A few days ago @lastknight gave me a strange cardboard package. I have no idea of what it was. “It’s a Google Cardboard” he said. Wasn’t helpful. Still no idea.

knox-v2

After a couple of Google search everything was clear. The strange package he gave me is a Knox V2: one of the implementation of the Google Cardboard project.

Google Cardboard Logo

The Google Cardboard project logo

Virtual reality (or “VR”) is one of the most interesting topic in tech business. Since when Oculus VR was acquired by Facebook during March 2014 for about 2B$ everybody think VR will be one of the next big thing in many fields: from game to surgery. I had the opportunity to test Oculus Rift only once at Codemotion 2014 in Milan (a surgery test simulator). Experience seems really realistic but I have no idea about how could be for an extensive use.

My iPhone 5 doesn’t support cooler apps (like Vrse that seems really cool) but I was able to test Roller Coaster VR, a simple roller coaster demo:

roller-coaster-vr

and Vanguard V for Google Cardboard, a third person space flight rails shooter designed for virtual reality.

vanguard-v-1vanguard-v-2

More and more application are available, here is a list of best apps select by the Huffington Posts. Anyway my thought about VR are not about the quality. Application are still poor. They don’t give you an headache like a few years ago but aliasing, clipping and other 3D related glitch are still there. Quality could improve a lot more and is doing. I’m more interested in real world use of a VR kit.

So I asked my family to test the Knox.

vr-test

First impression is of a new, cool and fun way to enjoy media. Gaming is hard but really immersive and the roller coaster demo is addictive. My parent aren’t familiar with cutting edge technologies but they were happily involved in the new experience. Gaming and documentaries can benefit this new way to interact.

Another industry can benefit this new way: the porn industry. By now a Google search show 3 producer who publicise VR movies: BadoinkVRVirtualRealPorn and NaughtyAmericaVR. Moreover BadoinkVR sponsor the new experience offering a pair of VR Google Cardboard for free. In the past porn industry was able address technology adoption. It’s easy to think they could do it again.

In the end Google Cardboard isn’t confortable. Smartphone position inside the box is fundamental and sharp corners hurt my big nose. But I think is the first step of the next big thing. We are ready and I really look forward to find what the future holds.

leap_motion_logoA couple of days ago I was working on a presentation about Datasift UX to give to my colleagues the day after. While I was trying the presentation I notice the Leap Motion (a friendly loan from @luka_bernardi) on my desk. Is it the Leap Motion ready to use in this scenario?

leap_motion_macbook

On the Airspace store I found two interesting applications: Presentable and PRSNTA, both free.

Presentable

“Get your presentation superpowers”

presentable_screenshot

It seems a flexible product. You can import PDF data (exporting it from Apple Keynote or Microsoft Powerpoint or whatever), create slides from any web page and use video (also from Youtube). Leap Motion gives you some special ability: scroll web pages by hovering hand up or down, go to next page by drawing a clockwise circle in the air and using a pencil (or something similar) you can access a “Virtual Laser Pointer“.

I just need to change page during my presentation so I trained myself to go ahead and back drawing a clockwise circle in the air. After a couple of minutes of training I feel like an idiot. Almost half of my circle in the air wasn’t accepted by the system and when anything doesn’t work you immediately seems like an idiot. So I tried PRSNTA.

PRSNTA

“Show your presentations in a completely new way”

prsnta_screenshot

It isn’t different than Presentable but functionalities are easier: it only support images and PDFs. Also gesture are easier: move your hand from right to left to go ahead and from left to right to go back. You had some special gestures to change slide using different effects and some others to highlight, use a virtual pointer and display messages.

Training was a bit better but still a pain. After a dozen of slide change the app doesn’t respond anymore and to change slide you need to wait for about 15 seconds felling like an idiot.

The day after with natural light and more training, things go better but I decided to not give the presentation using Leap Motion. The WOW effect doesn’t worth the feel-like-an-idiot risk.

Leap Motion is an awesome product but applications are still young and users aren’t ready to exploit a completely new way to interact with their system. Device and application need to be improved and mind of users have to be trained too.