Maps for VR. Alpha support for Oculus DK2By Tim Jenks on 11th June 2015 | VR
Throughout late 2014 and early 2015 a couple of us in engineering have been experimenting with using our 3D mapping platform to create maps for VR.
Today, we’re happy to present our work-in-progress VR experiment as an open-source integration of the eeGeo SDK and the Oculus OSX SDK.
VR is all about presence. That uncanny-valley feeling when your brain tricks you that you’re really there. Today, VR developers are focused on two things: Firstly, performance. Performance in the pursuit of presence.
We believe we have presence starting to emerge in VR mapping:
You can stand atop the empire state building and look down. You’ll feel vertigo. Bad vertigo suffers probably won’t be able to bring themselves to peek over the edge at the street and moving vehicles below.
We can dangle you way above New York and then drop you. Your brain will tell you you’re falling to the city below. Some of our co-workers have given their young children a go around VR New York. You could see their little knees wobble as they’re falling about the place.
It’s only the start: but we believe we have presence starting to emerge in VR maps.
What really breaks presence is poor performance. Long frames leading to inconsistent framerate or just not hitting the refresh rate of the device. It completely ruins the experience.
Our SDK can run at 60Hz on mobile devices so we were not too concerned about performance issues. In VR however performance matters. With dual scene rendering for both eyes, and high refresh rates of the devices – you need to be hitting 75Hz or above.
We’ve spent a bit of time making sure we can hit stable 75Hz on an iMac 2014 – it’s good enough to not break the early emergence of presence. One headache was correct configuration/calibration of the DK2 on OSX with only ‘desktop extend’ capabilities in the driver, you need to do some tricks to get the best out of the device. We’ll blog about that soon.
Photogrammetric Maps in VR
Traditional photogrammetric maps don’t work very well in VR. It’s quite obvious you’re just looking at static 360o spherical photo.
In photogrammetric maps, you’re looking at static raster imagery with baked vehicles, people, shops, and trees that don’t move. It’s like you’ve hit the pause button – and it’s really noticeable in VR.
Our maps shine in VR: they’re a dynamic, living, virtual world. When you look at our maps through a VR headset they reflect the virtual real-world as it is now – not the real world as it was photographed at some point in the past.
All of our mapping coverage is available: over 20 million square kilometres of the world in VR. The entirety of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Barcelona, Rio, Sao Paulo, Melbourne, and Paris.
Our lashup integration of the eeGeo SDK & Oculus OSX SDK is now available as an open-source repo on github.. Get cloning. Give it a go. Let us know what you think.