Hacking Time Travel

A test scene with some decent pink floor and cars misbehaving

We are huge fans of the concept of a Hackathon. You just need a bunch of enthusiastic people, a room and some food. And then you suddenly end up building strange stuff like a room in the middle of nowhere, equipped with office furniture. Why? In order to put objects on that table that let you travel through time and space when you touch them.

One guy working and the others watching in awe

That was one of the ideas we worked on at our Hackathon, January 11th at MIZ in Babelsberg. We were a bit afraid beforehand how the participants would embrace and make use of our framework. How glad we were when we heard someone say: they are definitely on the right track here.

Easy Use

All you need is a basic understanding of HTML to start playing around with our framework that lets users combine 3d objects (gltf) with actions (components) in scenes (VR, later AR) easily in order to tell stories or explain things. XRdok allows the creation of interactive VR projects built on A-frame. Our goal: to provide a library of components that provide functionality for specific use cases and are primed for easy use instead of abstraction.

Who? What? Why? Questions you should be able to answer

But a framework is one thing. The next question is: What to build with it? After a general input we started discussing ideas and agreed on answering three questions: Who are you in a VR experience? What do you do? And why is that? With these questions answered you are good to go because you have the foundation for a learning experience.

Especially the idea to touch or combine objects in order to move in space had its charm. Imagine to virtually touch an artefact that brings you back into a 360 scenario that immerses you into the historical context. All you need to start is a 360 photo that is used to create a scene and a bunch of objects that can be found on Sketchfab or Poly.

Personal interactive experience

The other scenario we started working on was all about re-creating a scene that can be observed from different angles. Because that is a huge advantage of CGI based 3D scenes. There is a “long tradition” in VR doing stuff like that with Nonny de la Pena and her team creating the immersive docu-game “Gone Gitmo” in 2007. Just imagine to be able to do something like that on a smaller scale but all by yourself in a couple of hours or days.

Crime scenes are recreated like that by the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Zurich and there is another journalistic example that lets users walk around the Ferguson shooting scene, where Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer on 9 August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. We are curious to explore more in this context of interactive knowledge transfer.

Next Hackathon

We would dearly like to thank all participants and the MIZ for a great day. And we are already planning our next Hackathon. Just drop us a line if you are interested.

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