hardware, software, simple coding

Time for a quick update on recent tech offerings


The Rickman Effect in VR

I have been in an interesting twitter conversation on the Swayze effect in Virtual Reality (see https://www.oculus.com/story-studio/blog/the-swayze-effect/)

Very thought-provoking article and it is a real problem, engagement in VR, but Swayze as ghost actually cares, the VR audience doesn’t..

So I suggest to redefine the Swayze Effect: where one wants to interact in VR but cannot, and to use the term Rickman Effect where one cannot or can only slightly interact but one has no great desire to. Alan Rickman’s character in the movie Truly Madly Deeply is a ghost who returns for his partner, but permanently feels cold and spends most of his time on the sofa aimlessly watching TV. See this youtube clip of Alan Rickman in the movie for more of a visual explanation.


 Event: GLAMVR short talks and workshop (Friday 26 August, THE HIVE, from 9:00AM)


On Friday 26 August (just before Curtin Research week) a School of Media Culture and Creative Arts academics, Curtin University Library and friends will host at the HIVE a morning series of short presentations.

The main themes are:

  • Digital Heritage: Workflows and issues in preserving, exporting and linking digital collections (especially heritage collections).
  • Scholarly Making: How to encourage makerspaces & other activities in tandem with academic research.
  • Experiential Media: How to learn and develop AR/VR and other new media technology and projects especially for the humanities.

Primary Objectives:

  1. To encourage humanities and especially digital humanities research, connecting research project ideas with an idea of possible equipment and the skills required.
  2. To get people together to discuss their projects and get feedback
  3. To help push forward prototypes and proof-of-concepts
  4. To uncover potential design ideas and available datasets for the Cultural Hackathon later in the year (see below).

Friday Morning: Short Presentations (on Digital Heritage, Scholarly Making & Experiential Media)
Speakers include

  • Assistant Professor Elaine Sullivan, University of California, Santa Cruz, USA, who will speak on Digital Karnak.
  • Mr Conal Tuohy, software developer from Brisbane, will speak on digital collections, visualisation and Linked Open Data.
  • Short presentations from academics at Curtin and there may be a few slots available to others in Perth.

Friday Afternoon: Digital Workflows/Augmented Reality WORKSHOP (3-3.5 hours)

In the afternoon Mr Michael Wiebrands will present workflows on importing digital records and other media assets into the UNITY game engine and he will be followed by Mr Dominic Manley, who will demonstrate Augmented Reality (AR) technology and how to use AR in research projects.


Cultural Hackathon, October/November 2016

In October or November we plan to host a CULTURAL HACKATHON. Academics propose ideas, and provide datasets (and so can Libraries, Galleries, Archives and Museums). Hobbyists, programmers, students will spend the entire day in teams working on application prototypes using that data and the VR/AR equipment provided. Proof of concept ideas will be presented and the best project will win a prize and the chance to work with the academics in the near future.

PLEASE NOTE: The event is free for attendees but they will have to register at EVENTBRITE (link to follow) for either the morning presentations or the afternoon workshop. We recommend people register and attend both but having separate registrations is to encourage those who can only make one session. Numbers will be limited.

Digital Heritage, Scholarly Making & Experiential Media

Our internal small grant (School of Media Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University) was successful!

Here is a synopsis of the application (redacted):

Digital Heritage, Scholarly Making & Experiential Media

We propose

  • A one-day workshop [Friday 26 August 2016, HIVE] with 3D, Digital APIs, UNITY and Augmented Reality workshops.
  • We will present our projects at that workshop and a month later meet to review progress and each other’s publications and grants.
  • Then we will organize with the Library and other GLAM partners a cultural hackathon in Perth where programmers and other parties spend a day creating software prototypes based on our ideas from the workshop. The best project will win a prize but the IP will be open source and contestants may be invited into the research projects or related grant applications.
  • Equipment to build prototypes and showcases for future grants. Part of the money will also go into Virtual Reality headsets, and Augmented Reality equipment that can be loaned out from the MCCA store to postgraduates and students.

The above would help progress the below research projects:

  • Another need is to develop the maker-space and digital literacy skills in information studies and the Library Makerspace, to develop a research area in scholarly making.
  • Another project is to integrate archives and records with real-time visualisation such as in the area of digital humanities scholarship, software training in digital humanities, and hands on workshops and crafting projects at the Curtin University Library.
  • Another project is to explore how SCALAR can integrate 3D and Augmented Reality and create a framework for cloud-based media assets that could dynamically relate to an online scholarly publication and whether that journal in printed form, with augmented reality trackers and head mounted displays could create multimedia scholarly journals where the multimedia is dynamically downloaded from the Internet so can be continually updated. Can this work inform future developments of eSPACE and interest in ‘scholarly making’ and makerspaces?
  • There is potential to create an experiential media research cluster with the new staff of SODA, to explore immersive and interactive media that can capture emotions and affects of participants or players. This requires suitable equipment.

VR / HMD / Game launches in Perth

On Thursday the new Perth chapter of the Australian Virtual Reality Network (AVRN: http://avrn.net.au/) met and were going to do demos of the HTC Vive.
They Skyped with the Sydney chapter who apparently have 80-100 attend the monthly meetings.
The Sydney speaker (leader of StartVR) showed his project and he and another developer ranked the VIVE their favorite, the Samsung Gear best of the phone-based VR (and I did not realize it comes bundled with the Samsung S7 phone, the phone acting as a form of external graphics processor to the display) and the Rift now showing its age and Google Cardboard (really just cardboard box around an android or iOS phone) good as $5 marketing/corporate handouts. They are most interested in the upcoming Playstation 4 HMD, as it works with existing Playstations (not the older version I assume) and hence will have a large ready market.

I instead then left this rather corporate group for the other meeting, a game developer launch -LEVEL ONE [http://www.levelone.org.au/[ at 167 Fitzgerald St Perth, a more indie game incubator/studio/community that has some connection to Film TV Interactive and the State Library.
A local game company had a music interface game in the VIVE which I played with and I quite liked the setup, good resolution, head tracking and very light responsive controllers I thought.
I did not ask how easy it is to develop for and am quite interested.

The best game and virtual environment journals?

How do you measure the reach, quality and effectiveness of journals in the areas of game studies and virtual environments? Many of them do not clearly feature impact factors, but by using commercial software one may be able to get a better idea of how well they help the h-index of submitted papers. I won’t get into the debate here on open access journals but there as some of the below journals are open access, and some are extremely expensive, this should also be a consideration, especially if one is writing also for a non academic audience (such as game designers).

I have been reading a few articles on how book chapters do not get cited (Anderson, 2012; Bishop 2012) and whether academics should write book reviews (Toor, 2012). In Virtual Heritage research many conferences are not fully published and indexed, while the book chapters are seldom cited.  There are some good articles out there on how to get published (Armstrong, undated), but why bother if one is not cited? For lack of citations probably also means that one is not read by a serious professional audience.

And I note in (my) area, some of the more famous journals appear to be

NB related VR/VE/ graphics journals impact factors here.

*I am on the editorial boards of the above journals.

UPDATE: you can compare the above journals at SCIMAGOJR website.