Sunday, December 3, 2023

Virtual Reality Is Now For Real

Janani Gopalakrishnan Vikram

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Closer home, Imaginate is building Lenz, a platform that enables building and experiencing VR content without writing a single line of code. “Lenz enables 3D artists and 360 video makers to host their content and offer the experiences to the general public,” says Satyanarayana. The Lenz platform is ready for internal evaluation and they are testing it with some of the top-tier corporations. With Lenz as the core platform, they are also developing different products for different use-cases by customising and changing the user experience as required.

Of course, the use of content is still low, unless it can be shared. Industry giants are focusing on that, too. With existing VR platforms, it is quite easy for developers to create experiences, apps, games, etc using VR content and sell these through the relevant app stores. Videos can be shared through YouTube or Facebook.

In March, Google introduced VR View, which lets developers to easily embed 360-degree VR photos and videos on Android, iOS and the Web.

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According to a blog post by Nathan Martz, product manager, Google, “For native apps, you can embed a VR view by grabbing the latest Cardboard SDK for Android or iOS and adding a few lines of code. On the Web, embedding a VR view is as simple as adding an iframe on your site. We are open-sourcing the HTML and JavaScript for Web developers on GitHub, so you can self-host and modify it to match your needs.”

More to it than entertainment

When Facebook bought Oculus, Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face, just by putting on goggles in your home.”

Yes, it is these kinds of real applications that are going to make VR a part of everybody’s life, not simply gaming or entertainment. The trend has already begun, in a big way, not just globally but in India, too.

At Facebook’s annual developer conference, Zuckerberg spoke about many of their VR plans. In the future, people will be able to interact with things and places without actually buying the objects or travelling to the places. A US$ 1 app, for example, could do the job of an expensive television!

Google is trying to take students places with their new Expeditions Pioneer Program. Schools, when selected for the programme, will be provided with Google Cardboard viewers, materials and related training, so that they can take virtual educational tours. Google has developed over 100 exciting journeys, from outer space to museums and the world under the ocean. Once a school decides on a schedule for the virtual expeditions, Google volunteers will arrive at the venue to help the teachers and ensure that children have a smooth and enjoyable experience without any glitches.

photo 3
Google Jump assembles 360 videos that allow users to experience a scene in every direction

We are seeing several innovative applications closer home, too. Common Floor, a real-estate company, has developed a VR app available on Google Play, which lets users visit properties virtually without moving out of their home. Common Floor also sells a Cardboard based headgear called Retina. The views are as if you are at the venue itself, but save you the hassle of travelling here and there to view multiple properties.

Imaginate is developing VR content and intends to be a repository for educational content. “I am personally excited about using VR as a virtual training or experiential medium for several use cases, such as training—be it in manufacturing, automobile, psychiatry, physiotherapy, education of all sorts, etc,” says Satyanarayana. There is a growing market for VR in India, and Imaginate has been developing cutting-edge solutions for several B2B enterprises in fields like marketing, engineering, automation, training and defence.

Way back in 2004, Satyanarayana developed an AR based liver surgery apparatus using a device called LitEye (like Google Glass), which enabled a surgeon performing open-liver surgeries to see through a liver and identify the tumours hidden inside.


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