A week or so ago, I was filling out a form online and skipped over the “Are you a Robot” checkbox. Captchas have gotten pretty good, and Google now has an algorithm that allows you to bypass the box altogether, but I couldn’t help the bit of delight that it caused when I successfully logged in, followed with the immediate question: “Am I, in fact, a robot?”
Ah, the delights of philosophy and a few too many listens of the Westworld soundtrack.
Midday musings aside, I’ve been working on a blog post on the state of virtual reality and it’s taken me longer to get through than I thought, but I wanted to update with some of the highlights of work, the industry, life, and some of the fun upgrades that I’ve added to my desktop at home. It’s been a while, so this post is a bit of a chaotic collection of the past month or so.
Adventures in High Fidelity
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include an update on my new job – it’s so hard to believe that it’s been two months (almost to the day!) since I started at High Fidelity! Since starting, I’ve learned a lot about building, identity, teaching, and experiencing virtual reality in a more concrete and engaging way. I love getting to meet people around the world on a regular basis, teaching development inside of virtual reality with in-world workshops, and working on an open source project with so many passionate people. We get to do awesome things like recreate architectural masterpieces, meet Power Rangers, and become immortal by way of digital recordings that capture our virtual identities.
— Liv Erickson (@misslivirose) March 22, 2017
That last point is something that I’ve been particularly fascinated with recently – the ability to virtually clone a version of yourself in VR has a lot of potential for different applications, and begins to highlight a lot of questions around virtual identity and ownership. If you’d like to learn more about how you can help us at High Fidelity experiment with making NPCs (and get paid for it!) you can check out a job posting here.
The FOVE is Here… Sort of
I livestreamed my FOVE headset unboxing last month, and I was excited to have it in-hand to add to my collection of HMDs. FOVE is an eye-tracking headset, which is a huge step forward in improving human-computer interaction and continuing to augment our human senses and engagement with the digital worlds that are springing into life. I was (and, honestly, still am) excited about the potential of the FOVE, but it’s definitely in early stages – I’d say somewhere around Oculus DK 2 quality. The pupil tracking, while fascinating, seemed to struggle with my eyes (I’ve heard the combination of light blue eyes and mascara can cause some challenges) and there was a lack of good demo content: the demo that they released was simply a room with boxes that lit up when your gaze tracked over an object. There were a couple of very small third-party demos, but for the most part, the FOVE has been waiting patiently for some software updates before it goes into prime time.
I’ve been polishing up my desktop at home, and part of that involved a few upgrades that I’ve been loving. I’ve got a battle station that makes me feel like I can take over the world – here’s what I’ve updated lately:
Graphics Card: Nvidia GTX 1080 TI
I had to fight off digital hordes of shoppers (at least, that’s how I imagine it) but I finally got my hands on one of the new NVIDIA GTX 1080 TI graphics cards. It’s been every bit the upgrade that I’ve hoped for in my desktop PC, but if I’m being honest, I haven’t had quite enough time to test it out the way I’d like. I’m hoping this weekend that I’ll get a chance to put it through its paces and see how it holds up.
I had all but given up hope on finding the keyboard of my dreams (tenkeyless, Cherry MX Blue switches, and custom RGB LEDs) when Amazon slyly recommended the MasterKeys Pro S to me. I bought it and I’m pretty happy with it, though the actuation on the keys doesn’t feel as smooth as my QuickFire Rapid – it feels like it takes a bit more pressure. I’m hoping that it’s more in my head than anything else, and the more I use it, the more familiar it feels, so I think that might just be a factor in swapping keyboards. My QuickFire Rapid has been upgraded with dampers to quiet it down so that it doesn’t drive my coworkers crazy when I take it into the office.
I wasn’t keen on getting a Razer product, but I’ve pretty much fallen in love with this mouse so I’m going to have to reconsider in the future. I wanted a small, super slim profile mouse that would light up and the Diamondback checked the boxes. I’ve actually really enjoyed the mouse, though I did have to disable the the side buttons since I kept accidentally clicking on them and annoying myself.
Having an awesome headset at work, I realized that I was definitely missing an at-home equivalent. I went with the Arctis 5 on the recommendation of a friend – and, yep, you guessed it – because it lights up with custom RGB LEDs. I wanted my peripherals to match the pink fans that I put in my desktop case, and these all did the trick. I’ve liked the Arctis a lot, and find myself listening to more music when I’m at my computer working as a result.
Coming Up Next:
I’ve got a few more blog posts in the works that I hope to get out shortly. I’ll be headed to San Jose next week for SVVR – shoot me an email if you’ll be around and let’s connect!