For more than 6 months engineers and designers at Google have created new VR experiences every week, on a mission to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
The tests provide Google’s internal team at Daydream Labs valuable first-hand experience on the path to developing a competitor to the Gear VR, which is powered by Facebook’s Oculus. Those 60 experiments developed over more than half a year became the subject of a session at Google I/O providing some very helpful insights to get Android developers jump-started into VR development with the upcoming Daydream platform.
If you have a half-hour to spare and plan on making a Daydream app, the video embedded above is certainly worth a watch. Using what looks like a combination of Vive equipment and Google’s own internal prototype hardware for Daydream, the experiments cover a range of ideas (including how to shut up trolls) that hint at some of the cool VR applications we might eventually see on phones that meet Google’s specifications.
Here’s are some of my favorites from the session:
Storytelling and design can be very easy to do in VR
Near the end of the presentation Google shows quick glimpses of very powerful concepts that show the company is thinking far beyond games when it comes to the usefulness of VR.
One of the magic powers of VR is the ability to design a whole building within a few minutes, like a set of Lego on a table, and then teleport inside of it to experience the way the space feels at real-world scale. The experiment is a hint that far more than just trained architects will be using the technology to create homes in the future.
Another experiment showed a person animating an entire story in VR the same way a child would play with toys. All you have to do is hit record, move around the toys, and then playback to record a computer generated scene. With skill, practice and additional tools, the approach could offer a hint at the way future stories are conceived.
Simple avatars can be very expressive
This is obvious if you’ve ever played a social experience in Gear VR, but very simple avatars (even a cardboard box with blinking googly eyes on it) can seem like it is alive if it is animated by real-life hand and head movements.
This means that with the right tools and a solid Internet connection, multiplayer VR experiences should become increasingly easy to make.
VR can bring out your inner playfulness…
And it’s a lot of fun to watch happen.
Job Simulator (review) on the Vive is one of the best examples of this on the market today, but a short clip showing a Google VR team member seemingly dancing and then sprawling on the floor while immersed in a VR experience underscores the sense of playfulness that can be unlocked in some of the best software.
Here is two people rocking out together in VR:
Vibration feedback is effective combined with visuals/sound
Whether it’s a first bump or drum typing game, vibration feedback can be used to enhance the feeling of presence within an experience.