It all starts with fantasies! And after years of experimentation becomes a reality.
“Suppose I make it so that you are in the story, you speak to the shadows, and the shadows reply, and instead of being on a screen, the story is all about you, and you are in it.” — “Pygmalion’s Spectacles” by Stanley G Weinbaum, 1935
In just around 30 years after this story was published the society acknowledged the first head-mounted VR system that has led to the first commercial products introduced in the 1980s.
Surely that was far from the virtual reality as we know it today. So the story goes further with the first prototype of a VR headset created in 2010 by Palmer Luckey, an American teenager. Now we call that thing an Oculus Rift. A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign was launched in 2012. Having a $250 000 funding goal within just 24 hours it has gathered over $2.4 million. In 2014 Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg bought the company for 2 billion USD.
Nowadays there is a number of competitors arisen, like HTC Vive, Samsung’s Gear, etc. More and more video games, movies, 360-degree videos are created. Exciting?
The popularity of VR technologies grows every day. Some businesses have already made the first steps in adopting virtual reality in their user engagement strategies. The others just start googling “what is virtual reality apps”, “how to make content for VR application” and “how much does it cost to create a virtual reality app?”.
Let’s find out the answers to these questions one by one!
What is VR, you ask? Virtual reality is a simulated environment created with computer technology that makes a user to accept it as a real world through human senses like hearing, touching, seeing. Basically, VR gives people a chance to get anywhere and experience anything at any time.
What equipment do you need to experience VR? Depending on the type of content you are about to consume there is a number of devices you would want to use.
- HMD. Head-mounted displays are always in demand for such purpose.
- Immersive room. Alternatively to HMD, a user may be put into an immersive room where images change according to the human’s moves.
- Datagloves. When there’s need of handling virtual objects, datagloves using the built-in sensors will help to distinguish the hands’ and fingers’ movements.
- Wands. A magical stick that helps to touch, point to or interact in a special way with virtual things in a simulated world.
How can virtual reality be used in an app?
If you think carefully, there is a limitless amount of virtual reality technology applications. What’s really amusing is the scale of the already existing adoptions.
People remember things they experience. This fact can be used in the official education sphere. While taking a group of children to some museum or exhibition requires time, money and lots of emotional tension especially for the teachers responsible for the children safety. VR has a lot to offer: it can be used more often, being held on the school territory, requiring fewer permissions and no additional chaperones except the teacher itself.
Google’s Expedition is already offering immersive virtual reality trips inside the classrooms for students and teachers. The app is available for iOS and Android platforms. There are more than 500 expeditions already developed.
EON Reality introduces apps that include educational VR 3D experience.
Many disciplines will benefit from implementing VR apps into a study process, such as astronomy, biology, history, etc. Ever wanted to walk on the Moon? Just discover the exciting Apollo 11 VR project that demonstrates the history of the people landing on Moon.
Teachers put more expectations on VR technologies being used more widely throughout the study process in the next couple of years.
Along with adoptions in a traditional education system, there are even more possibilities for pieces of training in any sphere and for all aged people.
Some might use certain apps to work out a fear-free attitude. In the University of Oxford, scientists have developed training through activities performed on a virtual 10-storey building. 69% of people who got through this program have proved to conquer their fear of heights.
VirtualSpeech app is designed to improve the speaking skills putting a user into a simulated atmosphere in front of a virtual crowd. At the end of the speech, the application gives scores to the speaker’s presentation skills. This app is available for iOS and Android.
#3. Real estate
Choosing a house to buy may be exhausting not only for the buyers but also for the real estate agents or even for the property owners. As it requires lots of meetings and tours along the properties before the final decision is made.
The Panoptic Group in cooperation with Arch Virtual has created VR tours in 3D in order to speed up the buying process. As they report, the app helps their customers to see the property even without visiting it proceeding to purchase much faster.
Similar apps are already developing for other real estate businesses all over the world. The Australian EDGE 28 helps clients to check the properties via smartphone and a VR headset in 3D without even visiting the real estate company.
Similar apps can be created for any industry that involves selling goods. For example, the automotive industry can adopt it in order to offer the clients to check and customize a car without seeing it in a reality. The same with other similar industries. It leads to less time consumed for a product presentation for each customer and faster purchases proceedings.
A “try before buy” service is also popular in the tourism industry. Travel companies can provide guided VR tours for tourists across various destinations.
The free mobile app Orbulus helps to experience the sounds and sights of different locations all over the world before deciding on the tour to choose for a vacation.
Google Arts & Culture app offers virtual tours to famous museums, galleries, and exhibitions around the world. You can uncover the most exciting facts and stories that hide behind each and every artwork.
Discovery VR app shows the wildlife and serves both travel and educational purposes narrating about different species, unique sights, and sounds.
For many decades journalists have tried different approaches to narrate the stories people couldn’t experience themselves in their real lives. In 2015 the New York Times has moved the whole journalism industry to the next level with its NYT VR app. It encloses hundreds of 360 VR news reports about the most popular topics aimed at getting more audience engagement.
As you see, virtual reality applications have great potential to push innovation to new heights. Those who start first get the best the market can offer. Let’s see how you can make the first step!
How to create content for a virtual reality app
Creating content for VR apps doesn’t require some special knowledge. All you need to figure out is how to:
- Take live 360-degree immersive videos
- Make a 3D animation or model
These are the most popular ways to actually create content for virtual reality applications.
Taking a 360-degree video is considered to be the cheaper approach as it only requires having a special 360 camera plus possible editing costs. The camera prices range from a couple of hundred to tens of thousands US dollars. There are more and more options emerge on the market that is able to satisfy any content creator expectations.
Tools for 360-degree videos
- 360-degree camera: used for the actual filming
VR headset: used for viewing the 360-degree video
Editing software: helps to edit complex and high-quality videos
Tripod: additional but not necessary tool for holding the camera while filming video
As for the actual video filming, the main requirement is to place the camera in a still position—it defines the quality of the visuals captured. Some prefer using a tripod, the others opt for drone footage, etc. The camera placement specifies the depth of experience a user will have while watching that video. So placing a camera at the center of all actions will give a better view. Just as well-calculated movements will give a clearer picture and smoother impression.
Video editing is another important stage. Nowadays there is an increasing range of editors present, let’s name just a few:
- VideoStitch: includes a big set of easy-to-use editing features, possibly the most popular editing tool.
- Premier Pro: designed by Adobe, thus an easily accessible 360-degree and stereoscopic videos editor.
- Frulix Editor: a web-based free editor that has a lot to offer for such videos creators
If you want to show something that you can’t capture in the real world, however, you’ll have to make a 3D animation of it.
3D animation for VR
Why 3D animation is better than 360-degree videos? It feels more real to users: they are able to move however they want, get closer to objects and interact with them as if it is a reality.
Tools for making a 3D animation
- Structure Sensor
It is one of the easiest and cheapest solutions that works like a 3D scanner and creates 3D models out of any object it catches in the real world. Structure Sensor can build spaces, rooms, people, furniture, animals, etc. It should be simply put onto the tablet and here we go—limitless opportunities are at your service!
- Game engines (Unity or Unreal Engine)
Their main purpose is to help develop games. Although having an extensive feature’s set it is viable for any type of 3D modeling. This approach requires more experience using certain tools as game engines come along with Google VR SDK or Android SDK.
So if you want to play big, you can simply delegate all the hard work to the professionals that can transform your ideas into a virtual reality plane more efficiently. That might include not only the VR app itself but its content development too.
One of the most important questions is: how much does it cost to create a VR app and its content. First of all, it is impossible to give an exact answer to this question as it depends on many factors. More to add, you should separate the cost of the VR mobile app development and the cost of the VR content creation.
In case you want to start from the actual app development, here you will find a common overview and understanding what comes into its price and what budget should be allocated for this purpose.
If you are looking for the VR content creation, then such companies as Matterport might be of interest for you. Their services start at $5000 and require you to scan a space with their camera and send them the result via their cloud.
The already existing VR apps is just a very timid attempt to bring future into our everyday’s lives. There is so much more to overcome in this niche. However, if you start developing your virtual reality app today, in a matter of years it might grow into something unimaginably huge. So just give it a shot!
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