Tilt Brush, which lets you paint in brushstrokes of glowing solid light, is by far the best non-game VR application I've tried out so far -- and thanks to fellow Linden alum Reuben Steiger, whose new company co-sponsored a huge virtual reality party/demo show last night, I got to leap into quite a few.
Rather, the effect was impressive. Developed by Google, the user interface for Tilt Brush is pretty counter-intuitive and kludgy. (Instead of selecting different brushes and paints which actually look like brushes or paints, the more intuitive choice, you have to page through a 3D menu which seems more suitable to 2D.) Once you more or less get it going, however, it is pretty magical: Using Vive's hand controls, you're able to draw in the space in front of you, and to a striking degree, actually feel what you're creating as solid, reactive entities. Specific example: There's a seriously cool fire font in Tilt Brush which paints rivulets of spinning flame wherever you wave -- and if you paint these strokes close to you, you can actually feel the warmth against your cheeks, more or less as you would whenever you blow out a candle.
I mean, if you're asking me if this is the killer app of VR, that's a totally different question:
Like any creative tech toy/toolkit, you're probrably only going to get just a minority that really dives into and masters it, and uses it over a long period of time. But more than that, the form factor is the barrier: The Vive headset in particular is notably heavy and bulky, and requires you to drag around a thick cable: Your de facto tether to the real world, reminding you that all is illusion -- and easy to trip on, if you get too excited. (My legs got tangled/bumped by the Vive cable in pretty much every demo I tried.)
But all that to one side: Can confirm magic does happen.
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