While current VR headsets mainly thrive on gaming, Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Holographic devices certainly look like they’ll have a big emphasis on production, much like its HoloLens developer kit already does.
VertoStudio VR is another app that supports that theory. It’s a just-released 3D modelling app that allows you to either create or import 3D files, present them in mixed reality on HoloLens, and then manipulate them using the headset’s gesture controls. Check out the video below to see how it works, though pay particular attention to the second half of the clip where the developer demonstrates just how you to shape and change models beyond simple scaling and rotation.
At first you might wonder why this alternative is better than simply editing these models on a tablet or PC, but the ability to alter polygons with a pinch of your fingers and then see those changes as if a product was actually sitting in front of you has genuine use.
“Nothing compares to the ability of having depth perception and real world scale when modeling,” says creator Michael Farrell over email. “This especially holds true when you have a physical copy of the object you are trying to model in front of you. There’s nothing else like it.”
Farrell tells me that the VR version of his productivity app has been in the works for about seven months in his spare time. Now that it’s done, he’s looking to get it into the hands of as many HoloLens users as possible. In fact, as he says in the video below, he won’t be happy unless most owners pick it up.
“In order for this to feel successful almost every single person that has a HoloLens has to buy this app,” he says, before admitting that’s likely unrealistic.
One factor that will mean Farrell has some convincing to do is the price. VertoStudio VR costs $100 on the Windows Store, which actually sounds reasonable for a productivity app, even if he describes settling on the price as a “hard” decision.
“The first influence was the price point of the Google sketch up viewer which, when I last checked, was around $1500,” he explains. “This established a market ceiling for me because I knew that they must have settled on that point based on market research and data that I simply didn’t have access to. That, the exclusivity of my features, and my own time investment are what led me to my $100 price point.”
But there is one thing that could expand Farrell’s audience exponentially: Microsoft’s upcoming VR headsets, made in partnership with companies like Dell and Lenovo. With starting prices set to be a tenth of the $3,000 HoloLens developer kit, and full compatibility with the Windows Holographic OS, these devices could be where VertoStudio really shines.
Fortunately, Farrell says his software could launch on VR headsets “very quickly”.
“I would have to modify the app slightly to handle controller based selection instead of gaze targeting,” he says. “I would also have to provide some sort of VR environment so the user isn’t working in a black space.”
For now, the developer is taking a short break from the project, but he’ll look into VR implementation when he returns. Maybe we’ll see more from the app after developer kits for the Windows VR headsets start shipping at GDC next month.