Another experience shown was a 3D painting program called TiltBrush. Players drew 3D objects by moving the controllers around and holding down the triggers. As they moved the controller, a brush stroke was drawn in 3D space and seemed to hang in the air, able to be inspected from any angle. It was spectacular to see creativity pouring out onto the 3D virtual canvas found inside the Vive. Each person drew something completely unique and new which was a lot of fun to watch.

See also: Tilt Brush’ Surprises and Delights with Best GUI at Proto Awards – Lets You Create VR Paintings with Depth

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One thing that was surprisingly prevalent was an instinct to test out the boundaries of the SteamVR tracking system right from the start. This was nice to see, but potentially dangerous too. Although blinded from the real world while inside VR, people using the Vive were protected from bumping into walls thanks to the ‘Chaperone’ system; when the user ventured too close to an edge, a white grid popped up to let them know that they should back off or risk running into the drywall. Once that limit showed up, the typical reaction was to touch the boundary to make sure that it was real, rather than immediately running off in the other direction.

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Road to VR’s Ben Lang had a similar reaction when testing the system:

After testing the boundaries of the space, and becoming confident that Chaperone is watching, you are free to believe that the virtual space you are walking around is real. I wasn’t in SteamVR for 5 minutes before I felt comfortable moving about without needing to distract myself with the location of real-world walls.

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Not only did people have the urge to touch the virtual grid-wall they also seemed to want to explore their virtual environment with sudden movements. Kneeling on the ground was popular. The ability to fully walk around in a room-scale area produced amazing reactions. It was like watching a technological evolution happen before my very eyes. It was clear that VR was progressing forward well past the seated experience of the last few years. Now people are walking around in VR, touching the ground, and feeling the walls. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before; and I’ve seen a lot of virtual reality reactions over the last year or so—this was something special.

The VRLA Spring Expo had some great exhibitors, but the Vive stole the show. Just about everyone was talking about it. Not everyone that signed up got a chance to try it, which only increased the hype. The demand was so high that Valve sent down one of their employees to make sure the system demoed properly. If problems arose, the Valve employee would step in to correct.

By the end of the day, WEVR got roughly 50 people into the new VR system, far fewer than they would have liked, but with only one system and over 1000 requests to demo there was no way that everyone would be able to see it. Even with just five minutes per demo and five minutes between each session for setup, that would be more than 8 hours straight!

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With New Headsets & Big Games in 2019, VR is Poised for an Even Better 2020

WEVR also recorded timelapse of all the demos, which can be seen in the video below. It was an amazing story to watch unfold. Note how many people approach the wall to verify that it’s really there.


For more information about WEVR’s work, be sure to visit their website. The company also recently launched a $1 Million VR Grant Program that virtual reality developers can apply for. They host open houses at their office monthly, which is definitely worth checking out. VRLA’s expos are hosted quarterly and you can sign up to be notified of their next event by subscribing to their mailing list online.


Road to VR is a proud media sponsor of VRLA

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  • Tim Suetens

    Who wants to carry a massive box like that around?? Same mistake they made in the ’90s.

    • crim3

      It’s a prototype

    • laser632

      Hardly… Consumer versions will be compact and ultimately wireless over the next couple of years. There is no comparison to how this tech was in the 80’s and 90’s. Compact HD displays, 1000hz head-tracking, laser head-tracking. This is all tech from military HMD systems. The level of realism is astonishing. Life-size true-scale stereoscopic 3d beats any imax system. Down the line there will be no discernible pixels on these devices, and when you factor in the massive leap in graphical realism we can expect with DX12 over the next few years…..

      • Don Gateley

        At age 70 (retired computer engineer still moved by awe) I am just concerned I won’t live long enough to see much of that promise at the rate its going. Hurry, guys.

  • Don Gateley

    What if all one desires is a seated experience using a controller for moving in virtual space for lack of a real space to use it otherwise? Will the content, or at least a good portion of it, be likely to accommodate that? Or will one likely find that content developers and what they produce are all about getting up and moving around?

    One would hope that content which involves real motion would be modal in allowing a simulation of that motion with buttons on the controller or some such.

    • laser632

      HMD VR will accommodate both. Oculus is more geared to seated gaming at the moment but all of these systems must be able to accommodate seated or standing players.

  • joestar

    That sounded like a really cool experience! I’m really psyched for the Vive now.

    However, is there any chance that you could use the same footage to make a compilation of the more interesting sequences–in particular one that isn’t on fast-forward? At that speed there really isn’t anything for the viewer to take away from the experience other than the fact that a lot of people tried it out. I think people want to see the players’ reactions, hear what they’re saying, and, if possible, simultaneously see what the player is seeing on a normal screen output. Just fast-forwarding through the footage doesn’t allow others to share the experience.

    • Matthew Terndrup

      Hey @joestar, the video was produced by WEVR. You can slow it down in Youtube to see some of the reactions, but that’s about it.

    • joestar

      Just read that it was WEVR’s video.

  • asplmn
  • Curtrock

    Planning out a 15X15 “VR-holodeck” space in my unfinished bsmt…. Just in case the VIVE is as good as it sounds. Yup.

  • WLF38

    Does it have focus adjustment like the Gear VR?

  • eyeandeye

    Does this headset have an IPD calibration routine like the Rift’s? Looking at green lines and such? If not, did users complain about eye strain or blurry imagery? Is it possible to design a headset that wouldn’t have to be calibrated to a person’s IPD?