Virtual Reality Workstation
Caltech Library now has a Virtual Reality Workstation that is available to the Caltech Community. The Workstation includes a HTC Vive goggles, 2 Vive controllers, and a computer with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card.
To use the workstation, reserve the “Group Meeting Room” (Sherman Fairchild 326) at http://libcal.caltech.edu/booking/taroom. Then check out the key to the workstation at the SFL circulation desk.
Have you used the workstation? How was your experience? Send us feedback at helpdesk [at] library.caltech.edu
We can provide a demonstration of the VR workstation - schedule a session by emailing tmorrell [at] caltech.edu
Supported VR Software List - You can find these pre-installed VR programs under Start/Steam. Login information is provided on the cart information sheet. You should be able to download other free VR software from the Steam store. If you run into any problems, contact us at helpdesk [at] library.caltech.edu
VR Software from the Caltech Community - A list of VR software that you can download and use, created by the Caltech Community. You'll have to unzip the _data folder and move the folder with content to the same level as the .exe application.
Tips and Tricks
- The VR workstation is set to use all the space within the orange tape on the carpet. It is best if you move all tables and chairs to the side of the room. The tables fold up by pulling a lever under the table top toward the edge of the table.
- You can adjust size of the head strap using Velcro tabs on both sides.
- It can be helpful to set your Interpupillary distance (IPD). Measure your IPD by using the card in the cart, or following the instructions at http://doc-ok.org/?p=898. Set your IPD by adjusting the knob on the lower right hand side of the headset.
- If you wear glasses it can be easier to get your glasses positioned first, before putting on the head strap. The distance between the headset and lenses can be adjusted by popping out the gray rings on the side of the headset and rotating. Make sure to push the gray rings back in once you are happy with the distance.
- The lenses can sometimes get dirty. You can gently clean them with the microfiber cloth in the cart.
Creating Custom Environments in Unity
The workstation has Unity 5.6.0, which can be used to create new interactive worlds. It’s easy to import a 3D object generated elsewhere and place it into a VR environment.
To set up a basic environment:
- Open SteamVR
- Open up Unity and make a New project. Click Add Asset Package and check SteamVR. Save the project to your IMSS share
- You’ll get a list of recommended project settings. Click Accept All
- There will be a SteamVR folder in your Assets panel. These are the elements you need to make Unity talk to the VR goggles.
- Double Click on SteamVR and Prefabs
- Drag CameraRig and SteamVR to your project (the panel just above assets)
- Delete Main Camera (you’re using the VR goggles as your camera)
- Change the far right panel to “Inspector” by clicking the label at the top
- Click on the CameraRig in your project and set the size option of Steam VR_Play Area as “Calibrated”
- Drag your .mtl file to your Assets
- Drag your .obj file to your Assets.
- Drag your object (will have a blue box icon) to your project. You’ll now see the object on the preview screen.
- Move and orient your object in the play space by selecting 'moving' (the cross symbol) and clicking/dragging along the axes in the middle of the object. Rotate the object by clicking the circular rotate symbol and clicking/dragging along an axis of rotation.
- Click the play button at the top of the window to view the object in the 3D goggles!
- You can package your visualization as a Windows program (.exe) by clicking File/Build and Run and using the default setting
Utilizing Vive Controllers in Unity
As of 4/2017, the built in controllers in SteamVR do not function with the HTC Vive. The version of Unity Plugin at https://github.com/bddckr/steamvr_unity_plugin/tree/fix/update-poses seems to fix the problem. Talk to Tom for details about the workaround.
- Download your pdb file
- Open up VMD (Under Start/University of Illinois)
- Go to File/New Molecule and find your pdb file
- Go to Graphics/Representations
- Change the Drawing Method to something volumetric (New Cartoon works well). You may have to hit “Create Rep” to generate the representation and “Delete Rep” to delete the lines (these won’t show up in the VR environment)
- You can pick out segments of the protein by using the Selected Atoms area (enter something like “chain A”
- For each color you want to use, use a separate representation. You can select a solid color by selecting the “ColorID” Coloring method
- Turn off axes by clicking Display/Axes/Off
- Save your representation by going to “File/Render” and selecting “Wavefront (OBJ and MTL)” Click the “Browse” button. Navigate to a location to save your object and type in a filename with .obj extension (eg. “rendered.obj”). Then click “Start Rendering”. VMD will generate an .obj and .mtl file
Sharing your VR Creation
Have you created a VR application you want to share with the Caltech community? Upload it to https://data.caltech.edu by clicking "Submit a Data Set" and choosing the resource type "Interactive Resource". Make sure to zip your "application"_data folder and upload it along with the .exe application.
Other Campus VR Resources
Contact each organization for more information and access
Bruce Murray Laboratory for Planetary Visualization - Division of Geological & Planetary Sciences, Arms 262.
Center for Data-Driven Discovery - Powell-Booth Laboratory
Art House - Building 67 Annex