Dienstag, 16. Juni 2020

This blog moved

I created a new blog at https://ksick.dev which includes everything you can find here and some new posts about general programming topics.

See you there,

Dienstag, 9. Juni 2015


In a few weeks my semester is over and therefore I'm going to finish my bachelor thesis about mobile VR soon. As I told you in the beginning I was to write a blog about mobile Apps for VR glasses, the goggles themselves and some other topics around mobile VR.

This blog was the first one I have written and I have to say, that it was really interesting. It was cool trying to get some information or news and share them to others over the internet. I learned a lot of new things about mobile VR and hope that I could help some people with their issues.

What's next?
I'm really interested in Virtual & Augmented Reality and I'll be dealing with these topics in the future. Maybe I'll post some stuff here from time to time, if I find something that's worth posting.

Alright - I hope you enjoyed reading my blog. - Bye :-)

VR glasses

Today I tested some VR goggles and now I'd like to tell you my opinion about those glasses.

As you can see on the picture above I've tested four (five) different goggles with three devices and rated them according to my checklist, which consists of the following points:
  • FOV (field of view)
  • Adaptability (to different screen sizes)
  • Fitting
  • Cleaning
  • Processing
  • Usability
  • Cost-benefit ratio

Why did i choose this criteria?

To me a big field of view is very important when it comes to VR experience. Because I believe that you get the best experience when your FOV is limited by your physical abilities (your eyes) and not by the glasses.
As there are many different phones with different screen sizes available on the market, VR goggles should work good with as many phones as possible. I've used 3 different phones for testing the adaptability:
OnePlus One (5.5 inch), LG Nexus 5 (4.9 inch), Samsung Galaxy S3 mini (4 inch)

VR glasses should be comfortable and fit everybody, therefore I added this criteria.
Nobody wants to play with blurred glasses. The quality of the VR experience suffers a lot from blurred glasses.
To me also the processing is an important criteria. Because you don't want to use glasses where you have the feeling they are breaking between your fingers just when you touch them.
Are the glasses easy to set up? What about carrying them around? That are just two of many important questions when it comes to usability.
Cost-benefit ratio
Of course the price is also important when it comes to buying something new, so I thought the cost-benefit ratio was not to be omitted.

The goggles

I've tested four glasses that are available on the market and one goggle my professor has printed with the 3D-printer. The self printed glasses are out of competition because they are my favourites anyway (how cool is it to design and print your own VR glasses ;-)). But of course I'm going to present them to you in the end of this post.
But now to the glasses you can buy: 
As I told I've tested and compared four of them:

4th Place: Durovis Dive 5 (54 out of 70 points)
Those goggles are the most expensive ones from all tested glasses, but still (or maybe because of this) it reached the last place in my ranking. The Durovis Dive 5 is well made, but it's not extraordinary, which you would expect for the price of  €48.98. In the following I'll tell you my opinion about the Dive in the categories I've posted above.

  • FOV (field of view): 8/10 points
    • The FOV of this glasses is okay. The lenses (diameter: 32mm) could be a bit larger to make it bigger but it's enough for a good VR experience
  • Adaptability: 5/10 points
    • The Durovis Dive 5 fits perfectly for the Nexus 5 (4.9 inch) but you can't even close the lid if you are using a bigger phone (like the OnePlus One with 5.5 inch). The experience with the smaller phone - the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini (4 inch) was ok, but it could be a lot better
  • Fitting: 7/10 points
    • This goggles would be very comfortable (actually they are the most comfortable glasses I've tested) but they don't provide a good head mount (you just have a strap around your head, but not on the top of the head, which is really important)
  • Cleaning: 10/10 points
    • It's very easy to clean the lenses of the Durovis Dive 5 - you can totally put them out or just clean them without (re)moving them
  • Processing: 10/10 points
    • The processing of this goggles is very good! The foam material that covers the plastic where it touches the face looks good and makes them really comfortable to wear. Also the other parts are well considered and designed
  • Usability: 8/10 points
    • Adjusting the lenses: it's very difficult to adjust the lenses perfectly. The mechanism would be very easy but it's different to get both lenses in the right position, because you can move them very far without any regulations. A good thing is, that you can move it to the left/right and closer/away from your face. This way you can compensate different pupillary distances and poor eyesight
    • Adjust head mount: adjusting the head mount is very easy and works good, altough it doesn't make much sense because the strap over the head is missing
    • Transport and using outside: By carrying the Dive in your bag you have to watch out to not move the lenses (otherwise a lots of tries to adjust them again may follow ;-)). You can use them outside pretty good, because they are closed on the sides and therefore protect against sunlight
    • Magnet button: can be bought for €5.95
  • Cost-benefit ratio: 6/10 points
    • Price: €49.98
    • The cost-benefit ratio is ok.. I think the goggles are a bit too pricy, because they don't bring any huge advantages to the other glasses which are way cheaper. The only big plus is the comfort while wearing the glasses. But for this price I'd expect bigger lenses, a strap over the head and a better system to adjust the lenses
3rd Place: AntVR (58 out of 70 points)
These glasses came as a surprise with the bigger version of the AntVR (an alternative to the Oculus Rift). I think that it's a cool idea to ship mobile VR glasses with the VR glasses for computer games. (By mentioning the AntVR in the following I'm always talking about the mobile version)

  •  FOV (field of view): 9/10 points
    • If you just look at the FOV the AntVR is one of the best goggles. With 40mm lenses the AntVR provides a huge field of view. The only thing that lets it appear smaller is, that the glasses are not limited on the side and therefore a lot of light comes in
  • Adaptability: 8/10 points
    • The AntVR works very well with the two large phones (the Nexus 5 and the OnePlus One). With the S3 mini the VR experience was ok, but it could be way better
  • Fitting: 5/10 points
    • The fitting of these glasses is ok, but could be improved a lot. For example a strap over the head and some foaming material would be a nice point to start off
  • Cleaning: 10/10 points
    • Cleaning the lenses works well
  • Processing: 9/10 points
    • The processing of the AntVR is good - it's a cool design, good material and seems very stable
  • Usability: 7/10 points
    • Adjusting the lenses: As the lenses are very wide it's not possible to provide a big moving mechanism for the lenses. You can move them to the left/right for about 2mm, which is totally enough. You can't change the distance between your eyes and the glasses, but you can wear glasses underneath, which makes this configuration less important
    • Adjust head mount: adjusting the head mount is very easy and works good, altough it doesn't make much sense because the strap over the head is missing
    • Transport and using outside: The AntVR are definitely the best glasses for carrying around. You can fold them to a small, robust package and just open them to put your phone in if you want to. But using them outside in the sun is very bad, because a lot of light comes in from the side, which is really disturbing to me.
    • Magnet button: not available
  • Cost-benefit ratio: 10/10 points
    • Price: --
    • As I told you the mobile version comes for free with its "big brother" ;-). So the cost-benefit ratio can't be anything else than perfect

2nd Place: ColorCross (59 out of 70 points)
The ColorCross glasses are the glasses I am using most of the time for testing playing or testing new apps. I really like them, but still they only reached the second place in my ranking.

  • FOV (field of view): 8/10 points
    • The FOV of this glasses is okay. The lenses (diameter: 32mm) could be a bit larger to make it bigger but it's enough for a good VR experience
  • Adaptability: 7/10 points
    • The Nexus 5 fitted just perfectly into the ColorCross goggles. It was ok whit the bigger OnePlus One and the smaller Galaxy S3 mini, but the VR experience was not very good with those phones anymore
  • Fitting: 8/10 points
    • A really nice thing about this goggles is, that the head mount is very good. There are two straps - one around and the other one above the head
      But the comfort is not that good at this glasses. There is no foaming material that covers the parts touching the face so after some time the glasses get uncomfortable and you always have red stripes across your cheeks after wearing it. Another point is, that the glasses are made for people with small faces ;-) If you have a bigger face they get more uncomfortable
  • Cleaning: 8/10 points
    • You can screw the lenses of the ColorCross out for cleaning. It works pretty good but it takes a bit more time than with other goggles
  • Processing: 10/10 points
    • The processing of this goggles is very good! The plastic seems to be a good material and looks good
  • Usability: 9/10 points
    • Adjusting the lenses: I think that the people who manufactured the ColorCross just found the perfect system for adjusting the lenses. You can adjust the lenses to the left and the right with two sliders on the top, to get the lenses closer to or away from your face you can screw them in or out. A big advantage of this system is, that the lenses don't slip out of their position, even if you put them in a bag ore something like this
    • Adjust head mount: adjusting the head mount is very easy and works good
    • Transport and using outside: By transporting the ColorCross you don't have to be afraid to break anything or to move the lenses - it's a very good system. Also using it outside works well, because the sides are covered with black plastic
    • Magnet button: not available
  • Cost-benefit ratio: 6/10 points
    • Price: €19.99
    • The cost-benefit ratio is very good! You get a lot for your money and the glasses are totally worth the €19.99

1st Place: MB-VR61 3D VR Helmet (64 out of 70 points)
These VR glasses are definitely the best glasses out of the goggles I've tested. They look great and they are very good to use.

  • FOV (field of view): 10/10 points
    • Altough the lenses are only 2mm bigger than the lenses of the ColorCross or the Durovis the FOV is awesome
  • Adaptability: 9/10 points
    • The glasses worked perfectly with the Nexus 5 and the OnePlus One. It was ok with the Samsung Galaxy S3 mini, which surprised me a bit but was pretty cool
  • Fitting: 8/10 points
    • The MB-VR61 VR glasses provide a good head mount (with a strap around and over the head) and some foaming material on the parts that cover the face. But there is one big minus: The goggles are made for peoply with really small noses - the "nose-part" is not covered with any foaming material and the glasses apply a big pressure on your nose. We even tried to put something soft over this part, but still your nose starts to hurt after a few minutes
  • Cleaning: 7/10 points
    • Cleaning the lenses on the side where your eyes are is very easy, but it's hard to reach them at the other side
  • Processing: 10/10 points
    • The processing is just awesome! The glasses are well designed and made out of a cool-looking shiny plastic
  • Usability: 10/10 points
    • Adjusting the lenses: You can't adjust the lenses of the goggles, but the lenses are extra wide, so it's not necessary to adjust them to the side. The only adjustment that would be good, is an adjustment of the distance between your eyes and the lenses
    • Adjust head mount: adjusting the head mount is very easy and works good
    • Transport and using outside: You don't have to fear to break anything by transporting the 3D VR helmet (and you can't move the lenses anyway ;-)). Using them outside works good, as both sides are covered with plastic
    • Magnet button: not available
  • Cost-benefit ratio: 10/10 points
    • Price: €19.99
    • The cost-benefit ratio is awesome with this glasses. You really get a lot for your money and the glasses are great
Out of competition: the self printed goggles
As I told you before my professor has printed his own glasses with a 3D printer. Those glasses are my favourites, just because they are cool ;-).
You can highly customize them to your own phone by designing them. Of course there are some parts mitssing like a head mount. Adjustable lenses are not really necessary because you can align them in the right distance anyway.

Testing the glasses was very interesting for me, because I found out what's really important when it comes to VR glasses. The most important things to me is the FOV and the fitting/comfort of the goggles. The best glasses are the MB-VR61 VR goggles - they have a good (ok) fit, look good and the FOV is amazing.

Mittwoch, 3. Juni 2015

Mirror your computer desktop to your phone via Cardboard VNC

Just imagine you are sitting in a plane, a train or somewhere in the city and you'd like to do something on your computer. Often there is not many space to put out your laptop and start working. So wouldn't it be great to see everything that's on your desktop through your VR glasses? Just run the laptop, put it to the side and start working with your glasses and e.g. a Bluetooth keypad and mouse. With Cardboard VNC (VNC = Virtual Network Computing) you can do that. You just need the app and a program for your computer to run the VNC server.

Set up the VNC Server at your computer
Download and install RealVNC (you just need to install the server - you don't need the viewer). After installing it follow the link to the website to get your free key - there you have 3 choices - take the third one, which say "free license only, without premium features".  Copy your license key and finish the installation (just follow the steps). After installing it, start the server.

Set up the VNC Viewer at your phone
Download and start Cardboard VNC Free. Click on the button "+" in the bottom right to add a new server.
Just enter any name you want in the first field. In the second field enter the IP, you can see at your server followed by a ":" and the port (default is 5900).
If you set a password during the installation of your server enter it in the next field.
When viewing your desktop with your VR glasses you can choose between two modes - you can control the cursor with your looks and the magnet button of your cardboard (if you have one) or you can just control it like you are used  to with a mouse. I prefer the second mode but just try it out. If you want the second mode just check "Viewer Mode". Click "save" in the top right, start the viewer by clicking on its name and put your phone into your glasses.

Samstag, 23. Mai 2015

Screenmirroring & Article about Google Cardboard


I'm sorry that there haven't been posts for such a long time... But now I'm back with a new post and there are going to be a few more in the next weeks ;-)

So what am I going to write about today? First I want to show you a possibility to mirror the screen of your phone to your laptop via Wi-Fi. I spent some time on figuring out how to do this, because if you are playing VR games on your phone none of your friends around can see where you are right now or what scares you so much. If you simply mirror the things you see to a laptop your friends can understand why you are having so much fun right now. The second thing I want to tell you about today is an article about Google Cardboard I found at golem.de.


I believe that mirroring your screen makes VR-gaming on your phone a bit more social. It's more fun to play in groups when everybody can see what you are going through.
So how can you mirror your screen?
On my laptop I am using the AllCast Receiver. It's a Chrome app which means you have to install Chrome on your computer (if you haven't done this yet).
After opening Chrome click HERE to get the AllCast Receiver App. Now your computer is prepared - let's switch to your Android phone. Here you have to install Mirror Beta (I also tried it with the AllCast App but with this App you can only view photos, videos and stuff like this but it's not possible to mirror your screen).
After you have installed both apps just make sure that both components (phone & computer) are in the same network and start the receiver. After this start the app at your phone and look for your computer by clicking at it you start mirroring. Now you can do anything you want on your phone and see it on your computer too. By swiping down from the top you can stop mirroring or decide whether you want to show touches on the screen or not (which doesn't really matter to us because the phone is in the glasses anyway).
Depending on your network it can be that there is a little lag but normally it should work very well.

Article at golem.de

I told you that I've found an interesting article about VR at golem.de. Now I want to tell you a bit about what they are writing and my opinion about it. 

At first they are introducing the Cardboard as the probably most unremarkable but cheapest VR-glasses. Originally you couldn't even buy it - Google just spread it at their developer conference I/O. Now they are also selling it and there are lots of other VR-glasses for mobile devices available too. One thing they also say, is that you should be aware that the glasses you are buying have this magnet button on the side, which simulates a tap on the display. From my experience I can say that this button is mostly needed in the original cardboard apps but most of the apps are just controlled by gestures so the button is a good feature but not necessary.

Then they started writing about the Google Cardboard app. I believe that this app is good for users that are starting with VR - and in their article you can see that they have the same opinion. The apps they are listing in the Cardboard app are fun but there are also better apps available on the market. But you can not only test apps they also provide some demos, movies and you can also view your own videos. One feature the writer of the article was really impressed about was the Photo-Sphere-Viewer. I have to agree the Photo-Sphere-Viewer is just awesome!! With the Google Camera App you can take Photo Spheres (it works similar to taking Panorama Photos but you have to go in all directions in order to create a sphere). While taking the pic it doesn't look good at all but after you finished it and view your photo sphere with your glasses it looks amazing - you have to try it out! You can also view your old panorama photos with this viewer - just rename it to PANO_*yourname*.jpg. But the photos may need some editing - you can do this with Photosphere XMP Tagger or you can view already existing spheres from Orbulus.

Next they are talking about videos - there are some videos of life concerts, sport events or you can sit next to a car racer. The great thing about these videos is, that you have the full 360° view and turn your head in every direction. One thing I don't like that much about those videos is that there is no user interaction as you are just watching the scenes. 
The writer of the article also says that in the long term it's more interesting to create your own film and view it in 3D. As he writes it should be pretty easy to create such a film (you just need two cameras and a converter) and you can view it for example with Cardboard Theater. They recommend two apps to view and create photos: Those apps are Stereogram to view old photos and the paid App VR 3D Smart Cardboard where you can take photos with the stereo effect (when you are looking at a VR app without your glasses you can see that the 2 images for the left and right eye are not completely the same - there is a little offset in one direction). 
I really liked the Stereogram app because I'm a fan of viewing old photos - if you can "stand" in the scene and view it it's even cooler ;-)
Another app to capture 3D photos is Seene. But I don't really like this app as you can just tilt the phone a few centimeters and you can't have a look around in your photos as with the Photo Scene.

Before they are giving a conclusion they are talking about some games. They point out Vanguard V as a really good game and i have to agree. Vanguard V is fun playing and the graphics are also very good. But as lots of other VR games it's just a demo - so there is only level 1 finished.
The next game they are talking about is Proton Pulse which is a paid app so I haven't tested it yet. Another game they've tested is Lamper VR they say it's a little but pretty game and I have to agree. Lamper VR is a nice game to have fun with your VR glasses. 
Another paid game is AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! where you fall through houses and have to avoid obstacles - the VR version of this game is called Caaaaardboard!. But you are always looking down while playing this game so it's better to play it when you are already used to VR glasses because otherwise you could feel sick very fast.

In his conclusion the writer says that with the Cardboard you can get a cheap "entry" to the VR world. Of course the immersion effect and the 3D-experience of Oculus or Gear VR are better but those glasses are way more expensive. He says that he likes the cardboard is especially for taking VR photos and for kids. At the moment it seems that lots of projects don't have enough money to finish their games... Google wants to hold the costs for users as low as possible so it's difficult to fund such games because not many people pay 10€ for an app.
The fact that there are so many games not finished is a big disadvantage of mobile VR. But the thing I really like about those glasses is that you can take them anywhere just in your pocket and maybe this could be the secret to the success of the Cardboard. Let's see what the future is going to bring ;-)

If you want to read the full (German) article you can view it HERE.

Mittwoch, 11. März 2015

Bluetooth Controllers for Android devices

Hey alltogether!

Last time I showed you how to set up the ColorCross VR glasses and how to start your first app. But VR Games really start to be interesting when it comes to interact with the app, when you are able to move in the game and to make some actions. Of course it's not possible to control the game over the touchscreen of your phone because you can't reach it. So there are two possibilities left: Controlling the game by moving your head or using a controller. Both are pretty common in VR games.

Today I'm going to write about two controllers you can use for playing and how to connect them to your Android phone.
At first I'd like to show you the controller I'm using: the idroid:con from Snakebyte, then I'm going to write about the iPega PG-9021

Snakebyte idroid:con

How to connect the controller to your Android phone
The idroid:con from Snakebyte is a wireless controller you can use for Android and iOS devices. You can start it in 5 different modes:

Mode Button LED Systems
Game Controller 1 X 1 Android 3.2+ / PC
Game Controller 2 X + Y 1 + 2 Android 3.2+ / PC
Keyboard A 3 Android 2.3+ / iOS / PC
Mouse B 2 Android 2.3+ / PC
Keyboard & Mouse A+B 2 + 3 Android 2.3+ / PC
iCade Y 1 + 3 iOS

To power the controller on you just press the button for your desired mode and the power button for 3 seconds.
For the most apps it's good to start the controller in Gamepad mode (Power + X) but for some apps you need to start the controller in the Keyboard mode (Power + A).
After turning on the controller activate Bluetooth on your Android device, search for the controller and pair it to your device. After this you can use the controller with your phone :-)

My opinion
You can buy the controller on Amazon for €18,50. I think you get a really good value for your money. The idroid:con is easy to connect and use and you can set it up really fast.

iPega PG-9021

How to connect the controller to your Android phone

At the beginning I had troubles connecting the controller to my Nexus. Of course I didn't read the manual and didn't know that the controller requires an app to connect it to the phone ;-)
After I've read the manual it took me about half an hour to find the right version of the app (I had to navigate through a few very strange looking Chinese websites until I finally managed to download the right apk. I've uploaded it to my Dropbox - you can download it here.
After downloading the app install it on your device and open it. After opening it, it asks you to set Bitgames IME as your default input method. To do so click on the first Button ("Bitgames IME") and check Bitgames IME as an input method. Return to the app, click on the second Button ("Default Input Method") and select Bitgames IME. After this click "Done" and navigate to "My Device" in the menu at the bottom.

Power your controller on (to power it on expand the plastic in the middle and look for the power switch). Afterwards click on the "Add Gamepad" Button, search for your device and select "Bind". After this you are ready to play :-)

My opinion
You can buy the controller on Amazon for €24,99. It's a bit pricier than the idroid:con but I really prefer the idroid:con.
One thing that's really annoying about this game pad is that you always have to reconnect it to your phone after powering off the controller.
On the other hand a big plus is the plastic thing in the middle where you can put your phone in. It doesn't make any difference for VR games, but it's really nice if you are playing "normal" games with the controller.


When it comes to choosing between the Snakebyte idroid:con and the iPega PG-9021 I'd definitely choose the Snakebyte controller. It's way easier to connect (and you don't have to download this strange app from an even more strange Chinese website ;-)) and also cheaper.

Dienstag, 24. Februar 2015

Virtual Reality for Android Smartphones: Setup and first app

Wouldn't it be great to escape reality from time to time and to just beam yourself to another country, to outer space or anywhere else?
Well, I think it would be  - and with VR it's possible. And even better: with VR for smartphones it is possible everywhere!

That's the reason why I'm starting this blog. My name is Kathi and I really like the idea of escaping into another world anytime I want to. In the upcoming posts I'm going to write about the best games, the glasses and controllers available, the right setup and much more.

Let's start with my equipment and my first experience with mobile VR:

My Equipment:

I am using the ColorCross Universal Virtual Reality 3D & Videoglasses
On Amazon they say you can use it for smartphones with screen sizes from 3.5 to 6 inches. When I am using it with my Nexus5 (5 inch) it's just perfect, but I wouldn't recommend it for bigger devices. I've also tried it with a OnePlus One (5.5 inch) but the experience is not as good as with the smaller phone because a part of the screen is missing and so the 3D Image doesn't look really good because the image for one lens is different from the image for the other lens. I haven't tried it with smaller devices yet, so I don't know how it works out with smaller phones.

As I told you before, I am using a Nexus 5 - it's just perfect for the glasses I'm using.

Here I'm using the Snakebyte iDroid:con

Set up everything and start your first app
In my first post I'd like to show you the first app I've tried with mobile VR. It's just a roller coaster demo - but I think it's awesome! I even felt a bit dizzy after my first "ride".

At first download this app to adjust your glasses.

Adjusting the glasses: you can adjust the ColorCross VR glasses pretty good to match your phone. At first you open it like in the following picture and put your phone in. Then you can see if the size of your phone fits to the glasses, or if you have to make the holder a bit larger. You can do this by pulling out the plastic on one side (picture 2).

Then start the app you downloaded before and put your phone into the glasses. With the app you know how the distance between your lenses has to be. You can adjust the lenses with the slider on top of the glasses (picture 3).  After adjusting your lenses you are ready to start!

Let's start with the first app I've tried - it's a roller coaster demo - you can download it here.
After downloading it, start it and wait for the advertisement to click it away and then you can put your phone into your glasses. By starting the app hold your phone in the direction you are going to put it in the glasses afterwards. When the roller coaster appears just stare at the pry on the right side and wait for the ride to begin. It starts really slow - time to lean back and enjoy the environment ;-)

Next time I'll write about the controllers and of course a few more games. - Kathi