Posts by Rachael Hosein

VR in a sensory deprivation tank

- by Rachael Hosein

Last week, we had a chance to connect with our friends at Jellyfish Float Spa to try out a little experiment: What would VR feel like while floating in a sensory deprivation (aka float) tank? We know, sounds a bit counter intuitive to provide sensory stimulation in a space aimed to tune it out, but in addition to the many benefits of floating, VR can augment the meditative experience and seriously, who wouldn't want to feel like they're floating around in space?


Any VR experience that's going to be used in a float tank needs to be crafted for floaters. Here are some of our main takeaways.

Design for limited head movement

Since the salts in sensory deprivations tanks are highly corrosive to electronics and there is no great solution for a waterproof phone/headset fitting, your ability to take in the 360º view that VR provides is limited. Experiences need to keep in mind that the viewer isn't going to be able to move their head or body to look around the virtual world.

Think about the orientation of the experience

Ordinarily, VR experiences are designed with the action in front and horizontally around the viewer. But in a float tank the viewer is laying down, facing upwards. This is similar to what we found using our Yana Virtual Relaxation app at Valhalla Automated Spa. Creators need to design the virtual experience so that the action occurs above the user, instead of in front of them while standing or sitting up.

If the experience has a horizon line or ground, there should be a reorientation option to help the viewer readjust the experience once they're situated and comfortable in the tank.

Choose the most appropriate hardware

Some hardware is much more float appropriate than others. Non-mobile/desktop HMDs have an obvious problem - cords in water. Generally a pretty bad idea. Mobile headsets are definitely better suited to avoid this problem.

In our test, we tried out two headsets, the Gear VR and View-Master VR. The main issue we had with the View-Master was the lack of head straps. Floating while keeping one arm up to hold the headset took a bit of co-ordination. The straps on the Gear VR made for a more natural floating experience, but the device does contain electronic components that need to be kept dry.

Google's Daydream headset would make for the best of both worlds, but we didn't have one on hand with a compatible, but more importantly water-resistant, phone. Samsung's S8 looks like it might fit the bill, but we should caution that their fine print about water resistance does say "Not shockproof".


Minimize fogging

Lenses get foggy, but there are a couple precautions to take. Warm air hitting cold lenses is fog city, so letting the headset warm up before putting it on helps. WolfsukaVR suggests using lens defogging wipes. We'll be picking up some of these for our next float session.

All in all, VR can definitely create a very cool floating experience. It's not perfect at the moment, and anyone trying this themselves should be careful to waterproof their electronics to avoid potential shock, but we saw tons of potential.

We were really inspired by a couple videos we found online. If you're interested in hearing about other VR float experiences, check these videos out -

 

Thoughts on International Women's Day From a Woman Founder

- by Rachael Hosein

I don’t talk publicly about what it’s like being a female co-founder of a tech company very often. I’m torn about it. Sometimes I wish no one would notice and other times I want the world to know. Today, being International Women’s Day, and to show support for #daywithoutawoman, I thought I’d share a bit of my experience.

In the past, when asked about what struggles I feel as a woman business owner, my answer usually is that I feel the same struggles that any business owner feels - the pressure to succeed, the fight to be seen and heard, and the weight of the responsibility to your business partners and employees. I sometimes dismiss the subtle differences I feel because they are in fact subtle.

Sometimes I feel that people have an easier time talking over me in meetings, sometimes people are surprised that I’m one of the founders, sometimes I feel that I need to scream to be heard, sometimes I hear things that are sexist and I have to think about whether or not I should say something. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a woman and I worry that if I say something I’ll be seen as a complainer or feed into the stereotype of women being overly sensitive.

About a year and a half ago, I really started to think about it in a deeper way. I was quickly edging my way into my mid 30s, the company was just into it’s second year, and my partner and I found out that we were having a baby. Immediate feelings of excitement turned into worry - How will this affect the company? Will the other co-founders be resentful? How much time should I take off? Where will I find the time for a family and a business? If I don’t drop work and devote my entire self to my child, am I a bad Mom?

I’m one of the lucky ones, though. My business partners are people I’m friends with. They are supportive, encouraging, and we share a lot of the same views. I talked to them about my worries, we shared our excitement and the potential struggles, and we came up with a plan that worked for everyone. I felt good and I thought that would be the end of my stress about it. It wasn’t.

I was still burdened with the feeling that I was letting them down, that I should be doing more, that others would judge me for not dropping everything to focus on being a Mom, and that being a business owner automatically means I have to miss out on spending time with my daughter. I want to meet all the unspoken expectations that are put on men in the workplace because I want to be held to the same standard, but I also want to meet the expectations that are put on mothers because I want to be the best Mom I can be.

Even though I considered myself to be in a best-case scenario, I still felt an immense amount of pressure to make everyone happy.

My daughter and I.

My daughter is now a year old and I’m still feeling the same struggles, but I try to act in a way that might influence change:

I make my opinions known, regardless of how loud I have to be and how uncomfortable it can sometimes make me feel.

I seek out other women to work with which can be hard because there is an obvious gender imbalance.

I bring my kid to work so she can see what I do and so my co-workers, who I spend a great deal of time with, can also build a relationship with her.

I talk openly about my partner being my daughter’s primary caregiver, about the work sacrifice he made to stay home with her, and about the judgement that he sometimes feels.

I have it easier than a lot and I still feel torn. I can’t help but think, especially on a day like today, about what women in less than ideal situations have to go through when trying to balance work and family. So, to all of the working Moms out there - I am grateful for you. Your choices are making it easier for all women that follow. It’s a hard path, and it shouldn’t be. Normalizing our presence, especially in the tech industry, is important. You are helping things change for the better.

 

We need some help from our friends!

- by Rachael Hosein

We're looking for a variety of people who would be willing to test and give us feedback throughout our development of Flipside - an AR/VR performance platform.

We want to make sure we're making something that you will love, so your thoughts are vital.

What does this all entail? Glad you asked!

When we have something new to test, we'll call/email you, set up a time for you and a couple others to come down to our office (usually for about 1/2 an hour or so) where you'll get to have some fun in VR, share your thoughts about what you tested, and have some snacks!

If you're into it, please fill out this short survey telling us a little bit about yourself - Help us test Flipside features!

We'd also love if you could share this post around (so many favours, we know ;) The more people the better!

 

The future of Virtual Reality...

- by Rachael Hosein

What does it mean to you if we say the words “future” and “VR” in one sentence?

Do you suddenly become overwhelmed with a dystopian future where VR has overtaken our lives, or do you see a world where Virtual Reality is making positive impacts every single day?

We see the latter.

The future is constantly evolving for Virtual Reality, and when you delve in and take a look, it’s easy to see all of the great things to benefit from.

There are some that see VR as a simple gaming experience, just another alternative for their computer screen. However, its scope ranges so much further than just gaming. From the medical sector helping their patients and training their surgeons, to new architects being able to walk in their creations before it is even build, to having a little teaser of your planned holiday in 360 videos, or all the way to a completely new way of experiencing movies with all the upcoming VR cameras. Virtual Reality has something to offer everybody.

The feature below on the Future of Virtual Reality by VR Bound covers the very best we have to look forward to.


Infographic: The Future of VR | VR Bound

We’ve already seen Youtube adapt its App to join VR (which is used by over 18 Million people globally) and many companies are now moving to develop their own short videos, advertisements and concepts through the power of Virtual Reality.

Along with this medical practices have already used VR to assist with exposure therapy to help patients overcome their fears and phobias.

As shown above through the hard facts and figures it’s clear that the industry is still fairly young. But as more and more consumers start to adopt the technology, we can expect endless possibilities to emerge and continue to grow.

Virtual Reality is approaching fast and we’re very excited in seeing all the different applications that come from it.

 

Love is in the air - Happy Valentine's Day!

- by Rachael Hosein


 

​We're going to try our hardest to take a little break!

- by Rachael Hosein

Stay warm and cozy! See you in the new year.
 

Attention all Winnipeggers!

- by Rachael Hosein

Our second meetup night is going to continue the trend of an informal get-together. Last time, we had some great demos from local developers, great conversations, and an amazing turnout!

For more info, visit the Winnipeg Alternate Reality Club meetup page.


 

Folk Fest in the City

- by Rachael Hosein

We had a great time transporting people back to this year's Folk Fest at Folk Fest in the City. Big thanks to our project partner Handcraft Creative and to the Folk Fest team.


 

Toasting Winnipeg

- by Rachael Hosein

We had a great time giving a virtual reality primer and hearing about machine learning from Wally Trenholm (Sightline Innovation) at The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce's Toasting Winnipeg event!


 

A few of the awesome people who have checked out our demos at C4!

- by Rachael Hosein

 

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