Above us only digital sky: Augmenting Real Life

Time for my second post. This post is a lot later than expected; I still haven’t got this blogging down yet.

As part of the fun new tech we have been purchasing at Carleton, we managed to get a hold of a Hololens. Unlike the HTC Vive, which is VR, the Hololens is AR (Augmented Reality). The Hololens is an impressive piece of kit and one I am the most excited about. According to Microsoft (its developer), the Hololens is “the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you.” In normal terms, it is a tiny computer attached to a set of glass lenses, which look like a very futuristic headset.

These lenses are where the magic happens. The Hololens has three layered screens for Red, Green and Blue channels, which are combined to render full-color objects. The onboard computer uses an inertial measurement unit to calculate the location of you and the “holographic” object within your surrounds. This technology work in a similar way to AR on your cell phone with games like Pokemon Go and Ingress.

The Hololens opens up some fascinating teaching possibilities. Unlike the Vive and VR, which is very isolating and a single users experience, the Hololens and AR can be developed to be a multi-user experience. This multi-user experience enables to each Hololens to view the same 3D, providing some exciting possibilities within the class.

One of the first projects we worked on was to develop an AR model of the Piper J3 Cub used to train Carleton students in the 1940-50s. This was a part of a museum display for Sesquicentennial celebrations. The original idea of this project was to utilize the VR and HTC Vive, but I felt the Hololens would be more fun for visitors and would still allow them to be present within the space. Thank you to PEPS for editing one of my favorite videos using the Hololens.

Video from Piper Cub J3 (https://vimeo.com/189338455). Watch this space for more fun videos!

 

Student Post: Adam Kral on AR and VR Development

Guest post by Adam Kral (’20) on his summer work for Academic Technology.

So far over the summer I have been working on two projects: an augmented reality app to display images related to Buddhism and a sky diving simulator in virtual reality. Both projects have been built using the Unity game engine. The Buddhism app started with a two-dimensional slider that manipulated an image above it, as shown below.

screenshot of Buddhism app in development

I then converted this app to use augmented reality using AR Toolkit 5. When the camera is shown the background image, the images are now shown in three-dimensional space. The slider has been replaced with a joystick to manipulate the images. The finished product is shown below.

screenshot of Buddhism time app at end of phase 1

In addition to this AR app, I have been building a virtual reality sky diving simulator for the HTC Vive. The player controls their drag, x-y movement, and rotation via the movement of the controllers. This movement is tracked by determining the controllers’ positional relation to the headset. There is still work that needs to be done, such as adding colliders and textures to buildings. Some screenshots from inside the headset are below.

Steam Powered Goggles

HTC Vive controls on carpeted floor

So this will be my first post for this blog, actually thinking about it probably my first ever blog post. Never having wrote a post before is a strange position to be in for a computer/technology geek, but I think blogs just past me by. Anyway I should get on with what I planned on writing.

Janet Russell using the HTC Vive VR setup
Janet, using the HTC Vive, pets a dog in virtual reality.
It has definitely been a fun few weeks for me, with lots of boxes and new tech to open. With the addition of the 3D printer last week, am I very excited about the new box on my desk today. It is going to be a great addition to our technology provisions here at Carleton and Academic Technology. The title of this post is a very geeky reference to this new piece of kit….

Being the computer geek that I am, I was very excited to receive the Vive. The Vive is one of the new generation of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. Started by the successful Oculus Rift Kickstarter, this next generation of VR headsets are very different to the early 1990s counterparts. Rather than very basic graphics and simple polygons, these new headsets are capable of streaming two HD images into either eye giving the impression of depth within the 3D scene.

Paula uses the HTC Vive headset and controllers
Paula takes aim at red globes
First project: a VR model of the Piper J3 Cub used to train Carleton students in the 1940-50s as part of a museum display for Sesquicentennial celebrations. Visitors will be able to view the model in a hanger setting and from the flight seat.

Come and experience VR for yourself either by visiting the Sesquicentennial museum exhibition or pop along to the ideaLab during our open house on Wednesday, September 21 from 12p-2p.