Virtual Reality

In trying the HTC Vive, the thing I liked the most was using the Tilt Brush – drawing and creating in a 3D space. I liked how it forced me to draw something in its entirety, not just the flat 2D perspective. For example, if I were to draw a house and then walk inside of it, I’d have to think about what the house looked like from the inside, the outside, and all 4 walls. As someone creating on a 2D space, I force the viewer to observe the piece in a certain way. In the 3D space I lose a lot of that ability. What I also liked was the ability to play back someone else’s drawing. This places so much more emphasis on the process and observing someone else at work and making mistakes. I like that I can literally put myself in someone else’s shoes and follow their actions step by step. To expand on the experience, I would want the ability to stop, slow, rewind, etc. in following someone else’s process to really use it as an educational tool. I would also want the ability to look at something in the real world and try to draw it. For example, if I go to draw a mountain in the VR realm of Tilt Brush, I am only drawing the mountain from my memory, as opposed to drawing the mountain by looking at it.


The piece of VR that I liked the least was the limited sensory feedback to go with the very immersive visual environment. For example, I wanted to be feeling the textures, heat, and weight of something as I held it. I wanted to feel the swoosh in the water as the whale tale flew by me. When skiing down the mountain, I wanted to feel the pull of gravity as I flew off the cliff. The design team could create a room where you do VR to give you the illusion of some of these senses. For example, a room could have wind and/or rain functionality. A room could have different forces (ex: tipping side to side) to give the illusion of the various forces that the user is experiencing in the game. The user could also have gloves or a bodysuit that changes heat or somehow gives varying senses of texture. As shown in the video and discussed in the reading, physical blocks can be used in the physical world, paired with image manipulation to give the user the illusion that they are playing with multiple blocks and physically touching them, but actually only playing with a single block.

RR06 – HTC Vive and VR experiences

The HTC Vive experience was significantly more impressive than I had expected. Having tried out an early version of the Oculus Rift, I was expecting incremental improvements over that system, rather than the enormous gains made by the Vive, especially in terms of interactivity and realism. It passed the “bat-twitch” test for me, as Wired called it. For instance, in the whale encounter, I was a bit worried what was going to happen when it flapped its tail, and I think I flinched quite a bit. Although my favorite part was the TiltBrush, and being able to draw with any number of tools and really move around within my creation. It feels like such a boon for creativity, to be able to create something and see it immediately (like the best parts of coding, being able to test whether your code works immediately, and see results), vs. say, painting with oils or photography with film.

I think the areas for enhancement are tied to the areas I found lacking: namely, having a sense for where I was in space, and wanting to stop worrying about crashing into something or tripping over the cable near my feet. Those worries kept me from being physically free in a way that would translate to the VR experience. I also think it could be improved by making it more social. It was fun to have people’s voices present from the room in my experience, and to have reassurance that I wasn’t going to hurt myself, but I haven’t yet tried any VR experiences that allow for multiple people, and I think that would really enhance the experience. Those seem to already exist, based on the Wired article, so it would be neat to get to try them. I think improvements in processing and battery power will soon be able to address some of the issues with physicality and cables and tethering.

One additional thing that I do worry about, but didn’t while having the experience:

“One of the underappreciated aspects of synthetic reality is that every virtual world is potentially a total surveillance state. By definition, everything inside a VR or MR world is tracked. After all, the more precisely and comprehensively your body and your behavior are tracked, the better your experience will be.”

As someone at the I School, I feel it’s important for us to pay attention to the issue of privacy and surveillance, as well. Do these teams have privacy practitioners on them? Should we be creating a framework here, or at least be thinking about one?

RR 06 – HTC Vive Experience

The best part that I enjoy HTC Vive is the part where I get to create/paint a 3D object. The painting application not only contain conventional paint brush for the users to paint their objects but also provide other paint brushes such as smoke, rainbow, stars, etc. This make me felt that I was not only painting an object but rather more like decorating a space where all sorts of imagination is possible. Furthermore, within the application I was able to take a snapshot of my work and share it with other people I wish to share after my experience. In addition, an other application that I enjoyed was the flying experience application where it stimulate the movement  of an object flying in between the clouds. I enjoy the application because although my body was not physically moving as the view, I still felt the movement as the setting changes. The application showed the attempt of the development team trying to combine VR applications with sports. The application show me the potential of VR in the sports domain.
On the other hand, one aspect that I didn’t enjoy was the solitary part of using VR. While experiencing VR because of its physical and functional constraints I was not able to interact with other people even when other people are in the same room with me. I will be great if I may interact with other people while using the VR. Another aspect that the design team didn’t address is the physical relationship with other objects in the room while using VR. There were several occasions where had other people not warned me about other objects in the room, I would have bumped into them. As a result, it will greatly enhance my experience if the design team address this issue.

VR experience

During the experience of trying HTC Vive, I liked the Tilt Brush the most. I am always a little bit scared of sketching on paper. Without any training or practices of drawing, I am afraid that I would make mistake and I couldn’t control the movement of fingers precisely to transfer what is in my mind to what is on the paper. I think Tilt Brush made the creative process less intimidating. I used my whole body to draw, by moving my foot, arms, hand and fingers all together, the drawing process seemed more intuitive than just moving my fingers on paper. I was also fascinated by the different effects of my brushes, such as fire, snow and papers. They seemed so real and I am more emotionally attached to the drawing process than drawing 2D images. I would improve the gravity or resistance simulation to make it more realistic to a real world.

I think the Tilt Brush control panel could be improved a little bit. The menu is a bit confusing and I got lost when I accidentally clicked on a button, and couldn’t figure out how to go back to my previous sketch. Maybe instead of having the control panel as a 2D menu, it could be a 3D fitting room, I can go into the room to change my equipments.

Enhancing Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality

The best VR experience I had with HTC Vive is that it feels so real with the vision simulation that I didn’t dare to step too close or step beyond a simulated robot standing right in front of me. Even though I thought some part of my rationality at that time still knew that VR is a fictional environment, but my eyes have believe there is a robot right in front of me that I can’t just step across its body.

However, when I finally decided to push my hand against that robot, there is no resistant force prevent my hand moving through the robot body. This could be something to be enhanced. For example, haptics could be used to enhance this part of the VR experience. One illustration is the video “Haptic Retargeting: Dynamic Repurposing of Passive Haptics for Enhanced Virtual Reality”, where a single box could create realistic haptic feedback.

There are also some down sides of my experience with HTC Vive. I feel that I lost my senses of orientation and direction in the real world when I was immersed in the VR environment. This causes issues since I couldn’t perceive through vision that I was probably too close to a wall or if I messed up with the cables on the ground. However, to solve this issue, I feel that the mixed reality technology developed by Magic Leap could be a great opportunity. By overlapping virtual reality with the real environment, it makes user feel more realistic and always being aware of what’s going on in the surrounding real environment.

RR06: VR

As you have experienced the HTC Vive, 1) What was the part of the experience you liked most? How might you enhance or expand the experience? 2) What was the part of your experience you liked least and how might the design team address/improve it?

I observed people this previous week while they interacted with the HTC Vive within virtual reality; however, I have used the HTC Vive before to explore terrains, as well as illustrate in TiltBrush. The experience I liked most was being able to explore environments (essentially, new worlds) within virtual reality, and truly feel like I am there. I’m a gamer with an active imagination, and so I couldn’t help myself from thinking about the worlds I could see, what environments that are currently inaccessible to me would then be accessible. I might try to expand on this aspect of exploration by exploring modes of transportation, and making that experience feel as real as other features are.

The part of my experience I liked the least was actually creating in TiltBrush. I think the concept is fun and allows barriers to be broken down with regard to accessibility to drawing/creativity. Where it breaks for me is the difficulty with depth perception. I don’t know how deep my brush is in this limitless canvas, and that directly affects how my creation will unfold. As a design intervention, aside from visual cues within the virtual environment, I would think a tensile sensor would be helpful on your arm. The further your reach, the more tension/resistance is applied to your arm. I can see how this would be limiting to free form drawing, which is unfortunate. But the lack of depth perception cues when you haven’t assigned a focal point in 3D space (such as a rock, or a model to draw AROUND) is quite frustrating.


Enhancing VR experiences

As someone who spent more time observing others immersed in the VR world during the recent sessions, what I absolutely loved about the whole experience was the incredible capacity of the brain to complete unconnected stimuli and form a coherent impression of the immediate world. For example, standing on the edge of Vesper Peak was enough to trigger the fear of heights in one particular user, despite them being at no risk of falling down a cliff. When Kimiko slightly nudged another user off balance, their brain combined the vision of being on the edge of a mountain and being unstable to very dangerous and hence, they started flailing. This also reminded me of some of the VR rides in Universal Studios where the roller-coaster car is not actually moving anywhere but by tilting it and creating an impression of motion combined with synchronized virtual imagery, it conveys to the brain that you are actually in an animated roller-coaster. This begs the question as to why some rollercoasters (Six Flags) have VR headsets on riders as they seem to underestimate the capacity of the brain to connect these virtual stimuli.

What I liked least about the VR experience was there are still audio limitations where it becomes difficult to create a completely immersive experience. The trouble with headphones was that users would not be able to listen to the conductors of the experiment. How users may benefit from an immersive audio experience is that they might start to spatially relate the source of sound and this creates a greater validation of the virtual space as being something realistic. The most intuitive solution would be to include a small microphone for the moderator to lead the user through the experiment; however, this solution would require validation on whether users prefer to be more disconnected with the real world when navigating the virtual world.

VR Experience

What I love most about VR experience is that it’s actually an “experience” itself. Going to different applications with HTC Vive brings me to different realities. This is drastically different than web experiences where most of the website gives me similar experiences. On the web, we are mostly just absorbing or contributing information on the network. With VR, the focus with information (images/texts,numbers) is lessened by something that’s more grand, an overall experience. I would love to enhance/expand the experience of VR by making more connection with the physical reality, which is basically what Magicleap is trying to do, creating a mixed reality.

The part of the experience I like the least is the headset, it makes my eyes and face sweaty and the wires would occasionally block my way. Making it wireless and making the headset less tangible would enhance the experience more. Also, if I pay a lot of attention to my peripheral sight then I can still gain a peak of the physical reality, which is distracting… removing such burden would also help the experience!

“Feeling” real in VR

While using the HTC Vive, I enjoyed it most when I pulled back a bow and felt the vibration and sound telling me that I had put in effort to pull back the bow. After shooting many arrows, my arm had actually started to feel tired (but not nearly as tired as I would be from shooting that many arrows in real life). To enhance it more, I would want to be able to lean over the parapet just enough to see down- the limited area of motion became annoying over time. However, for my first time playing, it was probably a good limitation that kept me from feeling sick.

The part I liked least was trying to figure out when to point and click, and when I should grab with the trigger. It wasn’t clear when each needed to be done. This will likely be solved as more VR games are created. They will need to come up with a common design language that will become as natural as moving a mouse on a computer.

HTC Vive Experience

Using the HTC Vive was my first, true experience with VR. In the past, I’ve used makeshift sets like Google Cardboard but now realized that that was a simple introduction into the true power of VR. I was truly impressed by this technology’s ability to completely transform my world into an underwater shipwreck next to a Blue whale or into an artist’s canvas where I could paint and draw in the air around me. Perhaps what was more fascinating was how realistic and true to a real-world experience using the VR headset actually was. I played fetch with a robot dog and looked over the edge of a cliff all from the basement of South Hall.

To enhance this experience, I think could be helpful to be able to adjust how close or far text and the art canvas appear. For example, one of the screens with text was too close and too large and hurt my eyes to read it. If I had the ability to control the distance between myself and some text, it would have been a more pleasant experience.

The part of my experience I liked least was the weight of the headset. After some time, the weight became too much and I had to remove it. To address it, a design team could revisit the materials used to build the technology, remove the unnecessary components, and they could also design slimmer and more comfortable hardware.