Night Cafe Development Notes



NYVR Meetup Presenters on August 21, 2015

This week’s NYVR meetup had three amazing companies present, EEVO, Cerevrum and SpaceVR, and we had a live VRChat demo by our incredible meetup co-organizer DJ Smith.

EEVO, known as the “Netflix of VR”, has developed technology to stream the highest quality VR content more efficiently than any other platform. The team started the company when they realized that great VR film content, could transport people places they could have never imaged possible. They looked at the technical barriers of streaming VR content and set out on their mission of providing users with the best virtual reality experiences possible. They are working with top content creators to ensure a steady flow of rich, engaging cinematic VR experiences. Their system analyzes where users are looking during the film and then they give that information back to the content creators. Currently, all content on EEVO is free but in time, users will be able to purchase content on the platform.

Cerevrum is the future of brain training. Built as an entirely new approach to cognitive improvement, they combine virtual reality, cognitive neuroscience and data-driven machine learning into an approach they call “neurogaming”. Co-founder, Aldis Sipolins, said that current brain training is broken and does not improve cognitive function, contrary to what their advertisements make us believe. Cerevrum is here to change that. With their team’s background in neuroscience and gaming, they have developed VR games that are fun to play yet engage cognitive skills that we use in everyday life. With their proprietary machine learning algorithms, their program adapts to the players skills, notices if you are avoiding a harder memorization task and puts it in front of you more often until you master it. At SVVR, Palmer Luckey played their game and got up to level 4, which Aldis noted was pretty high for someone’s first time!

DJ Smith, gave us a rundown on the current state of social VR, followed by a live demo in VRChat. Inside VRchat, we watched a demo that EvolvedAnt had created: a firework show over an enormous castle. DJ Smith said he took a liking to VRChat because he found that it was really easy to build with Unity, even for a non-developer like himself. He is currently developing a NYVR VRChat meetup room with the goal of hosting NYVR presentations there and have them streamed virtually so that anyone can attend. If you’d like to help out with building this interface, please reach out to him!

Up next was SpaceVR, the company trying to bring space exploration to everyone by sending a 360-degree camera to the International Space Station. Ryan Holmes, CEO, dialed in via Skype to quickly pitch SpaceVR and promote their Kickstarter page. They are ready to launch the camera, all they need is the money to make sure it happens! If you want to see space in virtual reality, contribute to their Kickstarter!

See you all next month!

This post was written by Sophia Dominguez, founder of AllThingsVR, a weekly curated newsletter that highlights the best VR news, innovators and content! Please subscribe to receive the best updates in VR!

NYVR Meetup Presenters for July 16, 2015

This week, we were fortunate enough to have presentations from: Hedd.Space, Hooke Audio, Polhemus and a presentation from Shakhruz Ashirov, a VR app developer. is a platform that is humanizing the way online information will be presented in VR. Founder, Eric Neuman believes that the current UI for online information (2D and with lots of text on the webpage) is unnecessarily taxing to human minds. He believes that with his VR platform, discovering information data should feel natural and organic; something that presents data in a way that allows you to understand passively, being noticed consciously only if it’s important. For example, if a Wikipedia article is ‘dense’, it should hang heavy on it’s VR-world tree-branch, or if you are on Twitter, maybe you should see large flocks of birds flying around the hottest trending topics.

Eric is still in an early phase development, but to date, has built it entirely with three.js and and webVR-polyfill. You can check out his demo here on Google Cardboard and Oculus and keep up with his project on Twitter!

Brooklyn based Hooke Audio is the maker of wireless bluetooth headphones with built in binaural microphones. Hooke is both a playback and a capturing device that instantly brings video to life in what the company calls Mobile 3D Audio. Mobile 3D Audio is audio captured identically to the way our ears process sound. To begin recording, simply put on the headphones and open Hooke Audio’s integrated app that allows users to record Mobile 3D Audio and pair it with their phone’s video camera. Founder, Anthony Mattana, is a firm believer that sound is essential to storytelling, but thinks that there has been little innovation around sound and is trying to change that with the newly announced Hooke Verse. When you playback the sound recorded via the Hooke Verse, it’s a 20X better experience than if you were to have recorded the sound with your phone. The best part? You can listen to Hooke’s recorded 3D sound with any storer headset of speaker configuration!

Hooke’s Audio raised money from Kickstarter last year and shipments are expected to ship in Winter 2015. You can pre-order on their website for $139 and will retail at $189. You can watch their NYVR presentation here and hear more of their sound here.

Polhemus was one of the very first companies involved in VR, having pioneered motion tracking over 45 years ago. Their first VR application was designed for pilots who used head tracking for pre-aiming and targeting in F16 planes. At NYVR, Neil Schel, Director of BD, was proud to announce that they will continue making VR applications for healthcare and the industrial industry. Their technology uses electro magnetic trackers because of their high accuracy with tracking and low latency performance, which is great for VR. Due to their many years of working in the field, they have created electro magnetic trackers that can track up to 30 meters, far beyond their original capability of only a few meters. Neil Schel shared some projects that they are working on including a welding simulator, which is using VR to bring down the cost down of training welders in the US. HE also noted that it is unlikely that they will use their technology for consumer products, for the reason that their tech is expensive and is not in their current roadmap.

Shakhruz Ashirov has recently left building for mobile to exclusively build for VR applications. To date, he has created 7 Google Play apps including: VR Chess Trainers, Dinosaur Park VR, Forest Animal VR and Space Movie Theatre, and generated over 5K downloads. He believes now is the perfect time to get into VR development because you should ‘catch the VR wave’ while it’s new, focus and be persistent with your ideas an remember to take small steps towards your big dreams. He has created a VR Toolbox on Github that should help you get started developing for VR.

This post was written by Sophia Dominguez, founder of AllThingsVR, a weekly curated newsletter that highlights the best VR news, innovators and content! Please subscribe to receive the best updates in VR!

NYVR Announces Developers Only DEVGRU

NYVR is forming a spinoff monthly event for developers that will be focused on technical issues relating to building virtual reality content.  Our first event will be on June 24 at the Samsung Experience store in SoHo.  In order to be included on the invite list please join the private NYVR DEVGRU Meetup group at:

NYVR Developer’s Group

New York, NY
55 VR Developers

The NYVR Developer’s Group (DEVGRU) is a break out group from the original NYVR Meetup for developers only. The purpose of the DEVGRU is to create a forum for VR and allied de…

Check out this Meetup Group →

April NYVR Recap: Perlin noises and Lighsabers

Last Thursday NYVR hosted its 15th event.  Over 200 people RSVP’d to gather at Microsoft’s NYC headquarters to hear the latest VR news and share ideas with some of VR’s luminaries.  The night opened with Alex Coulombe’s story of how he used VR to solve a nagging problem in theater design.  Alex is an architect (among other things) with a firm that specializes in designing theaters.  One of the issues they face in their design process is how to assess seating layouts to ensure all comers get a good view of the action.  Alex integrated Unity into his firm’s workflow to quickly create VR simulations of proposed layouts viewable on the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.  Alex’s presentation was inspiring both in that it told the story of how the unique characteristics of VR can be used to solve real world problems as well as the fact that before this project Alex was not a developer or coder. With the tools we have available VR development is accessible to anyone with the will to build.

Our keynote of the evening was Ken Perlin, NYU professor and pioneer in computer graphics and virtual reality.  Of particular note was his description of the VR holodeck he and his colleagues (and the graduate students!) are building at NYU.  The NYU holodeck has sub mm scale tracking of a 25′ x 25′ space which is being put to use to create everything from art installations (Octopus Rift) to room filling simulations of atomic orbitals (my personal favorite).  Ken’s talk also highlighted the importance of research for its own sake.  Research can be done for the pure pleasure of finding things out without the need for a business plan or financial projections.

We were lucky to have both Ken and Alex this month and I think we were all at least a little bit inspired.

Also of note were a demo of Sixense’s jedi training, which was awesome, and a chance to touch base with Linden Labs and High Fidelity founder Phillip Rosedale.  Thanks to everyone who came by and especially to the NY VR developers who demo’d their work.  See you next month!

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Why ‘Ready Player One’ Might be VR’s First Killer App

VR's First Killer App: Ready Player OneEarnest Cline’s VR steeped dystopian novel Ready Player One has a special place in the hearts of VR developers and enthusiasts.  With the announcement that Steven Spielberg will be directing the film adaptation, a lot of folks are really excited.  The excitement stems not just from our collective hopes of a great movie but what the movie could do for the burgeoning VR industry.  It’s even possible that the movie will be VR’s first ‘killer app.’

OK it won’t really be an app in the traditional sense of the term (although I do expect a killer VR add-on piece) but it may well serve the function of one.  What I mean is that the film could serve as a catalyst for the rapid adoption and mainstreaming of VR tech – the thing that makes the average consumer say “I need that.”  If the movie is true to the book it will inspire a new generation with (and remind the old generation of) the promise of VR.

When I walked out of the Lynbrook Movie Theater in 1992 having just seen The Lawnmower Man I was filled with those same feelings.  I was also rather bummed because I knew that what I just saw was fiction.  There was no way the Smith Corona word processor in my den was going to be able to drive 90 FPS to an HMD.  When people walk out of Ready Player One they are going to be walking out into a vastly different world.  A world with Rifts and Vives, Gears and Durovi.  They will be walking into a world where we, the VR community, can say: “It’s here.  It’s real.  You can have it now.”

So while we bide our time awaiting the consumer release of the Oculus Rift and Valve’s Vive, we should also mark our calendars for the opening night of Ready Player One.  I think we will look back on that day as a milestone in the history of VR – the day everyone else realized that VR is real and that it’s going to change the world.

by Eric Greenbaum



As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the NYVR group and facilitate the growth of NY’s VR ecosystem, we’ve developed a quick survey to gauge interest in some possible new NYVR events and get some additional info about the projects y’all are working on.

The survey can be found HERE.

It should not take more than a couple of minutes to fill out and it will be a great help to us as we plan to expand the offerings of NYVR. Thanks in advance for all of your help!

Virtual Reality Exercise Comes to NY

Project SingletrackTM is the first iteration of the Velo VRTM virtual reality exercise platform created by Eric Greenbaum of Jema VR.  The current prototype comprises a head mounted display adapted for use during exercise, a variable resistance exercise bike, an RPM sensor coupled to the exercise bike, and a virtual mountain biking course.  The exercise bike is coupled to the computer rendering the virtual mountain bike course such that user exercise input (RPM) translates to avatar movement on the virtual mountain bike course.