Virtual Reality

Learning virtual reality

I have been learning how to create virtual reality scenes through Udacity’s VR Developer Nanodegree. A lot of my Interactive Media students have been interested recently in 3D design, and I have been wanting to learn more about Unity for game design, so this seemed like a good opportunity to get familiar with both. I’m not sure what I’ll ultimately do with virtual reality—maybe a virtual art installation or an interactive narrative. I’m actually more interested in augmented and mixed reality, but I’ll save that for another post. Right now, I’m having fun just kind of playing around with VR and learning some new skills.

So far I’ve completed two VR projects. The first was just a basic “Hello World” type project in which I worked out all the frustrating kinks of getting my development environment working and successfully deploying to an Android phone. The second project was a little more interesting—it’s a virtual reality apartment.

A top-down view of a 3D rendered apartment.
There it is.
A 3D rendered office scene.
Virtual offices are much less cluttered than real offices.

You can’t do anything other than move around and look at the furniture. But it’s exciting to be creating a place on my laptop, and then be in that place.

Screenshot showing a stereoscopic image of a 3D rendered kitchen.
Screenshot of the app running on Android. If you look at this through a Google Cardboard viewer, this appears as one 3D image.

The most challenging thing about this project was getting everything aligned perfectly so nothing is overlapping and objects are sitting right on top of other surfaces. You’d think there would be an easy shortcut for this, but it’s more difficult than it sounds (at least with my current knowledge of Unity). I had a lot of success with vertex snapping, but with some objects that didn’t quite do the trick and I ended up just eyeballing it.

Close up of Unity interface, trying to align a globe to its stand.
Eyeballing stuff in three dimensions is a pain in the ass.
Unity interface showing books aligned together.
Look at that book alignment, tho.

If you know how to install an APK file on your Android phone and you have a Google Cardboard viewer, you can check out the scene for yourself. It’s up on my github.

Selfie of me wearing a Google Cardboard headset.
I don’t know what’s real anymore.

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