We began the day with an impromtu IT jam: creating a pop-up lab and makerspace in an hour during breakfast provided by Williams. We extended the existing McGuire Graphics Lab facilities at Williams College with five new VR development stations and a second analog and hardware bench. We're grateful for technical support from Mary Bailey, Steve Amann, and Todd Gould at Williams College for the prep work that made this possible.
We then ran demos of VR experiences on Vive for attendees who hadn't tried it before and brainstormed new projects. The group quickly divided into three teams and executed on combinations of our ideas:
- Two-player networked tennis (VR pong!)
- Real-world temperature feedback for virtual events
- VR plugins for social interaction
We built these out during two development stations using the Unity engine with an open source custom starter project I wrote using the SteamVR and VRTK asset kits, and then demoed them at the end of the day. Because Williamstown is a vacation destination during the summer, we also took advantage of the beautiful surroundings for a picnic by the river and then dinner in town sponsored by Vicarious Visions.
Essential VR Essential Equipment
The temperature team built a cardboard weapon mockup with electronic elements controlled by their program. It could heat up or cool down significantly in about two seconds. The hot end of the spectrum felt like touching a toaster and the cold end like holding an ice cube. In VR, you saw yourself holding a flamethrower or "ice gun". Pulling the trigger would shoot fire or ice via a particle system. The combination of holding the tool, visuals, audio, and temperature made the effect surprisingly convincing. It was my favorite experience...even without any other mechanics, I still wanted to keep playing with it for an hour.
|Alas, I knew him well.|
If you'd like to participate in an event like this, check out the upcoming VR hackathon at MIT in October 2016.