More Second Life Oculus Rift

Hamlet Au has an article titled: Oculus Rift Integration Coming to Second Life, Linden Lab Staff Confirm (Both Officially and Unofficially). I think in that article and in a previous article (ref) he makes several good points. And, it does look like Oculus Rift (OR) is coming to Second Life™. But, Hamlet doesn’t combine it with the LEAP Motion controller I think is needed to go with OR.

You are not going to be able to get a retail OR headset until at least 2014.

The video shows the OR with an omni-directional treadmill. That is NOT the kind of control system I am hopping for… but it might be good for me… but… how would that work in Zindra?

The real challenge for the Lab is again the viewer. Adding 3D rendering is a bit of a task but that has been done. KirstenLee did that in 2011. The hardware requirement is a step up for the Rift, but nothing onerous. Consider.

The world must be rendered as seen from two cameras, one for each eye. For shutter glasses we need the same render speed the OR will likely need. For shutter glasses a monitor that can display 120 frames per second is needed. My Samsung monitor does 60 fps and looks great, but won’t handle shutter glasses. The OR is going to be two screens. That suggests they only need to render 60 fps each. That is pretty standard tech. So, no big deal getting that.

Still the graphics card has to do the work. But, they were using shutter glasses with NVIDIA 8800 cards. So, my GTX560 can easily handle the graphics. So, again, no big deal. The Lab has a significant audience that can take advantage of the OR tech with existing equipment.

The rub comes in how the viewer handles the user interface. Wearing an OR and using a keyboard and/or mouse seems rather awkward. Using just the OR to control things also seems impractical. How does one tell the OR to keep us moving forward while we looking around at all sorts of interesting things? An omni-directional treadmill? Mouse? Keyboard?

Understanding the scenario in which SL with the OR is going to be used is key too. Your iPad is not going to run SL until we see lots of tech development. So, for the next few years we are likely going to be tied to desktops. Plus, if you think texting and driving are bad… imagine even pedestrians using OR… OMG!

If you watched the Team Fortress video at the top, you saw the omni-directional treadmill being used with the Rift. Considering that a significant part of the existing SL user base has mobility challenges, that is probably a poor choice.

Other Control Devices

This is an interesting device that is expected to retail at US$150. I think it could be fun to use with SL. I wouldn’t be able to have anything spill-able anywhere near me… but, that is probably true of me with a Rift and LEAP controller too.

But, I am voting for LEAP Motion. Check this out:

A LEAP Motion controller is US$70. So, this looks like a good option for an advanced SL user interface controller. Combine that with a rumored retail price of US$300 for Oculus Rift. That is doable.

So What’s the Rub?

I think the viewer’s users interface is where the Lab is going to have to be coming up with innovative ideas for the user interface to make this work. All those panels in the viewer… inventory, friends, chat… these have to work with whatever they work out.

Think of the pinch and spread gestures we use with iPad’s and phones now. Think of how many more gestures we will need the computers to understand with Rift and LEAP…

This new user interface thing is where Apple has always excelled. If the Lab can match that level of creativity, SL may become a killer app. If I were Rod, I would find out who the team members were that created the iPhone/iPad UI and steal them away.

Building an interface is the challenge and time consuming. It will be costly and require manpower. All these priorities for development in SL contend for staff’s time and company resources. But, I still want the Mesh Deformer. But, it might be OK to get the Rift first… but that is like 1 or 2 years away… Geez! Decisions, decisions…

Liability and Problems

There is a health consideration in regard to the Rift and 3D. Last December I wrote: Is 3D Safe for Kids. It isn’t. The Rift is also likely to be a problem too.

Movies max out at 3 hours and average about 90 minutes. Gamers are nuts and may play for days. This will aggravate the visual problems encountered with what I’ll call synthetic 3D and distorted depth perception experienced in movies. Those problems from movies are just starting to surface. How much more pronounced with they be with the Rift?

Like in the Bruce Willis movie Surrogates, mixing VR and RL is going to be more and more of a problem.

We will likely find ways to deal with these problems too. We always do. The free market is amazing. We just need to get more people signed on to the real Pro-Choice ideal of letting people be free to actually chose what they do.

11 thoughts on “More Second Life Oculus Rift

  1. Very interesting stuff and very exciting.

    You’ve been looking at the same things I’ve been looking at and I agree that much of these gadgets may not be right for SL, as they are now.

    I’m also thinking about the old VR gloves that we read about so many years ago.

    Now the OR is here, it is time someone brought that idea back from the attic and developed that a bit more.

    The LEAP is also extremely interesting and could be very good for SL and OR.

    I can imagine using that to move my virtual hands but also to open windows, for instance putting your hands together for more then a few seconds may open a window with options, etc.

    I do like the treadmill and think it could be pretty interesting, especially as it will also give us some exercise.

    But I also expect a much simpler system to come to the market soon, just a simple touch pad that you place on the floor below your chair.

    Simply by tapping the touchpad with your feet you can move your avatar.

    I remember seeing something like that for computer games many years ago already.

    Either way, this is all relatively new and the success of the OR is clearly getting a lot of people excited and will get even more people to start creating tools and gadgets for it.

    I think that SL sees the potential for OR and will try as hard as possible to get it to work.
    This could be a “game changer” for SL and make it even bigger than it ever was.

    Because although experiencing virtual reality through games is great, experiencing a virtual reality YOU build is even greater.

    • I had to look up the gloves thing… I’ve seen the control gloves before, called Waldo’s in Heinlein books, which is what I originally thought you meant.

      I am watching Caprica, a made for TV SyFy series, again on NetFlix. They of course have the perfect control and perception device, its Hollywood where anything can be done. I think Caprica shows a likely possibility where this is all headed. While Caprica is probably not your type of show the heavy questions about soul/being, personality/awareness transfer into a machine and immortality are questions well depicted using VR. Just watching the first episode will give you an idea of the nifty tech they depict.

      Asimov’s Elijah Baley in the robot series encounters an advanced VR/RL mix while trying to solve a murder mystery. This is a less advanced VR than Caprica’s. But, Caprica’s is 40 years newer.

      I think the Rift/LEAP is a baby step those directions.

      You’ll notice the stories all show how humans misuse the tech. I love Drax’s and your uses of the tech as positive creative statements of how tech can be used. It gives some small balance to things.

      • I’ve seen Caprica and other movies and shows like it, I am not sure if that is where we are going because in many of those shows (not sure about Caprica, don’t remember) it involved getting some sort of plug straight into your brain 😉
        And I bet people will alway be a bit scared of that and also of VR becoming too real.
        I think we enjoy removing the helmet and being sure we’re out of the game… off the matrix 😉

        I think some VR babysteps were made years ago, I remember trying the VR helmet at an arcade and being blown away.
        It is ridicilous that there has been almost no progress since then, I mean, I’m old!
        But now we’re moving fast, but yes, still babysteps, it is all very young, but getting somewhere!

        And of course, humans will abuse VR as soon as they can.
        Expect stories about kinky perverts doing all those nasty things, terrorists rehearsing attacks, neo nazis marching all over the place, etc, etc.
        People will find a way.
        Sadly that happens with almost every technology it seems.

        • I think Google Glasses will give us some idea of how acceptable the tech becomes. I suspect younger generations will be more acceptable to bio-implants. The information we put on social networks is way beyond what my parents and certainly my grand parents would allow. I suspect as SciFi stories show more bio-mechanical enhancements to humans and we see more people with bio-mechanical prosthesis helping them that wall of aversion to cybernetics will come down.

          Caprica uses a headset with neural wireless connection.

          I don’t expect you to suddenly find bio-mechanical/digital/biocybernetic connection to your body acceptable. But, I suspect we will both be surprised at how many find it acceptable.

          Humans are both noble and depraved, often the same person. So, I have issues with how such connections might be taken over and misused. So, I too want to be sure I can take it off…

          • Yes you’re right, once we have a generation that has grown up with all this stuff, there will be more and more who will find taking more extreme steps completely acceptable.
            I’m not the person to ask anyway, I find regular mobile phones way too much to handle!

  2. I would hope that a Rift/viewer combination will be able to take advantage of dual graphics cards where they are fitted.

    As for controllers, wouldn’t a Xbox/PS3 type game controller be a good, low-cost option? These can be operated blind quite easily.

    And maybe a voice-to-text option in the viewer for text chat, and maybe some voice-controlled commands.

  3. I loved Caprica. Being an long time SL user, i could see exactly how we can get to a stage like Capricas Holobands.

    With the OR i agree with all the points about the UI being KEY to Oculus success with SL. I cant see me using Rift for building. Id get a head ache really quickly. But for casual immersive experience, RP and gaming in SL, it would be awesome.

    • I’ve thought about how many different SL experiences might be with Rift. I can imagine both good and bad aspects to using Rift for building. The UI would have to be way different than anything we have now to be enjoyable.

    • Have you seen a video on youtube called “World Builder”?
      It is amazing, it shows someone building a virtual reality world.

      • YES! That shows one of the astounding examples of creativity in VR/VW.

        It is the interface I think it must have that I think LEAP Motion could do. – (Ugh! excuse the tenses in that sentence…)

        • Exactly, the great and very very very exciting thing is that we already have many of the technologies that can make most of that video happen.
          Or to say the least, we’re pretty close and that reality is getting closer all the time.
          Not only do I love that they show what could be possible, but they also choose to show it being used for something very sweet and nice.
          Mind you, many of the ways the man uses to build reminded me a LOT of SL.

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