Undoubtedly EEVR II was a blast. With three presentations, 30 people and a room full of different hardware and software demos, the Estonian VR community was in for a real treat this time around. New ideas were shared, new acquaintances met and new realities experienced. Pictures from the event can be found here (by Kertu Saar), video below.
First up in the talking sessions was soon-to-be-MSc Madis Vasser with a quick overview of the status quo of VR in psychological science and at Tartu University. He demonstrated the flood of different headsets on the market, yet there seems to be less focus on accompanying software. He and a team of fellow students are working on a solution to bring researchers with less programming background closer to VR with a toolbox that makes creating virtual experiments much easier. Madis will most likely also attend the IEEE VR conference in France this march, so we’ll make sure he keeps a proper travel diary while abroad. For more info, shoot a message at email@example.com.
Next things got really nostalgic and futuristic at the same time with tech entrepreneur Peeter Nieler on stage. He drew a clear distinction between virtual reality environments and the means by which to experience them. With a short history lesson the audience got to see the parallel progress in both fields that now have begun to finally merge properly. Peeter also pointed out some reacurring names in the process, like Ivan Sutherland and John Carmack. Then the time was right to reveal his own plans for the future – making man run in virtual reality. More precisely, the Criffin RunPad. He went over the many concepts and prototypes that were tried before settling on a simple and effective solution (not shown here until the proper time). A fortcoming full-body tacking system was also briefly discussed. Those interested in more detaild information can get in touch: Peeter.Nieler@criffin.com
The final talk was from a full-time game dev Filipp Keks, who is well known in VR circles for his EvilMech Runner. The problems and lessons learned from that demo was also the main topic of Filipp’s presentation, most of it happening inside Unity game engine. We discussed the different solutions to issues like walking through virtual walls, cheating the step detection algorithm and staying in camera range while in VR. Filipp pulled together different clues to suggest that Oculus is heading in the direction of a standing experience with the consumer version of the Rift. He finished with a call for action to all the developers to help make his freely available code better. Follow the link: https://github.com/taphos/oculus-natural-movement.
The demo sessions can be summarized with the words of one of the participants: “I have never seen so many Oculus Rifts together in one room!” Criffin had their latest prototypes on display for anyone to try out, this included a full body tracking system and two cool RunPads (ideally suited for Filipp’s EvilMech runner!). Madis held the first public test of his change blindness experiment, where one must spot changes in a virtual room (a devilishly difficult task), somewhat resembling Sightline: the Chair demo. Siim Raidma was back once again with his laser turret battle, this time with added multiplayer support! People were also stunned by Ambient Flight and couldn’t get enough of paragliding over the mountaintops (wind effects included). Keeping things down to earth, Keijo Koort brought out his impressive collection of driving games from Euro Truck simulator to Project Cars and Assetto Corsa. One players was so immersed he nearly killed the gear shift. Also, the funky music from a cool top-down shooter Nighttime Terror filled the room constantly. After three hours of fun and games people were ready to return to present reality.