Flo and I had a good time recording the first episode of the year. Maybe because it’s still close to the holidays and there hasn’t been any really terrible Google news to talk about yet?
Whatever! Yay! No terrible news!
Instead, we’ve got news about two of Google’s most interesting works-in-progress: the Fuchsia operating system and those neat little Project Soli radar modules that could enable brilliant new touchless interfaces.
Stream it from our podcast’s official page on Relay.fm. Better yet…go there and subscribe.
This week on Material: Google is Naughty (not treating contract workers with respect, trying to patent an MIT Media Lab researcher’s ideas after interviewing her for a job) and Nice (giving Santa a digital place to hang out and mingle).
Also: the correct pronunciation of the word “Fuschia” does not come naturally to me.
Russell, Yasmine and I got to spend an hour talking about Google’s VR plans in general and Daydream in particular, with Google senior designers Manuel Clément and Robbie Tilton. It was a swell opportunity to go beyond the hardware that was demonstrated at I/O and talk about the level of thought that goes into the creation of an entirely new UI.
I’m eager to see how far developers take VR. Gaming is the most obvious application but to me, it’s the least interesting. We recorded the episode over a Skype video call, as usual. Why do we use video chat, when Material is released as audio? It’s because we have a better conversation when we can all see each other and pick up all kinds of little visual cues.
Over the course of the hour I couldn’t help but think about how a VR recording session would be even better. Even if I were interacting with four VR approximations of flat video screens, the ability to turn to face the person I’m focusing on would root me in the conversation, and it’s also help everyone to feel the direction of the talk as it moves between people.
Oculus Theater kind of blew my mind when I used it for the first time. It’s a simple MP4 video player that inserts the 2D video into the screen of a multiplex-style theater environment, rendered in 3D. It’s way more than a cute little demo. I was watching “1776” in a real theater, which meant that for the first time I got to see it as the filmmakers intended. I’ve seen this movie on video a hundred times but this was the first time I was aware that certain people and actions were meant to be in my peripheral vision as I focused on just one side of the screen.
I’m looking forward to more revelations like that one. The good stuff in VR will come after lots of conversations about how people truly interact with their environment and with each other.