Having watched VR evolve over the last few years and the steady pace of month after month improvements to all aspects of the industry, I’m a little surprised by the pace of current advancements. NVIDIA and AMD just announced cheaper and more powerful silicon chips tuned for VR, Valve just released its rendering tools that can push high quality 90 frames per second VR onto older machines, HP and others are developing smaller backpack PCs for wireless walk-around VR. Samsung is pumping out a tiny 4K display just for VR while lowering the barrier to entry into VR even lower than a free headset, making it possible for someone to buy a complete Oculus-powered VR system for $0 up front.
It seems almost every day now VR is getting cheaper to buy or easier to build, and the release of Epic’s Unreal Engine 4.12 this week marks another important milestone on the path to mainstream mixed reality adoption. The latest version officially includes a preview for the VR Editor, an initial interface for manipulating a scene while immersed in VR.
The VR Editor, like a similar tool being developed for Unity, is a critical step toward making VR scene creation so easy that anyone can do it. It arrives alongside support for Google’s upcoming Daydream mobile VR platform and the Vulkan mobile renderer.
Before the VR Editor, developers had to place objects within a world using a keyboard and mouse and then don a headset to see how it looks — a time-consuming process of trial and error. Now developers can accomplish a number of tasks using the VR Editor to manipulate the world while inside of it. Think about how easy it is to redecorate your house by moving picture frames from one shelf to another. Even something a simple as decorating a room that will be seen in VR is incredibly difficult using a keyboard and mouse.
Natural hand, arm and finger movements in VR will be able to unlock the creativity in practically anyone, and the arrival of the Unreal VR Editor is an important step along that path.