Virtual Reality is moving into Finland – and we got to test what’s in development.
A bold soul crossing the heights in Vertigo (physics toolkit).
This is a hands on review of products and applications that we tried out ourselves at a VR day organized by Finnish National Broadcasting Company YLE and newly-established Finnish Virtual Reality Association (FIVR).
EXPERIENCE – Vertigo physics tool-kit
In this demo we balanced across a wooden beam from one construction platform to another, high up in a city skyline.
Stepping onto the plank to start my act to the other side, my senses and whole body were tricked and I was fully in this virtual world – this was intuitively adopted by my subconsciousness.
What happened next got me totally off track, quite literately – I slipped of the plank and started free-falling towards the pavement. I swear this was my longest three seconds I’ve ever experienced. I could see my ligaments flap as I desperately tried to grab onto something to keep me alive and memories flashed through my mind. I remember clearly bracing myself for impact by crouching together but when at the moment of supposed impact I was still alive, my consciousness caught up with the normal – the reality. This demo made it clear for me that VR is a powerful tool to fool the mind, and can truly deliver immersive experiences.
PRACTICAL APPLICATION – Home Planner
This was also a demo displayed on HTC Vive in which the user scan and upload a blueprint of an apartment, and the machine reconstructs the apartment into your surrounding. The idea here was to let home-buyers experience and optimize their home for their own liking before buying it. In this environment I tried different colors on the floors and walls, experimented with different materials in the kitchen and planned where I want my bedroom. The interaction was quite easy to adopt and comes quite naturally, I didn’t need any instructions to know what to do.
This was a service with a quite clear use-case, and a very handy one indeed. What impressed me in Home Planner was that when watching out of the window, there was actually people walking by, getting ready for work, biking and whatnot, the surrounding was interactively displayed in really good video quality.
HOBBYISTS – Minecraft Vantaa
Minecraft Vantaa had reconstructed, with a help of Oculus Rift head mounted display, the whole region of Helsingin Pitäjä in Minecraft blocks where I was free to roam around to explore the area. I wandered around a good 5 minutes in this environment trying to find my grandmothers’ farm which unfortunately wasn’t there. Personally I could not use the system for longer than that before motion sickness took over and I needed to un-virtualize myself.
This one struck a personal note. I’ve grown up at an old farm in Helsingin pitäjän kirkonkylä. Nearby was oldest schoold still in use in Finland where I started my studies. I did get a little sentimental seeing how this area which was so vast for a young mind then, became so reachable now.
MARKETING – Robust North Arilyn augmented reality
Arilyn focus on mobile marketing tools using location information and augmented reality. Solutions for entertainment, marketing, culture, education. The demos here scanned pictures and displayed both static and interactive multi-media content in your surrounding.
Today you can see Arilyns content through your mobile device — as an example of content, you could direct your mobile towards a bus going towards the airport. It then shows Finnairs airplanes buzzing around the bus like flies, as a visual example.
Augmented Reality is yet mature for consumer products, but AR market is worth keeping an eye on since it certainly is an industry that within a few years will start to become more and more visible in every day life. Robust North is onto something here. Imagine virtual layers of information, marketing content and general infrastructure information visualized in your direct environment. A very interesting field to follow up on.
The Ozo 360° camera by Nokia
SCOPE OF MEDIA – Nokia – Ozo 360° camera
Nokias Ozo camera-system is a wonderful piece of engineering and design. The cameras price-tag hangs at 60,000 euros, so it is not a toy. This system is meant for professional use and is a waypoint towards what the next form of consumer media will look like.
With the Ozo a story such as a film can have multiple narratives and experiences depending on where the user is watching. With Ozo, producers get to rethink production and its environments. Post-production for media houses is going to be considerably more efficient than with current methods. The consumer might re-watch a film multiple times and still be finding new things in the storyline every time. This makes the media houses recognize value.
For the demonstration the system was rigged in a space where the user in a HTC Vive stepped into a bar. There was a band playing with a beautiful singer flirting with you. Once she caught your attention she started to drag you closer towards her with some sort of binding equipment and the cameras point of view followed – which for my senses made it very clear that I am approaching this lady. The environment was an upper-class lounge, but of course… That can change by switching a texture file.