The prospect of existing within the Internet is a concept straight from science fiction, but one we’ve been helping to build for some time. Simply gazing upon the Internet is starting to look a bit ‘90s – but how do you go about constructing a digital universe where 2D and 3D content can coexist in a way that is both seamless and satisfying?
Meet JanusVR, a team of two VR veterans looking to reshape the way you connect to the world and its infinite digital content. Inspired in part by Snow Crash’s Metaverse, James McCrae and Karan Singh sought to build a network of VR portals within which users can collaborate, communicate, explore, and even create new 3D content.
“I got into VR back in 1995,” Karan told us. “My PhD was on humans and virtual environments. But that was a different and earlier wave, and at that time people were using things like cyber-gloves, magnetic motion trackers, giant helmets with stereoscopic displays… just kind of attached to them. It was a very different genre of equipment. This current wave is a whole lot more promising. Things like resolution, latency, accuracy – all of these are important for being able to give people a seamless suspension of disbelief.”
After a brief hiatus from VR working as a principal architect on the character animation tools that now populate Maya, Karan returned to the field to research interactive computer graphics at the University of Toronto. It was there he met James McCrae, and the pair began making JanusVR a reality.
About a year ago, when the project was just starting to take off, Karan and James decided that JanusVR needed a multi-device input solution. It was then they began prototyping navigation and locomotion UI paradigms with Leap Motion.
“Our current Leap Motion interaction design works mostly with the spatial tracking, mostly with the hand remaining open or closed, limiting the variations in dexterity that we’re using at this point.” The team plans to continue building out Leap Motion gestures and interaction schemes for the project. While the platform as a whole is still a work in progress, you can already explore the entire web, or create and play with 3D content built from (incredibly) simple HTML.
“What we are currently is a collision course of browsing, social, collaboration, and multidimensionality,” Karan said, “If you go into Janus today, it’s not about 2D or 3D or any ‘D.’ All of that co-exists. At the moment we are very focused on an immersive experience. In a reimagined world, you expect that [web applications] could sort of homogeneously co-exist, and leverage off each other to give you a richer, more seamless experience. That’s where we’re headed.”