April 21, 2016

Back to the Future: Boston VR Meetup at Wistia HQ

Naike Romain


Earlier this week, we had the opportunity to host the Boston VR Meetup’s 37th meeting at Wistia HQ. Around 100 virtual reality and 360 video enthusiasts gathered for a night of educational lightning talks, immersive VR demos, and dumplings.

Lightning talks

We kicked off the talks with Marshall Moutenot, an engineer on the Wistia team, presenting his process for developing a visual representation of the way viewers watch 360 videos. As he built out these 360 heatmaps, he encountered unique challenges, like displaying time, direction, and pitch in two planes.

Marshall took inspiration from an old Japanese train schedule that managed to convey several planes of information in two dimensions. After multiple iterations, he came up with a gorgeous design that shows where in the experience an individual viewer is looking, and provides an aggregate view of trends in viewing behavior.

Next was Mike Quan of Boston 360 Video, who talked about his experience filming 360 video and his 360 eCards. 360 eCards allow anyone to insert their own videos into a 360 scene. This makes it possible to personalize an immersive 360 video. Mike showed how adding in your own video commentary atop a 360 scene can make a viewing experience more social. Boston 360 Video also brought in their customized 360 cameras for everyone to check out.

Cindy Bishop spoke about her browser-based 3D drawing platform, VRDoodler. She built it because she wanted to give more people access to 3D content creation and storytelling. You can use VRDoodler without any design skills or money. All you need to do is open a browser and start drawing, and you’re creating a 3D experience.

We also heard from Jonathan Linowes, the author of Unity Virtual Reality Projects. He walked through the content of his two books and introduced his new project: Meta.versatile. This VR developer network provides a space for VR and AR professionals to create profiles and showcase their work. It’s a community-driven space where members can share resources and collaborate.

VicoVR sent co-founder Dmitry Morozov all the way from Russia to present their whole-body, wireless, VR Sensor. The sensor tracks 17 skeletal points to project a clear depiction of a player’s movements. Their boxing demo was one of the highlights of the night.

Explore the scene for yourself

Our video producer, Chris Lavigne, was eager to capture this event with our own 360 GoPro rig. If you missed the event, you can get a feel for the scene. If you were there, try to find yourself!

Demos galore

Throughout the night, there were multiple demos to explore. Everyone was excited to try out Jeff Jacobson’s HTC Vive, VR KiX brought out their slick headsets, and Heiroglyph was back with their VR game.

We left feeling inspired by all of the creative ways VR developers are using the medium to expand storytelling and gameplay. It was a great time, and we were pumped that Boston VR allowed us to join their party. Keep an eye out for their next event and more 360 developments from Wistia in the near future!

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