15 February 2017

Datascape in AltSpaceVR

For my last DadenU day exercise just before Christmas I decided to take a look at how to get Datascape data visualisations into the AltSpaceVR social virtual reality (SocialVR) virtual world. AltSpaceVR has always looked an interesting space as it has "enclosures" - spaces within their designed spaces that you can assign a URL to, and if that URL leads to a WebGL or AFrame (see an earlier DadenU project) page then that 3D scene is rendered inside the AltSpaceVR space. Neat!

With Datascape v2.1 we have the ability to publish visualisations to the web, and then view then either in 2D in a browser using WebGL, or switch into split-screen mode to view in Google Cardboard. So since we can do that getting something to work in AltSpaceVR should be relatively trivial, and it was.

To keep the file simple I decided to write a small Perl script to take the Datascape export/publishing format (just a list of points) and convert it into AFrame. A bit of playing around to get sizes right but I soon had some DNS data in AltSpaceVR - and being able to walk around and through it with Oculus Rift was pretty neat and very immersive.

The next challenge was to see if we could get scenery items in, so we brought in some USGS earthquake data against the globe.

Being on your own in AltSpaceVR is not what its all about so we later met up with a colleague in Spain, so there two of us were able to walk around the data, and talk on voice in a true collaborative 3D VR data analysis session.

We'll continue to mature the export to AltSpaceVR and hopefully incorporate it as a feature in v2.2, and possibly an unsupported add-on for v2.1 at some point before that.

We are also looking at having some sort of a a VR Data Viz/Analytics meet in AltSpaceVR to discuss what we are doing, and anyone else who is playing in this space - details to follow.

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