Google’s Owlchemy Labs just revealed one of its experiments using ARCore on a phone to offer a spectator view into the upcoming game Vacation Simulator.
We’ve just come from Oculus Connect 5 where Facebook’s teams demonstrated a series of experiments that together included full body tracking, arena-scale movement freedom and mixed reality which incorporates real objects into the virtual world. In addition, they had an iPad set up which could look into the virtual world shared by the six players in VR.
Owlchemy’s experiment seems to encapsulate the same basic premise as the iPad portion of Facebook’s tech demonstration. Owlchemy only tried this experiment with ARCore, but in theory the same idea should work with Apple’s ARKit too. A blog post from Owlchemy breaks down exactly how hard it would be to add this to VR systems in the near future. According to the post:
The feature adds quite a bit of performance overhead to the PC with additional rendering and video encoding. The mobile device is also heavily taxed by simultaneously running ARCore and decoding video. Additionally, latency is noticeable due to the encoding/decoding process and round-trip delay time. These are just a few of the challenges we’ve noted, but we think it’s just as important to share these findings as part of the experimentation process.
Owlchemy was purchased by Google last year but has stayed pretty independent as work continued on Vacation Simulator — its follow up building upon the “insanely reusable” pieces of Job Simulator. Their mobile spectator camera — while only a concept at this point — also shows some interesting ideas for interaction.
Not only can another player interact with someone in VR this way, but it is also possible for the phone to be used to take a picture just like the real world. The PC sends the phone a high resolution selfie whenever you click the button to take the photo on the phone.
Devin Reimer, Ben Hopkins, and Ryan Dawson directly worked on the spectator camera for Owlchemy Labs. They’ve come a long way from mixed reality that Owlchemy helped pioneer in PC VR’s earlier days, but a representative also made clear the mobile spectator app is just a research project and “we don’t currently have any plans to release it.”
Update: Post updated with additional details provided by Owlchemy Labs.