First Observations – Part 1

My Situation

This was a bad weekend after a bad week, at least as far as progress in the VR department is concerned.

I had reserved a Note 4 and got the confirmation that I can pick it up at a store. At the store they told me that there is no Note 4 left and that they do not know anything about such a reservation. Summary: one more time that o2 produces a huge disappointment. The only reasons I decided to order it there are:

  1. … because I can pay in installments …
  2. … and because I can choose to pick it up at a store. There is no way for me to be around for any other form of delivery.

Well, the next chance will be on Saturday, two weeks from now. I will try ordering on Friday. Maybe the system just needs a little time … and I guess I will need to get lucky to a certain degree.


The Limits

I decided to look at available resources to get more excited about Virtual Reality. Of course I picked the exact wrong material and achieved the opposite. Here is my advice: no not look at the Oculus Best Practices guide unless you need a downer when you are hyped.

So far I thought that Virtual Reality will start strong and be a decent consumer product right away, while Augmented Reality will get there in around 5 years. Now I fear that Virtual Reality might need quite a few more years before it is ready for a mass market.

Maybe the limitations sound worse than they actually are. I might do a series of experiments that show how bad violating those best practices actually is.

What disturbs me most about quite a few of those warnings and rules is that they are not in place because the technology is not quite ready. They are encouraged or even enforced because this is just how Virtual Reality works – when there is a mismatch between what the actual body does and what the eyes see, this seems to lead to problems. Here are the ones that bother me most:

  • Watching stereoscopic movies is not recommended (probably not even feasible), unless you can look around freely in the scene. When people move their heads the environment needs to respond accordingly. There will be cinema apps. Not sure if those will support 3D movies any time soon.
  • Strafing and walking backwards are discouraged
  • Acceleration is evil (when the body stays still) and only partly okay if the user controls it

The last point is bad. So far I am not interested in actually moving around physically. I will be sitting and controlling the experience with a gamepad. I always assumed that scripted camera flights are fine and that those will be the coolest content out there for quite a while.

Well, there are plans for VR tourism and drones recording stereoscopic videos for VR headsets. Maybe it is just a matter of resilience


The Tools

The next thing I will look at is the Mobile SDK. It seems as if there will be a lot more programming on a lower level than I thought. I got this impression by reading the Best Practices document, though. I have yet to read the Mobile Development Documentation, which is on the top of my todo list.

There are also less resources about developing for the Gear VR than expected. Maybe I need to search differently.

Another thing that worries me is that we have a commons problem … yeah … a problem with the commons. I will elaborate another time, but basically what I am saying is that the Open Source community does not offer the libraries and tools that I would love to work with.

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