Going WithinVR on iOS

WithinVR was founded in 2014 by Chris Milk, and Aaron Coblin creators of Google’s Data Arts Team. They’re a company primed for success, and partnered with several large companies like Apple, Google, Sony, HTC, Fox, and LiveNation. Their investors include 21st Century Fox, Raine Ventures, WME, Live Nation, Vice Media, and Tribeca Enterprises. WithinVR is partnered with strong content producers, and promoters. One of the easiest ways for them to reach people is through their iOS App which is well put together, and better than other apps I had considered reviewing like FoxSportsVR, and NextVR Now.

The company WithinVR uses a variety of original content, and content from their contributers, investors, and news outlets. For example, they use New York Times VR stories frequently especially for their behind the scenes stories. Within also takes on personal contributors and their works as well, and other companies like Waffle’s “Dessert Island” featuring Conan. Waffle is an animated Virtual Reality producer. Dessert Island’s- Stop Hammock Time is attached below,  and for iOS you should download WithinVR here  !

The pictures from the home page  are easily accessible and their presentation exhibits free, and premium content. The home page is easy to navigate with recent and topical content based around their “Fright Fest” as shown below. You could see that as a con depending on the user, I liked the themed content around the holidays but that could definitely scare off a younger user.

Category based- the app is easy to use too and has a wide range of up to date content. It’s easy to use and is well segmented once you access the menu features in the top left of the app. This is great for users that’re less acclimated with the app or are looking to browse or discover content. The app has easy access for frequent users downloadable content too for offline usage. Love their presentation as illustrated below.

With strong marketing and pushing content to more users this can be a great medium for new VR users to get into content with, and can be a great way for current VR users to navigate new and topical content. The content is varied too, from imaginative Sci Fi, Animated Comedy,  Music, and Animation.

I loved the Hallejujah video (which is in app only) and the and the “I Saw the Future” video. “I Saw the Future” is offers a futuristic view while quotes from Arthur Clarke narrate our growth as humanity, evolution, alien contact, and where we’ll go now.  The video is imaginative, well produced, exciting, and crisp. This video is one of my favorites I’ve watched this year. It was created by Francois Vautier and I’ve attached it below.

Most importantly this app shines by its diversity and stellar media. They have many different genres and areas of entertainment covered, and produce prominent media- and are well rounded for the casual virtual reality viewer, to the oculus pro who likes to be scared out of their mind, and the imaginative mind who daydreams of something different or abstract. This is a great app for VR users 13+ and it represents different tastes for varied users extremely well. The only issues are the difficulty embedding because of the website, and the lack of a YouTube, or a channel where people who aren’t familiar with the app can see the videos. I would recommend it to my friends who are trying to get into VR, but don’t know where to start because of its ease of access, and premium content. 9/10.

 

Homido V2 Review

The VR goggles, made by Homido, can be found on Amazon for $22.00.  Purchase them here: https://www.amazon.com/VR-Headset-Homido-iPhone-Android-x/dp/B01LZWDNX6/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1542052268&sr=8-2&keywords=homido

I personally give these goggles a 7.5/10. The best part of this headset would have to be the fit.  On the interior of the headset when the user’s face comes into contact with the headset is very comfortable.  There is a padding that is layered on the inside for comfort for the user.  Because of this feature, users have an easier time leaving the headset on for longer periods of time due to the increase of comfort in comparison to other headsets.  Another great feature of this headset is the carrying case.  Because the headset’s screen is so smooth and easy to scratch, it is very convenient to have a carrying case to protect the goggles from being messed up.  This also allows for easier storage of the headset without worrying about the product because of the protection provided by the hard-shell case.

There were two aspects of this headset I did not care for as much.  The first is the clarity of the 360 elements.  More often than not, what is watched in the headset is blurry.  At first, I checked the video to ensure I was not mistaken.  When I saw my videos were in the best resolution possible, I began to play with the focus setting on the top of the goggles.  Spreading apart or pulling together the eye piece did not help the clarity.  It is almost as if there is not enough space to adjust the eye piece for more clarity. The other aspect I was not a huge fan was the space for the mobile device.  The space provided includes a lever that allows for multiple sized devices to be used.  However, the lever does not have much gives which causes the user to almost have to force the device into the headset.

 

When using the headset, you simply just insert the device, close the screen, and place the headset on your head like a hat. If the headset is fitting tight, you have the ability to loosen the straps to fit your head size.  Also, if you do not use or have wireless headphones, Homido does not discriminate!  There is an opening between the screen and the main headset piece to allow for headphones to be plugged in.  If at any point the user needs to click on something on the main screen, the headset has a silver button on the right-hand side to click just like a mouse to a computer.

I definitely think this headset is worth the lower price.  For $22, it’s pretty good quality in terms of its build and overall look and feel. This headset is great for beginners or those who are just interested in VR for fun.  However, if someone is wanting to pursue VR in a more serious way, I would suggest something with some more power in the headset.

DESTEK V4 VR Headset vs. VR Headset Homido V2 Review

I will be comparing the DESTEK V4 VR Headset and the Homido V2 Headset. The reason I chose to compare these two virtual reality headsets is because they are both very similar in price and durability according to Amazon (2018), but we will see if this is actually true. Customers want to know if they are actually getting the product they are reading in the description, which is why I will be looking in depth at both products.

DESTEK V4 VR Headset was released in 2017, and it is on the market for $33.89 on Amazon, but other companies vary within the $5 range of that price. This camera is made by DESTEK and is very affordable/ available among many websites. This headset is even cheaper if it is purchased without the Controller/ Gamepad. Yet the controller is a bluetooth controller that allows you to immerse yourself in arcade games! This headset also obtains Eye Protected Anti-blue Light HD Lenses to ensure safety while using them.

The Homido V2 Headset was also released in 2017 by Homido, and when I purchased the headset in August it was only $22, but since then the price has raised on Amazon and other websites to at least $31.98. This product is still very affordable either way, especially since it comes with a strap so you don’t have to hold the headset to your face. I was also very pleased that the headset came with a case and cloth to keep it clean.

Since, I personally own the VR Headset Homido V2 I was able to see the headset for myself, and it is more compatible for all smartphones because of its easy phone adjustment. It also obtains adjustable lenses to get as clear of vision as possible in the virtual world, plus it is comfortable to wear since it also has an adjustable strap. The cons of this product is that I realized it still gives a blurry look to the highest of quality videos and there are no standard control system. Although I do think you are getting what you paid for!

The DESTEK V4 VR Headset is known to have pros such as being AR compatible, easy focus adjustments and to be also extremely comfortable to wear, but it does seem to have some cons such as its design flaws because there is some light leak and the clamp doesn’t always work to its best ability (Sean, R., 2017).

DESTEK V4 VR Headset and the Homido V2 Headset are both used in the same way, you place your phone inside the plastic covering in the front and then put the headset over your head. You must make sure the video you are watching is set to VR mode, because if not you will not be able to see the video very well and it could make you nauseated. I see this product being used for anyone that is wanting to start learning about virtual reality but is unaware if they should purchase an expensive, high quality headset. Although, both of these headsets seem to have great quality for the price they are currently at, so either way you can’t go wrong!

After research, I would say you get more for your money with the DESTEK V4 VR since it comes with more features and tangible items. Although this headset is meant for augmented reality. If you are just looking for a decent headset to watch only VR videos on, but are not looking to spend a ton of money I would definitely recommend buying the Homido V2 headset.

 

New USA TODAY VR feature: Experience the real Havana with ‘Cuba 360’

The Havana, Cuba turns into a 360 video just for a day with USA Today reporter,  Alan Gomez. Gomez takes the opportunity to show people like myself what Cuba has to offer to its viewers and why they should actually incorporate Cuba into their plans one day.

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This 360 video isn’t one of your normal video that’s up to date but for an area that you hear so many negative things about, I feel as its only right to include this video in my report. Gomez does a great job of giving us the life of Cuba by taking us through various significant locations that surrounds Havana, Cuba. For instant taking you along the drive of government buildings, famous waterfront area and of course through various other locations that gives you exposure to the culture of Cubans who live throughout the streets of Cuba. Through this video you get to see various things going on for instant, local shops, eateries, and living locations and conditions of Cubans

One of the cool things that I like about the 360 video that Gomez did is have the camera located on the front of the car. With the camera being placed on the front of the car you get advantage of not only seeing Gomez driving the vehicle but you get to see what he’s getting ready to encounter. From the article, Gomez mentions that they utilized one of the popular Cuban cars, that Cuba tends to maintain in their country and drive on a regular basis due to their culture.

One of the things that connects the Cuban and American culture together is the things that they tend to do that Americans do too; which is haircuts. One of the clips from the 360 video you can see an individuals getting their haircut. Keeping a crispy cut is important to individuals of the Cuba country according to prior research. 

With this 360 video they used different variations of the Cuban culture that makes this VR significant to the country of Cuba. We, as the audience, was able to go down the history of Cuba by visiting different monuments that are located across Cuba. Along with that you get to feel the person gestures from Cuban’s in their natural habitat through a camera which is really important in my opinion.

The characters featured in this 360 video is a variety of people ranging from different citizens of the Cuba community. Each character played a significant role in making this 360 video popular along with being successful. With the way this video was driven, I think it was VR appropriate. With the weaknesses of this video, I personally think the only thing that was a problem included the quality of the VR camera. Something that could’ve changed to make this video stronger is to make sure the camera quality was clearer and not too foggy. Other than that, everything was appropriate and good that made this a strong candidate for VR 360 videos. If we continue to promote camera placement and quality then soon there will be great videos all over.

Review of the VirtualSpeech App

The app I am reviewing  today is the VirtualSpeech App. The VirtualSpeech App is an app made by the company Virtual Speech Ltd. The app is available for free through the Google Play store (for Android devices), the App Store (for iOS devices), Samsung Gear VR, and the Oculus Go store. The app is an app for people to practice interviews, public speaking and so much more things that are essential to succeed in the workplace.

Pros

This app is great for practicing:

  • public speaking
  • preparing for job interviews
  • business networking
  • workplace mindfulness (i.e. reducing stress in the workplace)
  • delivering sales pitches
  • improving written, oral and comprehension skills
  • strategies and techniques for training purposes
  • delivering presentations
An example of delivering sales pitches to employers.
An example of a classroom presentation.

 

Cons 

The only con I have with this app is that some things are monetized  (such as the online courses they offer) and as a “broke college student”, I would rather just use the free features.

Who would this app be useful for?

This app would be great for college students who struggle with the areas mentioned above to practice getting comfortable and confident in these areas. I could see college students who are close to graduating using this prior to attending job interviews. I could also see this being used by students in SGA  or in an organization to give speeches and presentations.  

On this note, the app allows for the user to have their presentation in the app on the virtual screen (like you were actually there giving a presentation).

 

How Do I Use the App?

Download the app from the store and open it. Once you open it, you will see a menu with different areas you can work on. Point your pointer to the area you want to go to and it will insert you into it. 

Additional Information

Virtual Speech also offers additional helpful resources on their Facebook and Twitter feeds committed to improving yourself in the workplace.

The video below outlines what the app can do.