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Thread: I tried the HTC Vive!

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    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default I tried the HTC Vive!

    I got to try the Vive twice this past weekend. It was really amazing. I'll definitely be purchasing it.

    I got to try TheBlu, Job Simulator, Tiltbrush, and the Portal Demo. The Secret Shop was not an option probably because of the uncontrolled amount of time it takes (is my guess).

    Let me know if you have any questions, but here is was my experience.

    It was not mind blowing or life changing, but definitely game changing. The field of view needs to be increased just a little bit for it to be more immersive, but presence is easily achieved.

    TheBlu is fun, but doesn't really make use of the controllers. You walk around and wait for the whale to come. The space I was in was a little limited in size, so there were only two points that I could get to where I could look off the bow of the ship. It's a diorama, it's beautiful, and it's a perfect into to VR since you don't have to think about your hands or doing anything at all, but there's no other reason to play it. But any reason I have to criticize it is thrown out by the fact that it's a tech demo.

    Job Simulator is really fun. There's a moment when I remembered what the devs had said about it, that some people go about the tasks, and others throw stuff around. As soon as I started throwing stuff across the room I laughed out loud. Picking things up in VR just feels right. It's something we do every day. It's easy. And it feels like magic when you get to do it in a virtual space for the first time.

    Tiltbrush is really compelling. Making things in VR is incredibly enjoyable. I could play Tiltbrush for hours. I see art and creative games/toys as being a really powerful VR concept. I'll be looking for more of those experiences after getting my Vive.

    The Portal demo is super high fidelity. I wished I could just pause and look at everything up close. [spoiler] When Atlas walks in I moved out of the way for him. My brain knows it's fake but it's just habit, you just move when stuff is coming toward you. There's also a psychological trick going on where the Valve guys must know that people make way for people who are hurt. There's also a moment near the end when the floor drops out from beneath you. I stood at the edge of the void and looked over the edge. I know there's a floor there, but it's just instinct.[/spoiler]

    The Portal demo makes me realize that VR is a bit like a thrill ride. Thrill rides make your lizard brain say you're in danger, but your conscious brain says you're fine, so the fear becomes outright fun. VR does that same thing. You can look over a void and get vertigo. Things can fly past your head, but you still know it's safe, so you giggle and smile.

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    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    Great to see VR making a strong comeback push. The technology and computer power have seriously caught up to the point it will become a standard in many homes and not just university labs. I have several friends still making software for the HMD's and pinch gloves. I've also seen many programs that will completely mess your head up due to the disconnect between the visual and inner ear conflict.

    How long did you get to play around? VR sickness starts to set in between 20 and 45 minutes in most people and some folks get physically ill after less than 1/2 an hour. The flight and drive simulators are the worst...

    Many years ago when I was running the VR labs at SGI, we got all the cool demos (mostly full programs) to play with, including a job flow simulator. Start tossing parts around and the program would end with a poor grade report. In one of my labs (The Engineering Reality Center) we had a 10' x 27' parabolic screen with 3d glasses for everyone in attendance (held 30 people comfortably). It was funny to see people leaning and dodging things in the VR world.

    I still have my HMD and pinch glove setup, but have not used them in a while. I think they are 768x1024 resolution using CRT's in front of each eye.

    Do you have any pictures of the device and your experience?
    "...Dumb all over, A little ugly on the side... "...Frank Zappa...

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    Anodized. Again. Konrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    Pretty impressive specs - two 2160x1200 @ 90Hz, 1080x1200 up to 90fps per eyeball? Uses lasers (because lasers are just way cooler than stupid WiFi!), even has full HDMI, etc.

    It looks kinda large and really heavy, though, at least it must feel heavy and strain your neck after wearing it for a while. All those slick futuristic Enterprise-like plastics can't really hide the fact that it's basically strapped and muzzled across your whole face like some kind of leather medieval torture toy.

    It makes me wonder - if consumer markets are experimenting with this sort of stuff, what sort of HUD/VR awesomeness is available for military and aerospace use?
    My mind says Technic, but my body says Duplo.

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    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    Quote Originally Posted by Airbozo View Post
    How long did you get to play around? VR sickness starts to set in between 20 and 45 minutes in most people and some folks get physically ill after less than 1/2 an hour. The flight and drive simulators are the worst...

    I still have my HMD and pinch glove setup, but have not used them in a while. I think they are 768x1024 resolution using CRT's in front of each eye.

    Do you have any pictures of the device and your experience?
    I got there at 7:30AM for a 10AM demo. I was maybe expecting someone else to be there . . . but no. I was alone for an hour and by 10AM there were only 5 people. I guess I was projecting my own anticipation onto others.



    Around 9:45 they passed around a dummy headset to try on. The picture below is right after I had taken it off and handed it to the guy behind me. He's laughing because I told him the current demo was a "deep space" simulator (it's completely black inside).



    The demo is about 20 minutes. It feels more like 5-10. My only other VR experience was Google cardboard on my iPhone 4, which never made me sick, but definitely "weird" after about 20 minutes.

    In terms of hardware, motion sickness should no longer be an issue. The combination of low latency (22ms), high refresh rate (90hz), sub mm tracking, and low persistent displays have essentially eliminated it. That doesn't mean that devs can't find ways to make you sick anyway (poor movement, simulating being on a boat, moving your avatar (camera) around in unexpected ways), but that's an issue unrelated to hardware. The other issue that I'm sure we'll see in the wild is people without the proper computer hardware to push 90hz at 2160x1200. When framerates drop below 75hz people start to get sick.

    But obviously this was a very controlled demo so none of those things happened.


    Quote Originally Posted by Konrad View Post
    It looks kinda large and really heavy, though, at least it must feel heavy and strain your neck after wearing it for a while.
    It feels pretty light as is, and will be both lighter, and closer to your face (shorter moment arms) when the consumer version launches. They're also moving some of the other hardware to the back of the head (similar to project Morpheus) to help balance the load.

    The biggest design issue I've heard about is sweat. To block outside light it's completely sealed. If it's hot then you're likely to sweat which can be rough. Some developers have complained and are working on DIY solutions.

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    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    Very cool, thanks!

    VR sickness has less to do with fidelity and more to do with the disconnect between what the brain "perceives" as motion and the inner ear not agreeing. The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign VR team spent months in our labs and Reality Center conducting tests with over a hundred people to verify the disconnect. They also did tests on a motion base simulator under similar conditions and the affects of VR sickness were almost null (they attributed the small occurrences to the fact that the visuals and motion base were not quite synced as the "real world" would be).

    This article describes it best:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_reality_sickness

    It also points out that there is a difference between VR sickness and Simulator sickness.

    We were told not to allow people more than 15 minutes of VR or simulator time to beginners and planned our presentations to break up the amount of time spent on VR Demo's. I would guess that is why your demo was kept to 20 minutes. Some people seem to have minimal issues and other bail after less than 5 minutes. More than once I had to clean up someones mess. Usually from the truck driving simulator for training new drivers or one of the flight simulators

    I am currently a member of the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality group which meets regularly for talks and demos. They also have a Launch Pad series which helps startups pitch ideas. http://svvr.com/
    "...Dumb all over, A little ugly on the side... "...Frank Zappa...

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    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    I think the reason for the short demo time was just to get enough people through. The demos are supposed to be 20 minutes total, which includes getting the HMD on and off. They had 3 rooms so they can only get 9 people an hour. They were open from 10AM to 8PM, so really they're only looking at 90 demos a day.

    But less than 20 minutes really isn't enough time for people to get a feel for VR. My demos felt like they were five minutes each.

    The Job Simulator demo is pretty low fidelity in terms of polygons/style, but there was a high level of "presence" because the hand tracking is so good.

    On sickness, this article from Valve talks about why low persistence is necessary. Essentially, without it you'd get "judder". Your eyes would be seeing an old image while your head was moving. Because the image was "on" most of the time your head would move (and move the image with it), but the image wouldn't change. This disparity in what your ear and proprioception are telling you vs what the image is telling you will make you sick. The same goes for low frame rate. Below a certain threshold the frame rate won't keep up with your movements and you'll get sick for the same reasons.

    The other thing I mentioned above was described by the guy behind me in line. He said that on rare occasions he would move the joystick to the right, so his avatar would move, but he was also being tracked in 3D space and moved to the left a little bit. He said that if he didn't watch himself to avoid doing this he would get sick really quickly. The wiki article describes it as, "when there is disparity in apparent motion between the visual and vestibular stimuli. Essentially what happens is there is a disagreement between what the stimuli from the eyes send to the brain and what the stimuli from the inner ear are sending to the brain."

    So I'm with you 100%. Screen resolution and the graphical fidelity of the virtual environment don't affect sickness at all. But I'm saying that the things that do cause VR sickness are no longer the fault of the HMD hardware or tracked controllers. So VR sickness is now in the hands of the developers to make sure that they don't design games that are likely to make someone puke.

    As it is, I've been reading accounts of people who got sick on the Oculus rift DK1 and DK2 that can play for hours on the Vive without any signs of getting sick. The hardware really is ready at this point.

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    Yuk it up Monkey Boy! Airbozo's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    Thanks for the response. Very good info.

    When I was at SGI, we determined the lowest possible frame rate to avoid any ghosting or blurring was 60 fps. Anything less than that and people got sick fast. My Reality Center had 3 projectors that would do 120 fps and you had to try really hard to see any dropped frames or blurring (I always thought it was due to programming issues not hardware). At the time it took one SGI supercomputer per projector to generate the images needed for 120fps. Edge blending and color/brightness correction took me almost 2 days a month to calibrate. I usually spent a couple of hours a week fine tuning. The VR tables (holodesks) were similar with only one projector. Once the DLP's came out, my job got easier.
    "...Dumb all over, A little ugly on the side... "...Frank Zappa...

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    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    Crazy. Those setups were like $50k each right. So you had $150k of hardware to keep calibrated at all times. That's nuts.

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    Anodized. Again. Konrad's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    I'm expecting the "consumer version" will cost somewhat less than $50k, lol.

    Can't say I really understand the precise difference between "VR sickness" and "Simulator sickness", although I'm reading up on it a bit. I've certainly experienced the latter many times, lol. But my only experience with VR immersion was with primitive tech from last decade, no kind of VR sickness but plenty of frozen zombie slouching, you hardly dared to move your head or shift your posture with that twitchy jerky low-res junk.

    Does this Vive have a front-facing camera? Is it capable of reproducing "normal" vision along with a techno-enhanced overlay (is it ready for installation in a Skynet Model 101)? Or is it limited to entirely artificial environments?

    What sorts of applications are these people thinking about? As in, what do they hope people can accomplish with this VR more efficiently than traditional computer interfaces? Is it predominantly targeted at entertainment and gaming? Or are they just sort of planning to put the tech out there to let the world figure out what to do with it?
    My mind says Technic, but my body says Duplo.

  10. #10
    Undead Pirate d_stilgar's Avatar
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    Default Re: I tried the HTC Vive!

    It has two front facing cameras stacked on top of each other. As of yet their use has been speculation only. I have my own theories, but we'll see.

    For now I think the focus is on entertainment. I don't see any serious tools yet that have VR included in the production pipeline. So while it may have practical use in architecture, art, visual effects, etc., until there are tools to integrate VR with industry tools it will be a tool for consuming media, not creating it.

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