SeeSaw Labs

SeeSaw Labs Virtual Park

For our latest Lab project, we’ve been working on creating a Virtual Park where we can experiment across multiple platforms. For HTC Vive and Oculus builds, we’ve been working at combining some more advanced interaction methods (like climbing, using objects while teleporting, etc.). For mobile builds where interaction is often constrained by the lack of a controller, we’ve been experimenting with other ways to more naturally transport the user and allow them to explore the space.

The space features elements inspired by some of my recent travels and is a great example of how real life spaces can help shape better virtual ones. One of the most surprising things I’ve learned so far, through the experience of modeling after a real life space, is how incredibly well VR communicates the sense of scale. Anytime I felt myself stuck on a “design decision” a pop into VR mode to explore quickly gave me the insight I needed to answer “where that umbrella should go?” or “how tall should that mountain be?”. In my opinion, one of the most powerful use cases for VR right now is communicating projects of scale and depth. Photos just can’t quite produce the feeling of standing in a canyon or looking over the edge of a bridge—I look forward to expanding more on this concept in future projects.

Update: Check out the experience on Viveport

The Traveling VR Developer

When one says “Virtual Reality developer”, you might imagine a large open space, tracking units mounted to the ceiling, and a massive PC with cables strewn everywhere around it…and you’d have been right just a few years ago. Now, super-powerful laptops and compact systems like the HTC Vive make development possible even in some of the most unlikely of locations.

As the VR Lead for SeeSaw Labs, I can’t (and would never want to) take a break from working on our latest Lab; however, summer is made for travel, so on my next domestic trip, I gave it a go and packed everything up into my carry-on suitcase. Surprisingly, I was able to fit the entire setup in just a third of my smallest suitcase. Setting things up in a friend’s small NYC apartment took a little creativity, but was totally doable!

Trial-run under my belt, I’ve spent the past two months traveling and working from Europe; setting everything up has now become a breeze, but here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Find a small bag to contain everything within your suitcase. This makes swapping from suitcase to bag to closet to drawer much, much easier without worrying about losing anything
  2. Pack a cloth to clean the lenses inside the headset to protect them.
  3. Invest in cable management (seriously, wrapping the cables around the boxes isn’t a solution).
  4. The Vive Lighthouse mounts make great stands (especially if you put them on top of a bookshelf).
  5. You can clamp the Lighthouse mounts to just about anything. All you need are a few of those small hand clamps you can get at the hardware store
  6. None of the Vive equipment requires a 110 to 220 step up (but don’t forget converters).
  7. Plan for hot weather. AC isn’t really a thing in Europe, so on hot days I had to plan to work early in the morning or at night to avoid running my laptop too hot.