VR related

  • Custom assets with Unity

    Today I've taken the time to clean up the architecture of my VR stars Unity app (I really have to find a name for this project!). One really cool Unity feature is the ability to create custom assets by scripts run in the editor, so you don't have to build complex structures at runtime.

    Why is this so fantastic? Well, usually I would read star positions, constellation data, etc. from data files at application startup, and then create appropriate data structures and meshes. Strictly speaking, this isn't necessary, since that data is essentially static. With Unity, I can now read all the data already at edit time, and create a complete "star sphere" with meshes for the constellations as a ready-to-use asset.

    As a bonus, this also allows me to investigate the created geometry and data structures in the editor (see the picture), without having to resort to runtime debug utilities. Very nice!

  • Pocket Observatory at Make Munich

    Pocket Observatory at Make Munich! Slipped in at the very last minute, and probably had the tiniest desk in the hall. But the response was great, I am still totally overwhelmed by the positive response and all the enthusiasm. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who came over to check out the app on Gear VR! Nice people, great conversations, useful feedback, and even more ideas for future development. After two days working the desk non-stop (together with my wonderful GF) I feel a little spent but very inspired :)

  • Pocket Observatory: Finalizing!

    Yes, I have decided on a name for my upcoming Gear VR astronomy app: Tadaa - Pocket Observatory! Seems it is getting to a decent stage... it's hard to stop adding features when new ideas pop up every five minutes, but this all has to wait for future releases. Now, it's all about polishing and optimizing!

    I found a really, really helpful guide to optimizing Gear VR apps on the Oculus developer blog: https://developer3.oculus.com/blog/squeezing-performance-out-of-your-unity-gear-vr-game/. This certainly saved me a few headaches.

    Here's a very first video impression of the app: https://youtu.be/G4tHM2v0NyY I was actually wondering how I could do a video such as this, but it turned out to be super easy: Integrate the platform menu provided with the OVR toolkit, and the function is available in the platform menu by pressing the back button :)

  • Pocket Observatory: wrapping up

    Haven't posted as many updates here as planned, because I was terribly busy finishing implementation. But I have started

    Now it's all about finishing materials for submission to the Oculus store, and setting up a landing page, etc. Coming soon!



  • The sun, the stars, the sky

    Slowly, but steadily, it's coming together. Since my upcoming stargazing app is also featuring a nice landscape and daylight, I am currently spending quite some time adjusting lighting and the complexity of the scene. After all, this has to run with a steady 60 fps on the Galaxy S6 with the Gear VR headset.

    Mind you, the scene is not complex by today's standards, but hey, this is still a phone!

    Still loads of stand-in textures and placeholder objects, but getting there...

  • To the stars with Gear VR!

    Getting more serious about VR... the HTC Vive is extremely cool, but quite some investment for starters. Decided to get myself a decent Android phone and a Gear VR, and started porting my astronomy app Cor Leonis to Unity.

    Good progress so far! Stars, planets, moon, and sun are all in, reading device location and compass is a breeze in Unity, so I can already have a view of the current night sky in VR :)

    Now on to make things pretty and creating a cool experience!


  • VR User interface experiments

    I'm currently experimenting with the UI for my upcoming Gear VR star gazing application. Virtual reality user interfaces are really interesting, since they have to work so differently from a standard 2D UI. One possible realization is to have interactive elements as actual 3D objects in the scene. This can be fun! For my app, I am thinking about putting a "time machine" into the scene, which will allow you to move forward and backwards in time for different views of the sky. Much cooler than having a 2D number selection thingy. Nothing to show yet, but stay tuned!

    How to select and activate anything in a VR scene can be a science. For starters, I recommend having a look at Unity's VR Sample Scenes project. It includes a bunch of useful scripts for reticles, selection radials, VR input handling, etc. This looks pretty convoluted at first, but once you get your head around it, it offers some nice ideas on how to architect an application UI.