Is VR ready for Vis

Was at a show session in London – hosted by jigsaw24 – with a range of the new headset VR  (all except Sony [IMO one of the easiest and most comfortable to wear – possibly because it is well balanced]) creators and some hardware suppliers. 100+ attendees, with a mix of commercial and academic interest.


After a techy roadmap

  • EditShare (showing mainly 360VR data capture and pipeline use) emphasising on data storage issues and;
  • HTC Vive with the new Nvidia cards for automatic optic distortion was good – as always nvidia themselves create great prototypes (see their circus games in VR – with PhysX and some tactile feedback);


An interesting sales pitch was as a full system can use up to 4mx3m in space with multiple tracking nodes – there is an opportunity for nvidia to sell a new high-end pc in a new location at home. This space is too big for many living rooms; but the garage is an ideal (when empty) location to host a VR studio to achieve the best experience – so you will need a new PC (with high-end Pascal architecture quadro card!) for the garage.

Couple of interesting add-ons were shown but not demonstrated live from HTC – the new wireless modes which add only a few ms of latency, but allow you to wear a headset and do back-flips and other gymnastic maneuvers, a common occurrence in the future! The other was the HTC Vive Tracker a small attachment you can fix to a physical device, say a baseball bat, model gun etc… Six attached to a body created a simple but effective motion tracking system.


A developer panel was formed from; Alchemy VR, Rewind, Halo and the Mill – discussing use cases after a few years of practice and experience. Key questions were what did not work that included mainly thinking that you are creating a standard “framed” 2D/3D movie and old ideas fade to start and focus on specific POV object have to be rewritten. You can move but in sharper steps, and can cut when in context, although should contact some fixed reference point, and can experiment with exploration but may need to guide users for example turning down certain lights to allow the user to change their POV to the required place.


  • Cool examples to search and download include the Everest exploration viewer – this takes the traditional vertigo effect seen in caves within immersive environments to a new cool location being half way up everest.
  • ‘Home’ is the spacewalk that has parts of this that break good immersive experience (loosing a frame of reference) but that is what ‘…being in space is like’.
  • For 360 video the one of the Great Barrier Reef is now a classic for its beauty and simplicity.
  • HTC claimed over 1000 available just from last year and this will expand.


So can you do visualisation within this medium – will consider in detail later – but as an experience I would say there is scope to add this scale effect and immersion to help understand data. Couple of quick examples I would include;

  • Understanding astronomy as is fully 3D and huge (see below from Manchester)
  • Seeing the ATLAS detector and large underground building type structure showed its scale and shape




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