Posts Tagged ‘ vr

Customizing Oculus Medium

Over the holidays I picked up an HTC Vive, and the first thing I did was jump into Google Tiltbrush and Oculus Medium : Both awesome VR painting apps, both very different.  This post will collect my (ongling) notes on Medium.

First tests

Here’s a couple of kitbashed robots that took me about three hours.  So much fun!

kitbash_robo_1 kitbash_robo_2


To get Medium working on my Vive, I had to setup an Oculus account (+ purchase Medium) and install “Revive” : Both painless.


Mapping the Oculus controllers to the Vive

At first I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out which Vive buttons mapped to the virtual Oculus controllers.  Couldn’t get anything to reliably work.  I finally read you just touch on the thumbpads where the corresponding Oculus buttons are, and it ‘just worked’.  Suddenly became usable.

Installing custom brushes

You can install your own custom brushes in Medium. Here are the rules (many pulled from the above FAQ):

  • Must be saved as .obj
  • Must be triangulated.
  • They need to be saved here:
    • C:\Users\USERNAME\Documents\Medium\_Import\Stamps
  • In Medium, open the Main Menu, navigate to the personal tab, and select Stamps. At the bottom of the window, you’ll see an import button.
  • They’ll then show up in the ‘Custom’ stamps section.
  • Should be as low-poly as possible.
  • Scale doesn’t appear to matter:  I made test with different sized models.  My guess is that Medium auto-scales them to fit some standard sphere that is used on the brush.

Medium’s coordinate system

I did some test by bringing in three different cones into Medium each build along a different axis.  I was able to then reverse-engineer the coordinate system relative to the sculpt tool.  You can use these notes when building your own brushes, to make sure they show up in Medium correctly.

I made a handy infographic:


X is towards you, Y is towards the controller, and Z is up.

This also means that when you create stamps that you want to project onto another surface, you should orient them so that their ‘up’ vector aligns with the +Z worldspace axis in your 3d software.  This will thus orient them properly onto the surface in medium.

Performance Issues

I’m running a GTX 1080 GPU, i5 CPU, 32 gigs of ram : The software will definitely stutter if I paint large items, or paint quickly.  If I paint one stamp at a time it doesn’t seem to be a problem.  Also seems to loose tracking far more often than other software:  I can watch the sculpt hand just ‘float away’ sometimes.

Fun with Google Cardboard

A while back I’d read about Google Cardboard:  A way to turn your Android smartphone into an “Oculus Rift Lite” VR system by shoving it in a cardboard box.  I’d recently got a new Samsung Galaxy S5 and thought I’d give it a shot.  While you can order the cardboard kit online, or even cut it yourself, I found this 3d printable design on Thingiverse that fit my phone.  Several hours later I had my ‘3d printed cardboard’ (via my Makerbot Replicator 1).  But I still needed the magnets, lenses, and optional NFC tag.  Unofficial Cardboard had everything I needed (including the cardboard itself if I hadn’t printed it), and a few days later that showed up.  Other than the lenses not quite fitting (which my Dremel grinder took care of by expanding the holes in the print), and having to jury-rig a head-strap out of some nylon scrap, it worked really well:

I used some sticky-foam around the nose & forehead, and inside the case for the phone to rest on.  Added extra black tape on the sides to keep the light out.

I’ve had the chance to play with the first and second gen Oculus Rift’s as well, here’s my thoughts:

  • Considering it’s a smartphone strapped to your head, it worked better than I expected.
  • Doesn’t have the immersive feeling the Rift does:  More like you’re looking through two small holes (well, you are) rather than being enveloped in the environment.  But the resolution (at least that of my phone) seemed comparable to the Rift, or at least the first gen rift.
  • Latency isn’t as good as the rift, but as a tech demo, seems good enough.  Some apps are smoother than others.
  • Couldn’t get the NFC tag to work.
  • Works with glasses.  The Oculus doesn’t, requires you to swap lenses (but this helps with its immersive environment).
  • The official “Google Cardboard App” has a number of demos.  The ones that impressed me are:
    • Earth : I found myself unconsciously laughing while using this:  Flying from space down to your house is something I’ve never experienced before.  Way cool.
    • YouTube:  A 360 deg sphere of youtube vides to watch, with voice search.  Reminds me of something from MTV in the 90’s.
    • Windy Day:  Stylized 3d short about forest animals and a hat.

The main problem I encountered was many apps require a bluetooth gamepad to navigate them.  After much searching, I’ve had a really hard time finding one that is known to work without requiring root access to the phone.  All the posts I find say “you need a bluetooth gamepad”, but give no examples.  I went to Gamestop and purchased a Moga Pocket, but it looks like that controller only works with apps designed for it.  I downloaded three different driver apps that support the Moga, and while they all recognized it, I couldn’t get it to interact with any of the Cardboard apps.  Frustrating.  Returned.

And, like on the Oculus, I do get a bit motion-sick after using it for a while.  That’s probably the biggest hurdle that needs solved for any of this tech.

Overall, it has great ‘wow factor’ the first time you use it.  I think it’ll be fun to show friends.  Currently I see no killer app for it, or any reasons I’d want to use it for anything day-to-day.  But I look forward to finding out what that may be 😉

Total cost (not counting the phone), about $16:  Print, maybe $2-3 in materials.  Unofficial Cardboard Kit: $12.75

Worth it? Absolutely.