microsoft

Microsoft Kinect Game for Kids Ready to Go!

This has been one of the funnest projects we've ever had the opportunity to work on. It definitely got us in shape too! In fact, Nick, our lead developer owes his ability to shred the slopes in Colorado last winter to this game! 

The game is designed to deliver workouts to K-12 students in schools.  These workouts consist of various exercises (lunges, squats, jabs, and many others), a trail run, and even an obstacle course in which kids have to run, jump, punch, and kick their way to the finish line! The game can support up to 6 players at a time, so there is bound to be some healthy competition between the little athletes! 

Paired with a robust LMS, teachers will be able to track progress over time and determine how quickly they're able to ramp up difficulty and further tune fitness levels of their students. 

For more information and videos about this game, please click here.

Fitnexx Fit4Class- Kinect Fitness Game for Children

This is a project we're really excited to be working on.  We're developing the software for Fitnexx's Fit4Class. Fit4Class is a Kinect game to be played in schools by K-5 students. The video below is an early graphics test for an obstacle course in the game. 

 

 

HoloLens and What It Means For Learning & Development

Male dentist showing a molar tooth

HoloLens coupled with Windows 10 is being pitched by Microsoft, targeted especially for businesses, including the Training Industry. HoloLens promises to change the way daily operations are performed and to provide ease in training as well as new perspectives.

Some of the ways that HoloLens can be used for training include:

  • Skype conversations using HoloLens can allow those taking part to view the same desktop workspace from the same view. This means trainers can see what trainees are doing in real time and instruct them accordingly.
  • Diagrams can be viewed in context with realistic images. Augmented images can be overlaid over real time views of office spaces, work floors, manufacturing lines, and other professional areas.
  • Trainees can tour virtual scenes from a first person perspective. This way, they can get a better feel for what awaits them when they first set foot in a new workplace.
  • Trainers can see exactly what trainees are working on from a remote location, in a much more realistic way than remote access has allowed up to now.
  • Trainers in the seminar context can view the work of participants in a direct and clear way with the participants located all over the globe.

 

Promises Ease and a New Way to Get Training Done

HoloLens is less bulky and more streamlined than Oculus rift in size and appearance. With new applications offered by Windows 10, it can add considerable resources to those previously possessed by the training industry. Better insight into the work of participants during courses, seminars, webinars, and more will mean better success rates and less frustration on the part of distance learners and employees. Online learning, if also employing this technology, could change the success rate for the better. (In the past and present, a lot of online university students complain of little feedback on the part of their instructors. This is due in part to instructors lacking insight on what participants are actually doing. Virtual reality tools such as the Lens could turn this around.)

Skype and Collaboration

Skype conversations could follow with participants seeing into each other’s surroundings and being able to edit one another’s work. For training and collaboration, this is of particular value. Working on models and designs with an interactive context saves time and spares participants of frustration. Course creators can offer trainees specific feedback and look over their work more intensively to be sure they have achieved their goals.

Savvy and Fun for Training

HoloLens has the potential to make the training industry more viable, more interesting and technologically up-to-date with savvy tools that make the process fun. Instead of having the reputation of being necessary for work opportunities and promotions, it could make seminars and training courses a sought after experience involving virtual worlds, interactive contexts, funny scenarios and direct feedback from instructors and course leaders.

New Immersive Tech Series: Oculus Rift vs. Microsoft HoloLens (Part 2)

virtualroom  

A varying array of applications for work and play with the newest technology, Oculus Rift and Microsoft HoloLens are making big waves in tech news. They are making reality augmentation and virtual reality that much more integrated into work and play. As highlighted a bit in part 1, Rift is a headset that allows the user to experience the images displayed from a first person perspective while HoloLens is a device that has the user controlling holograms and imposing them over their view of the world around them.

At first glance, the headsets look similar. They are worn by users like glasses over the eyes, but with varying degrees of transparency. Rift totally wipes out the outside world and puts the wearer into a virtual reality based world. HoloLens lets you see your desk, your computer, your windows and coffee cup, but with digital images imposed onto the scenery by way of the lens. Let’s take a deeper look at the features.

Rift

  • Ideal for gamers who want to get inside the games they play. — Rift will support a variety of games when it is available for consumers on the market.
  • At 350 USD, a competitive price tag for medical students who need to simulate the practice of surgery. —Technology already exists to simulate surgery scenarios, but this device is a cheaply priced alternative that could put it at the forefront  (we're actually working on applications like this).
  • Educating school children and teens in a more hands on way. — Students can explore countries and structures (like government buildings, pyramids in Egypt) remotely. Instead of an expensive class trip, this can allow students hands-on experiences at a fraction of the price.
  • Watching movies. — As more films are made in this format, it could change the way viewers experience films. They can watch a film as a part of the film, in the first person.

 

HoloLens

  • Can optimize the skype experience. — For families forced to be at a distance in today’s society, being able to see loved one’s as a part of the scenery can give the feeling they are there with them in the room while talking via skype.
  • Making remote business meetings more effective. — A complaint often heard in the business world is that virtual meetings are less effective than meeting in person. A holographic generated image of a colleague could make them feel they are interacting in a more personal way, and thus connect optimally to get more done on the job.
  • View a model of an engine while doing idle chores. — Multi-tasking taken to new levels.
  • Team building events will be more amusing. — Scenery can be created to resemble a beach, a desert, the set of Game of Thrones, and more. This can be a springboard for fun and open teambuilding events.
  • Training new employees. — A more three dimensional approach to getting new employees acclimated using holograms to demonstrate tasks.

 

The future promises to be an eye-opening journey into the world of reality augmentation and virtual reality, on and off the job. The Oculus Rift and the HoloLens will surely be at the forefront.

New Immersive Tech Series: A Look At Some Virtual Reality Input Solutions

Leap-and-Kinect-1  

I'd like to start out by saying that this post was written and scheduled to post BEFORE Valve's latest announcement (the new SteamVR hardware).  There will be another post talking about that exciting new technology soon! I just need a little time to clean up the drool puddles around here that were caused by the mention of a new Portal game demoed with it... (GLADOS is my hero)

Now that that's out of the way...

"Input is really important for virtual reality, and our approach is that anything that's important, we need to be working on," said Oculus Rift creator, Palmer Luckey.

The goal of virtual reality input methods are to achieve the look and feel of natural settings as realistically as possible. The various products, hardware and software, available to this point achieve this to varying degrees.

Here are just a few of the technologies that we're really excited about when it comes to developing training applications.

Kinect and Leap Motion Controller (on the market now)

Kinect for Windows

Pros/Features

  • Includes physical hardware
  • Motion sensing infrared
  • Input using the hands and voice
  • Has depth sensing
  • Allows the creation of specific hand gestures to affect responses
  • Interactive applications
  • Responsive
  • Stable product created by a stable company and has been on the market for several years
  • Single piece of hardware

Cons

  • lacks clear haptic feedback
  • somewhat limited when it comes accurately capturing more intricate motions

 

Leap Motion Controller

Pros/Features

  • Doesn’t replace the mouse and keyboard, but works in conjunction with them
  • Connects via USB
  • Motion sensor that can read the slightest motions
  • Can sense all 10 fingers at once
  • Takes up little space on desktop
  • Single piece of hardware

Cons

  • Doesn't replace the mouse and keyboard, but works in conjunction with them (pro/con depending on perspective)
  • Doesn’t have many applications to interact with up to now
  • Takes up little space on the desktop
  • Limits user to a much smaller space (compared with other technologies), and therefore limited in possible applications

Razer Hydra is a Thing of the Past

The now unavailable Razer Hydra was more suitable for gaming, but not for a comprehensive virtual reality experience. It was more of a controller in a traditional sense, similar to Nintendo’s Wii. Bulky and space intensive, it is now sought by gamers looking for a certain type of controller but will not be a model for future virtual reality input methods. It was a really cool idea though.

Promising Input Controllers (still in development)

Control VR

Pros/Features

  • Devices worn on chest, arms, and hands
  • Promises to allow professionals and gamers to interact with virtual reality via the hands and fingers
  • Reviews claim movements are accurately represented on screen
  • Not confined to a camera's sensor perception

Cons

  • Lots of cords to get tangled up or tangled in
  • Lots of pieces to keep up with

 

Project Perception Neuron

Pros/Features

  • Devices worn on the hands, arms and legs
  • Has a lot of cords
  • Boasts simple use and motion detection
  • 9 axis IMU

Cons

  • Lots of cords to get tangled up or tangled in
  • LOTS of pieces to keep up with
  • Company is still starting up and working out kinks

 

PrioVR

Pros/Features

  • Claims to have natural, full body interaction
  • 3 different packages offered range from 8-17 sensors
  • Senses without the use of cameras
  • Still starting up

Cons

  • Lots of pieces to keep up with

The future will belong to input devices that can accurately transform motion to digital representations, on screen, in an immersive environment, that also can give haptic feedback (such as resistance in the arms and legs, as if the user was lifting something heavy, etc). Many devices don’t need to use cameras to translate their movements through the lens, but few seem to offer haptic feedback and this is an area that developers will likely need to focus on to improve the VR experience.

New Immersive Tech Series: Displays, VR, and AR

Reality of Knowledge  

Technology is becoming more and more futuristic, including the way we view what we’re doing. Lenses, headsets and other assorted viewing devices offer total or partial immersion in virtual worlds, or at the very least: augmentation of the so-called real world.

Popular displays like the Oculus Rift, the Microsoft HoloLens, the Google Cardboard, and the Samsung GearVR are among the up and coming technology virtual reality devices have to offer.

Oculus Rift: 

  • A bulky headset that allows users to see digital worlds from a 360 degree angle based on how the user turns his or her head. It can be supplemented with the Virtuix Omni to include hands, arms and feet motion for an even more realistic experience
  • It’s impossible to see out of the headset, users are totally immersed in what they are playing—working on or viewing.

Microsoft Hololens:

  • Slightly smaller than the Rift and lighter weight. It also allows the viewer to see their work from various perspectives but is also transparent to the outside world.
  • Provides only partial immersion, depending on what applications are utilized.
  • Augmentation to the world outside instead of blocking the outside world.
  • Runs only in conjunction with Windows 10.

Google Cardboard:

  • Consists of a simple cardboard viewer.
  • Applications on the user’s mobile phone provide the view.
  • Affordable, lightweight, and simplistic.
  • The cheapest virtual reality option that works with a variety of mobile phones.

Samsung GearVR

  • Only works with one Samsung mobile phone: the Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  • The headset is similar to Oculus Rift
  • Provides total immersion
  • Only costs 199 USD

Various Degrees of Virtual Reality 

Whereas Oculus Rift and Microsoft Hololens are more intensive and have the potential to be used for a lot of business related operations including training and design, the Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR viewers are easily affordable and can provide virtual reality experiences for consumers looking to just stick a toe in the water. They are less bulky than the Rift and more transportable. Though the Samsung GearVR only runs on Galaxy Note 4, more models could be added in the future and it’s already possible to go out and buy the Google cardboard and the GearVR—unlike the Hololens that is only out there as a prototype (that not everyone can get their hands on).

The Rift and the HoloLens are less accessible to start with, but may prove to be more realistic in immersing users. Once they arrive on the market to consumers, it will be interesting to see what applications are picked up. Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR can be tried out now, giving us a taste of what is to come.

New Immersive Tech Series: Oculus Rift vs. Microsoft Hololens (Part 1)

HoloLens  

Lately I've been asked by a few clients to demonstrate and explain a lot of the new immersive technology coming out on the market.  The folks we work with look into all this cool new stuff and get a little overwhelmed by all of the choices they have for advancing their training programs.  In these next few posts, I am going to attempt to cover a lot of this hardware and explain their uses and benefits. That being said, let's jump right in with our first topic!

Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Virtual Reality (VR)

Two "up and coming" pieces of technology that many are just waiting to get their hands on are the Oculus Rift and Microsoft’s Hololens. While both are pretty much situated on the cutting edge, they differ in some fundamental ways—Oculus Rift is all about immersing yourself in a total and complete virtual world, while Hololens allows you to augment the world you live in—using light-generated holograms.

Showpieces of users trying out the Rift are basically blindfolded with the headset that covers the eyes. The ultimate goal is to:

  • Experience games in a completely immersive way.
  • Experience movies from the first person (the company Condition One made a film just for the Oculus Rift called Zero Point).
  • Live out and perform in real world work conditions.
  • Explore a faraway place without traveling any distance at all. Some reviewers were quoted as saying it was like a dream come true for their former child self. You get to live out a different reality—an escapist’s wish fulfilled.

Microsoft’s Hololens is all about adding to the world you live in with elements of augmented reality, or "holograms." You don’t have to worry about walking into the coffee table while using it. The headset aspect looks a bit like the Rift, but you have a transparent lens. The concept is such that you get to see the holograms on top of your “real world.” It’s a digital overlay that can enable you to, for example, see your skype partner on the lens while drinking a cup of coffee (and not having to worry about spilling it). You can look out the window without taking off the lens; have a virtual meeting with your colleagues and still see the room you’re sitting in. Hololens runs on Windows 10, connects to your computer and interacts with the applications there. You'll have the ability to use everything on your Windows 10, in connection with the accompanying headset. Presently, it isn’t available on the market, however Microsoft recently gave access to the press to view the prototype they had on hand.

Oculus Rift is more about total immersion in a fantasy world, or getting completely into the simulation of something. Hololens is an accessory for adding holograms to the “real world.” Neither of them are ready yet for consumer use, but both promise usages appropriate within the professional world, education, entertainment, and more. Where Google glass was intended to be used out and about, both the Rift and Hololens are intended for use indoors, for the living room or the workplace.

It will be fascinating to see how both devices develop as they emerge on the market for consumer and professional use. Whether virtual reality will be used as a tool for life or holograms to improve our workspace, this futuristic technology is fast approaching.