‘V’, The Universal Dashboard for VR, Launches Open Beta

And coming soon to Vive

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V is a universal dashboard for virtual reality experiences which lets you load websites and webapps like Slack, Spotify, and Soundcloud inside of your favorite VR games. Today the software launches as a free open beta for the Rift.

A universal web dashboard that spans every VR experience is an awesome idea on paper, but convincing every developer to integrate some newfangled app is an unlikely proposition. The beauty of V is that it doesn’t need platform or developer buy-in; the app smartly injects itself into most VR games, with no special integration needed from the developer.

V works like a web dashboard that can be called up at any time inside of VR. You can use it to watch videos, listen to music, and do pretty much anything else you might do on the web from within your favorite VR app. We first got a good look at V back in May, and today it launched as a free open beta for the Oculus Rift.

‘V’ Open Beta

You can imagine you’re playing Elite Dangerous and want to look up a tutorial for a quest you’ve never done before. Well, why not do it from the comfort of your spaceship’s cockpit? V makes that possible.

Looking forward to listening to music while you spend hours sculpting virtual models in Medium? With V, you can have your Spotify playlist at your side without ever taking off the headset.

SEE ALSO
Universal VR Web Dashboard, 'V', Gets Support for Vive & SteamVR Headsets

V is an unobtrusive little app that sits quietly in your computer’s taskbar out the outset, and injects itself automatically into recognized VR experiences. Even then, V won’t bother you until you need it. When the time comes, give your headset a firm double-tap with your finger (or press Shift on the keyboard), then find the white dot at the top left of your view. Staring at the dot will invoke V, and bring it seamlessly into the VR world around you. Now you can choose from a number of predefined bookmarks or type your own URL, and you can easily move and resize the floating browser window, as well as scroll and click it as you’d expect. Normally the dashboard will vanish when you’re done with it, but if you want to keep your web page open you can pin it in place so that it remains there when you return to your present VR application:

While today’s open beta supports just one browser window at a time, the ultimate vision for V is to be a helpful dashboard of webpages, web apps, and native widgets that let you do useful stuff without leaving virtual reality. The one browser window restriction is for now a performance limitation; the browser is built on Chromium, and it turns out that web browsing can actually take a decent chunk of system resources to do its job, especially if trying to play high-quality flash video while running on top of a VR app that needs to maintain 90 FPS. As computers get more powerful, and as V finds ways to continue to optimize its lurking presence, the dashboard will be able to open up more fully, says V co-founder Tyler Andersen. He explained that V tries to keep itself within a small performance envelope to minimize impact on the foreground VR application which will always have priorty over V, which will go so far as to freeze itself if it finds the VR app’s framerate dropping under 90 FPS.

SEE ALSO
Universal VR Web Dashboard, 'V', Gets Support for Vive & SteamVR Headsets

The V open beta supports the Xbox gamepad as well as keyboard and mouse, though Andersen tells me that Touch support is in the works, and teases that it makes interactions with the dashboard much easier. Today’s open beta only supports the Rift, but Andersen says that the obvious next step is Vive support, and that it will be released in a future update which will also bring support for Touch and Vive controllers.

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  • Cool project! I wonder how tis injects inside other apps… it goes writing automatically inside the frame buffer of the graphic card?

    • Matt Schoen

      Something like that. It’s rather common process to allow us to inject our code into the app. Other apps like FRAPS, OBS, and of course the Steam Overlay and Raptr and things do the same. V is unique in that it is able to render in the Rift!

      • OgreTactics

        Is it Touch/Pans and even hand-tracking enabled (with the help of a Leap for example) so you can move and resize windows, buttons and interfaces with your hands or surrogates?

  • Steve Biegun

    “… give your headset a firm double-tap with your finger (or press Shift on the keyboard), then find the white dot at the top left of your view. Staring at the dot will invoke V, and bring it seamlessly into the VR world around you.” How exactly does this work? There is no sensor there, so is the headset just registering the slight movement from a double-tap push?

    • Matt Schoen

      Yep! The slight, rapid changes to head rotation are registered as a “tap” which is something that you don’t do in the course of normal usage. That way we can invoke our interface without using up a button on the controller or keyboard. We wouldn’t want you to have to fire ze missiles to invoke V!

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    Way too early for this kind of application, current hardware is not fit to replace an entire desktop PC.
    Waste of time, even not as user friendly as just using the PC screen itself.
    Maybe over 5 years this has potential, but we have no idea how good the hardware will be over 5 years yet.

    As stated 8k per eye is needed for a human to see clear, currently we are on 1k.
    Will be good business for the glasses industry again for users whom went into this a long time, forcing their eyes to try to read the content ;-)
    Nice idea, just way to early , sorry guys.

    • Matt Schoen

      I’ll take that as a compliment ;)

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        The idea is good as many others also making similar apps, but its just wasting time as the hardware is not fit for it yet.
        If you see that as a compliment it fine lol.
        For me its more like trying to build an F1 car with the resources from 100 years ago lol.
        Partly it can fulfill the needs, but i see more future for those kind of application later on, maybe in VR but eventually AR is the platform that is going to rule those kind applications to end users.
        But then again that’s going to be in more far future (several years)
        The compliment from my side is the idea, but cant say the same for the result, not that the dev team does not want to make it good, its just limited to the equipment currently available.

    • George Vieira IV

      I’ve used my Rift in “Bigscreen”, and while not perfect it sure is a convenient way to do some stuff in VR and not, without taking the headset off and on again.

      From my understanding this project seems to be about convenience more than perfection. Not a straight out replacement for a standard desktop.

    • OgreTactics

      VR is NOT meant to replace an entire PC desktop. It’s a visual interface like screens, not a machine, unless for the convenience of a pluggable smartphone in VR mode.

      And NO that’s bullshit, the amalgamated FOV of humans vision is roughly 11K, but you’re right that it is important however to have a “readable” resolution for people to be able not just to experience entertainment but actually work in VR.

      And yet, you’re tiring your eyes by looking at the ridiculously tiny screen of a smartphone everyday, besides missing the point of this app which is the first modular VR UI dashboard.

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        Maybe you understood me wrong, desktop i refer to as “windows desktop” not a desktop computer irself as being a machine, which is also an interface in a way.

        • OgreTactics

          Yes, but it’s worth exploring now: maybe VR screen will require and work even for long text with bigger or other fonts, maybe it’s the opportunity to explore and develop all sorts of modular, contextual, spatial interfaces rather than waiting for dumb unefficient translation of flat interface like Windows.

          I don’t think the resolution is a limitation to that, unless for text with which I agree and is the reason why resolution is crucial.

          • DiGiCT Ltd

            MSAA solves text issues in VR but still its not that comfortable to read.
            The problem is more that text is something static and you look longer at it, which lets you suddenly notice the screendoors.
            However when stuff moves the screendoor are not so noticed due to you brain is busy following the object “tracking” instead on wher reading lets your brain go into focus mode.
            Simialr problem happens when you want to use a sniper gun in a vr game on a long distance ;-)

  • Singularity Scholar

    Finally! I have been waiting for a dashboard like this since first trying VR, watching Youtube while on my spaceship will be awesome.

  • Firestorm185

    Wow! that’s amazing! I’m glad there’s slack integration, it’ll be interesting to text people on my FRC team while playing Windlands! XD Thanks for giving such an easy to use solution, guys!

  • Great idea. For those that can use this without causing VR issues. It is never too early to prototype a desire, something people want. It can only improve with user feedback and continued R&D.

  • dsz

    “the world’s first Virtual Reality Dashboard.”

    Did they hear about some unknown software called SteamVR ? I heard it had a dashboard…

    • OgreTactics

      So does Oculus Rift/Gear…and they don’t make sense in VR.

  • Nik

    awesome!

  • OgreTactics

    Finally a step towards modular VR UI.

    When your “screen” or rather visual interface is your field-of-view and a 360° environment, windows and frames don’t make sense anymore.