ABOUT: Yury, a Unity developer, inveterate AR & VR creator at HQSoftware, who knows how to make virtual ideas viable. In his private life, Yury relaxes by playing tennis and spinning, while also being keen on computer games with elements of competition, particularly DotA and MOBA, where he likes to build mental strategies to survive. However, when the working day begins, he turns virtuality into reality, and becomes not just a participant but also a thinker, planner, and constructor of the virtual world. Today, Yury works on cutting-edge VR projects and shares some ideas on the future of virtual reality.
How did you guys get into VR?
– Speaking retrospectively about HQSoftware’s VR start, the first project was for a company selling and installing solar batteries. Then we developed spherical panoramas for virtual visualizing through Google Cardboard glasses. We strive to be aware of the latest VR trends and new tech stacks that significantly facilitate and speed-up developers’ work. Technologies that we use encompass Unity 3D, Oculus/GearVR SDK, Catchoom SDK, and others for Android, iOS, Windows, and macOS. Glasses include but are not limited to Samsung Gear VR, Epson Moverio, Oculus Rift, and Google Cardboard. All our guys constantly seek new knowledge and this has positive effects, because we can propose more efficient and modern solutions to our clients.
What unusual VR project have you worked on at the company?
– I think that a drunk driver simulator that I worked on was quite an interesting and unusual one! We made it for a big automotive company in order to show what it’s like to drive a car when being drunk. When you put on VR glasses (Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR), you see the reality as if you have been under alcoholic intoxication even though you haven’t had a drop. We considered all distortions specifying the alcoholic state: a slow reaction, a blurred and twisted image, latent and double vision. It is definitely difficult to follow the line in the glasses. The same program is suitable for any sphere where it is necessary to simulate a drunk state, for example in explaining safety needs.
How would you describe your company culture?
– I work with very skilled guys. The company conducts inner meetups to keep us updated on the latest technology trends, and sometimes we gather in the kitchen or in the lounge zone, where we play darts and exchange our thoughts on work. HQSoftware participates in conferences, meetups and showcases its projects on exhibitions worldwide and I like that the company strives to be involved in the latest events of the IT industry. Meanwhile, I am inspired by one tradition of the company. After we deliver a project, customers visit our office, we discuss the results and further perspectives, and take a group picture. I feel like I am a part of the big well-knitted team that creates useful and interesting solutions. Our customers are mostly located in the USA, Northern and Western Europe, and Australia so the time difference may range from 2 to 11 hours; therefore we plan our schedule accordingly and keep to flexible working hours, which is an additional benefit for me. By the way, we reveal all the development process to the client, and the customer can monitor it, using JIRA, Trello, or any other project tracking tool. This approach definitely reduces our time for reporting and makes the development transparent and well-defined both for the customer and for us.
What sort of experiences do you think future VR tech will allow for? Haptics? Smell? Neural feedback?
– It is definitely true that haptics in VR is already possible. The technology looks like a group of medical sensors and electrical muscle stimulators inbuilt in a coverall. There are electrodes inside the cloth, transmitting small impulses. One way to consider this is to imagine that we could test such a prototype for the effects of being shot. We could use a laser-tag principle: when a shot gets to the electrodes zone, a human’s body feels pain in this place. This feeling isn’t exactly pleasant, but I think it would be possible to evoke other sensations such as wind blowing, warmth or cold. Imagine the idea – the attempt to implement sensations that a firefighter feels during fighting a fire. While he is working, the temperature inside a special suit can reach 80°C. Therefore, ordinary training can’t show all the conditions and students face them only in real life.
We have mentioned haptics. However, what about smells in VR? Do you think it will be possible within the technology?
– Smells are the most difficult part. After all, such a system that relies on the transferring of a color won’t do well in conveying the smell or taste. The color system is based on the triangle of red, green, blue and a mixture of them that gives birth to a new color. Perhaps, in practice, transmission of smell can be implemented, but this will require an extremely big base of ingredients, where you can reproduce some flavors, mixing them according to certain formulas. Such a system could be executed somewhere static or immovable because of the limited number of odors, but, I guess it would not for home use. There are still no such products related to sensations in VR production, only prototypes, start-ups and crowd-funded companies. That is why all this still exists at the conceptual level. But the future is coming.
How would VR solve this problem?
– I think this is definitely possible, but it is rather complicated. Most likely, the suit will have zones that can imitate a definite temperature, depending on what side of the suit is closer to fire so that that side would heat more accordingly. In that case, the suit will be also equipped with gyroscopes. One gyroscope for each key bone: forearm, arms, legs – and the head gyroscope, which is responsible for direction of the body. This would all help to understand what position the person is.
Is there any opportunity to read movements for virtual reality, except gyroscopes?
– It can be a tube which has photocells on one side and light resources from another side. The level of brightness is changed, depending on a degree of bending: the more the tube is bent, the less the light. However, gyroscopes are rather affordable in the marketplace at the moment.
Why should your clients choose VR?
– It depends on the goals. Initially, VR technology was used for training pilots, i.e. as a simulator. Therefore, in my opinion, VR will be widely used in education as well as advertising. Imagine a virtual showroom where you as a customer test-drive a car. You are sitting in the car’s salon and looking at the steering wheel, seats, and appliances as if they are real, and then you are driving a little. So, VR here is a phase of presales, preceding the personal visit to the showroom.
What VR products can we see in future?
– Advertising could use showcasing of an environment: a saloon of a car, the interior of the house, for example. This could also be an advert of a tour to watch panoramas, or diving to the bottom of the ocean, the opportunity to feel like a climber and conquer Mount Everest. It means plugging deep into feelings that are difficult to achieve or can’t normally be evoked in real life.
What VR product would you like to create?
– I think a new VR trend will be group meetings where something can be created where people are in multiple locations. Today, this idea has been implemented on the web, such as through Google Doc where several persons can edit the same document. However, what if we do the same thing in VR?
For instance, engineers at an enterprise that has affiliates in different cities or even countries are putting on VR helmets. In virtual reality, they are in the same room, where they can altogether “mold” a model in real time. They can correct something, and others will see it at the same moment. Thus, this is an opportunity for remote cooperation, a kind of virtual presence for and of remote employees. If you develop an idea, then this can be a good platform for a conference, a business meeting, training, an exam, etc. For example, virtual remote meetings could replace modern webinars, where participants just need to put on VR glasses to get on the list of attendants. We had a project for one of the leading car manufacturers. They ordered a tool so that 8 designers could model cars virtually. These 8 people could connect from anywhere on the globe with internet access, but in virtual reality they were in the same hangar. One of the designers could change the shape of the headlights, another one could work on the body – and everyone saw the changes in real time.
STUDIO: HQ Software