EF EVE: A Volumetric Video Platform

EF EVE allows you to use two Kinects (Microsoft’s camera and motion controller for Xbox consoles) to create a volumetric video of yourself, which you can then share with others in VR headsets or on the desktop!

How, why EF (which is short for Experimental Foundation) would use a hardware product that has been discontinued by Microsoft is a bit of mystery. But if you have a Windows 10 PC and two Kinects, you can subscribe to EF’s volumetric video camera app for $34.99 a month to create holograms of yourself or other people to share on their VR platform. You can download and install the client software for free from their website or from Steam (it works with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or on your PC desktop) to watch the volumetric videos.

I have to admit this is really cool, although of limited usefulness at the moment. Also, since the Kinect has been discontinued, this product has a limited shelf life. Here’s an example of a hologram in various VR environments:

Here’s a video that shows off EF EVE’s presentation tools:

And finally, we have a new use for VR: dance lessons!

Now, it’s not clear that this is social VR (that is, an experience you can share with other people), so I am leaving it off my list of social VR apps. But it is interesting nevertheless!

Thanks to Jurgita Kačkytė of the Virtual Reality Technology Facebook group for the tip!

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EmbodyMe: A Brief Introduction

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EmbodyMe is a free social VR platform available via Steam and the Oculus store. What sets EmbodyMe apart from the competition is that it offers to create a photorealistic avatar of you, based on a single photo! Here’s an example from their website, using a photo of former U.S. president Barack Obama:

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The promotional video makes it looks like a fun place to enjoy with your friends:

So, of course, armed with a recent photo of myself, I decided to give it a try!

When you start the program for the first time, it asks you to place your photos into a special folder on your desktop so it can find them. Then I had to restart the software and wait for the folder to load. And I waited, and waited, and waited… nothing happened. Even worse, I seemed to be stuck at that particular point in the setup of my avatar, and the program wouldn’t let me start the process over again! I even tried uninstalling and reinstalling the software from scratch; no dice. This was a major fail.

EmbodyMe is a really disappointing piece of software. I gave it a one-star review on the Oculus Store. Steer clear!

Neutrans: A Brief Introduction

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Neutrans is a social VR app made by a Japanese company called Synamon, available on the Oculus store:

NEUTRANS is a customizable VR shared-spaces solution with a focus on simple, intuitive controls and multiuser interactions. This app demonstrates the capabilities of the system, allowing up to 4 players to interact with each other in up to 3 rooms.

Features:

  • Grab, Enlarge/Shrink, Throw
  • Inventory System
  • Teleport-based Movement
  • Voice Chat
  • 3D Drawing & Whiteboards
  • Camera (Images saved in UserData\Snapshot)
  • YouTube & Image Viewer
  • Enlarge/Shrink Avatars
  • Customizable Wallpapers
  • Virtual Desktop & more!

Explore the possibilities that VR spaces can enable: Remote conferencing, VR storefronts & showrooms, using it as a base to develop demos on, and everything in-between.

Here’s the promotional video:

I downloaded the software and tried it out, and it has all the basic features, including a video player and a whiteboard. You can pick up and move objects using the laser pointers on each hand. You can teleport from one location to another. There’s only four default avatars to choose from, though, and they are all hideous! But overall, this is a promising start for a social VR platform. 

Their website could use a professional Japanese-to-English translator; there’s some pretty fractured English there. This is yet another social VR product to check back on in 6 to 12 months to see if anything new has developed.

Inlight Spark: A Brief Introduction

Inlight Spark is a social VR app available for free on the Oculus store:

Inlight Spark is where you can meet, chat and collaborate with people in VR. You can share screens, draw 3D sketches, and create spaces for different activities.

Working remotely has always been difficult for most of us, even with the help of instant messaging, voice & video calls. There’s always this invisible barrier that makes you feel not totally “there”.

In Spark, you can have meetings and collaborative experiences that are much more fun, and engaging than video calls. It’s the closest thing of actually being in the same space with your coworkers, but in some way even better. (working from home in pajamas, anyone?)

You’ll have an infinite canvas where you can express your ideas, and the possibility to set a time portal so you can always revisit your work.

It makes remote meetings and collaborations that much better!

Here’s the promo video:

Well, I downloaded and tried out this program, and you seem to be stuck in one spot, without the ability to move around (although you can grab objects and drag them closer to you). I found it a little awkward to use the provided tools, such as drawing and typing in space. The Snapshot tool gives you a snapshot, but as far as I could tell, it didn’t save it anywhere on my computer for later use. All in all, Inlight Spark is really not that terribly impressive.

Even worse, when you try to access the website, my Chrome web browser gives me a security warning! The website has very little information about the product, and only a couple of poorly-chosen screenshots. The press coverage section doesn’t include any links to the actual articles talking about Inlight Spark.

Overall, I’d skip this one.