GV Experiment with Oculus Rift 2 and Some VR Wizardry

One of the GV Labs team testing out our new WebGL virtual reality dual screen solution

Deep in the bowels of GV Towers, there is a group of highly skilled operatives collectively known as GV Labs. They do much of their work in secret — tweaking code and hacking hardware to their heart’s content — but a good deal of our ground-breaking digital out of home work is the fruit of their labours. In an attempt to shed some light on the work of these shadowy technicians, we took a peek at what they’ve been working on recently.

Augmented Reality (AR) in DOOH has been grabbing attention for a while now. The “Angel Ambush” activation we created for Lynx brought large-scale AR into the outdoor environment back in 2011. Since then we’ve seen many brands and agencies, as well as ourselves, push the technology further. Never passing up the opportunity to play with new tech, and keep GV at the forefront of developments, the GV Labs team have been asking “what’s next?”

One of the most exciting of the new toys is Oculus Rift 2 — the Kickstarter funded Virtual Reality (VR) headset that took the gaming and interactive world by storm two years ago. One of the challenges in using Oculus Rift in DOOH is that the augmented environment can only be viewed by the wearer of the headset — which makes for a pretty uninteresting event for bystanders. So, our resident boffins set about finding a way to make using Oculus in outdoor more suitable for group participation.

Our labs creative technologists have been working on a project using VR environments for both the Oculus Rift headset and the lo-fi Google Cardboard. Using a special camera rig, the team captured 360 degree images of real environments which were augmented with green screen footage and 3D graphics. These 3D environments were then built in a custom application using WebGL and accelerated graphics. A layer of interactivity was added to enable control of interactive gameplay through the headset wearer’s head movements.

A key part of the development process was the creation of a secondary view screen that allowed other people to see what the active user was looking at, without experiencing the image distortion that would be normally be seen without the headset. That was an imperative for any DOOH installation using the Oculus Rift, as it turns a solitary interaction into something an audience can share in. Effectively, the 3D world was split in two — the distorted view required for the headset, and another viewable by an audience. Using WebGL has also allowed the Labs team to easily extend the original code base to desktop, mobile browsers and native apps for truly integrated campaign executions.

We recently revealed the new system with great success at a private event in Florida (we could tell you about it, but then we’d have to kill you), and the team are currently looking into expanding the 3D environments in terms of immersion, interaction and animation for more DOOH greatness. And we’ve just taken delivery of an Oculus Devkit 2 — so expect to see some Virtual Reality in one of our projects in the near future. Watch this space!