazing people along the way as well. One of those being Derrick, who runs a project called “Wild Eyes” which is the First 360° video capture of ALL 59 US National Parks.

Derrick and Mike recently teamed up to execute an idea – putting a 360 camera inside of a bug tank. Seems like a good idea right? Well, when you are in VR, it invokes a very emotional response and strong sense of presence. With a giant spider on the screen, Mike says “this may have been a bad idea.”

To see the results of their great bug idea – watch Mike’s 180 talk HERE.

Derek Ham | NCSU College of Design

Derek opens up his talk by showing President Obama being sworn in for the second time as he places his hands on two books. These books are not encyclopedias, they aren’t even the congressional laws of our land, they are two books that our society has deemed to be sacred. By doing this, Obama shows to the nation and the world that, “I take this job seriously.”

Derek goes on to explain that sacredness is part of who we are. We touch. We interact. We fight for it. But what happens when we start to digitize the world? How does sacredness hold up? Does it even exist in VR?

Derek’s talk is full of challenges, thoughts, and ideas around the sacredness of items within VR. I encourage you to watch his full talk HERE.

Dr. Megan Lewis | RTI International

Megan shared with us a different perspective of using virtual reality. She uses VR at RTI International to conduct social science research and training. As an example, her team created a virtual doctor’s office to help with doctor patient communication. The main idea is to study how people react to certain news from their doctor.

Another experiment on Megan’s plate (pun intended) is how we can use VR to help with food safety. For example, how to prepare a turkey – using 360 video and Google cardboard, people are able learn how to properly prepare the bird without getting anyone sick. As they go through the exercise, they are given feedback on how they are doing with the exercise. Are they using the thermometer correctly, did they properly prepare the bird, and so on. The goal here is to help reduce food-borne illnesses.

Megan’s interactions with VR have raised a lot of other questions about the uses of this kind of technology.

What if –

We built a virtual crime scene investigation app?

We took VR and integrated it with drones?

We help doctors have the hard “end of life” conversation with their patients?

To answer these what if questions, you’ll have to watch Megan’s talk HERE.

Michael Micholic | Red Storm Entertainment

Last, but certainly not least, Michael shared with us his work within Red Storm on how to experience VR with other people.

Year 1 of the great social VR experiment produced basic concepts. For example: Facebook has shown you can do a few things with VR, like share photos and connect with friends.

Red Storm is working on ways to help people connect through VR. One of their concepts, Werewolves Within, puts users around a campfire and tells them to lie to each other. The classic game formula where everyone has a role, limited information on each other, and as a group they must figure out who to eliminate. It’s one way to spend a Friday night!

Through these concepts and experiments, they have learned a few things about what people want in VR. One of which being intuitive social movements. To really be immersed in the experience and to actually feel like you are really there, you have to be able to do the things inside of the game that you can do in real life.

To hear everything Michael and team have learned, you’ll have to watch his talk HERE.


 

Have you ever tried virtual reality? I’ve thrown on the goggles once at a local cell phone store. Even at a basic level I was a bit freaked out by how real it seemed. It will be a while before I put them on again. Leave a comment on your experience, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.

DO NOT MISS next month’s RTP180. We are celebrating RTP180’s four year anniversary and you know we’ll have a few surprises up our sleeves. Stay tuned!

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