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Futuristics: Virtual Fun

By Flynn Remedios – Futuristic Media Network

Got an important board presentation the day after? Want to spruce up your image before the chairman? It’s a once in a lifetime chance remember!!! So what do you do? Junk the conventional Powerpoint presentation and try adding a few Virtual Effects, 3D and Dolby Sound-like magic to your otherwise boring PPT. And is that possible – yes it is.

There was a time when 3D and virtual reality (VR) software and effects could only be viewed with special goggles? And, in spite of all those contraptions and contrivances, the images made a perfect recipe for sore eyes. They were crude and lacked the finesse and sophistication displayed by even some of the relatively down-market productions available today.

All that is a thing of the past. Different VR formats like the QuickTime VR developed by Apple and other similar formats from competing software companies have literally put VR on the desktop of the corporate and marketing manager.
QuickTime VR is an extension of the QuickTime technology developed by Apple Computer Inc that allows users to interactively explore and examine photorealistic, three-dimensional virtual worlds.

Unlike many other virtual reality systems, QuickTime VR does not require the user to wear goggles or gloves. Instead, the user navigates in a virtual world using standard input devices (such as the mouse or keyboard) to change the image displayed by the QuickTime VR movie controller. The images displayed in QuickTime VR movies can rendered on a computer using a three-dimensional graphics package.

Also, producing software for such applications is quite easy, thanks to applications like QTVR Authoring Studio and several others that are available at affordable prices. Some VR production software is also available as shareware on the internet – obviously such shareware wouldn’t incorporate all the finer features.

This means that producing VR applications and presentations is as convenient as producing Word or PowerPoint demos. Hypothetically yes, though it may be difficult for the uninitiated and Latin and Greek for still others who can barely use MS Word.

However, for those who master this product, with a few clicks of the mouse and a couple of scanned images, the software allows the developer to add effects that range from the downright bizarre to the completely grotesque. All this in the minimum possible time, so that corporate managers can actually carry all the production software on their laptops and change VR demos and presentations enroute from one meeting to the other.

So while in Mumbai you can open your presentation with a background image of the Gateway of India and some high-pitched Mumbai-local train chatter as your background score and when in Delhi change the introduction template to include the India Gate and some Karol Bagh tamasha – if that’s your cup of tea.

The most important feature of the currently available VR production software is the portability they offer and their capability to suck out relevant data from standard RDBMS systems or even from ERP and other MIS software. The VR software can draw out data in real-time from say an ERP product like SAP and simultaneously modify the presentation that could include a graph or a pie-chart embedded within another graphic. Of course, besides VR, several other presentation packages make just as good or even better presentations, but the novelty of having a VR embedded presentation can still turn heads and make headlines in the press the next day.

Another aspect is the simplicity and compactness of the generated VR files. They occupy just a few megabytes of hard disk space, and can be stored on a small laptop. If the images are huge, they can be stored on a media server and by incorporating a format like OBVI (Object-based video interface) into the VR presentation, they can be only downloaded via the internet as and when required. The manager can leave the image files on his server and stream them into his presentations.

As these techniques progress to dizzy heights of technical sophistication and software becomes easier to use and even easier to carry around and integrate, we owe these benefits largely to the internet that has made portability a de facto requirement.

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