As some of you may know, I'm a fan of The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey. SyFy commissioned a series based on it, which started airing last week. If you missed it, the first 4 episodes are available online at SyFy's site.
Last month I noticed the companion VR app for iOS and Android, so decided to download it and check it out. You currently can select one of two ships to look at:
Then select to view view it using Google Cardboard, or just your device.
If you look at it on your device you get a nice view, audio commentary, and you can point your phone in different directions to look around within the virtual world:
But if you select Google Cardboard you get this double image instead:
which reminded me of the 3D photos we used to look at as kids while visiting my grandparents. They had a stereoscopic viewer similar to this one, which I found here.
I wasn't familiar with Google Cardboard; but that piqued my interested so I started doing some research and discovered there's a number of compatible devices, such as this one by View Master. Since it was already late November, I decided to put the View Master on my Amazon Wish List for people to consider giving me for Xmas.
My sister's up for the weekend, we're taking the kids to Magical Winter Lights, so we had our gift exchange and ham dinner last night at my folks' home in Lake Jackson. I received the View Master from my sister & family:
I dropped my phone in and started up the Expanse app and was very impressed with the results (so impressed that I'm writing up this blog entry while everybody's still in bed ). For the rest of the evening everybody took turns oohing and ahing while looking around the VR world created by the Expanse App. My sister found it handy to sit on one of the barstools and use the swivel seat to look around.
The View Master comes with a sample disk that's reminiscent of the old View Master Reels.
Your iPhone/Android's camera still works when your phone is mounted within the View Master, so after installing the View Master software you place the disk on a table then look at it thru the View Master.
where using augmented reality you select what to view:
As I work in the space industry I decided to check out the shuttle:
The white dot in the middle of is like a mouse pointer - by hitting the "Reel Advance Lever" you can select whatever the dot is pointing at.
On the shuttle were a number of info icons:
pointing at one will trigger a text label telling you what it is:
while hitting the "Reel Advance Lever" will open up a pop-up window.
If you selected the shuttle itself you activate "move mode" which lets you move the shuttle around so you can view it from all sides (including top and bottom). If you select "nothing" the menu will open up:
from where you can select other options such as a mini-game that puts you in the cockpit for a shuttle launch.
The View-Master VR greatly exceeded my expectations. If you're looking for a last minute gift idea I highly recommended it. From the FAQ this will work these devices:
Compatible smartphone required. View-Master® VR works best with the following smartphones (not included):
iPhone 6s plus
iPhone 6 plus
iPhone 5s, iPhone 5c*, iPhone 5*
iOS 8.3 and above
Samsung Galaxy S®6
Samsung Galaxy S®5
Samsung Galaxy S®4
Samsung Galaxy Note® 4
Motorola Moto X (2014)
Motorola Droid Turbo
NOTE: View-Master® VR may also work with newer model Android and iOS smartphones not listed above that have screens between 5 and 6 inches. *View-Master® VR apps may not be optimized for iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c.
Addendum: found this video showing people using the new View-Master, along with an inset showing their view - of course the inset is only 2D, not 3D like they're really seeing. They start with the old View-Master, the new one shows up at 1:20. The reactions are just like those my family had.