Live Web Final Project Draft

For my final project, I’d like to attempt to build video chat or live stream into VR. Think of it as Facetime or Periscope, but in Google Cardboard.

Why I Want to Make It

Ever since the recent VR resurgence, I’ve been interested in how it can be used live to immerse people in different environments from across the globe. I’ve seen a lot of 360 streaming video, but I haven’t yet seen it in the headset.

In my transformational design class, I was tasked with building a design with Joe Mango and Sabrina. They had designed essentially what I’ve been dreaming about, except that it was to be used in the same space. My partner and I built it using smartphones inside of makeshift headsets. The phones were streaming Facetime with the external camera view turned on. In this way each participant could only see what the other would have been seeing if they weren’t wearing a headset.

Joe and Sabrina also had to design for me and my partner. They built us a live upside down world. They used Google cardboard and did two things that I hadn’t seen before. First, they cut a hole in the back of the Google cardboard so the external camera would work (genius). Second, they were able to bring the live video feed into the split view needed for Google cardboard.

These two things combined got me very excited that my idea for live video in VR might be possible.

THEN! Right around that time that we were working on these projects, Google released VR Views. From the Google website:

VR Views allow you to embed 360 degree VR media into websites on desktop and mobile, and native apps on Android and iOS.

Here’s an example on their blog.

I did a quick test with there code, and sure enough, was able to embed the iframe in one of my websites.

A few days later, I talked to Joe about how they got the Google Cardboard to work and as we were talking I started to put all the dots together that I might be able to build a live feed coming from a users external phone camera and use Cardboard SDK to make it appear in the browser.

Big Questions

My biggest doubts right now are:

  • What limitations do I run into with the browser on mobile? (I know that iOS won’t let me access the camera, so this would have to be for Android only as a start.
  • What am I forgetting that makes this impossible?
  • Will this be a terrible experience because there is no head tracking? If so, is there any way to account for that?
  • What format should it be: Periscope or Skype/FT? Or maybe just panos? An app — instagram for Google cardboard?