This is a new, experimental class serving to address three needs largely missing from the current VR / AR zeitgeist.

1) It presents an organizational framework for understanding the basic foundations “under the hood” of VR / AR. 

This framework begins by asking how do you “fool” a single static eye and ear into believing a framed representation is real. Sounds simple but it’s pretty hard, and is the basis for much of traditional photography and cinema. We can go from there to more complex representations, like fooling two static eyes and ears, then to multi-view representations, then to unframed (panoramic) representations, and then to the non-audio visual senses. At this point we’ve learned how to fool all our sensors but without any input from our effectors, so next is interactivity, and finally social and live. This organization is loosely based on earlier work supported by Apple Computer in the early 1990s. Apple published an illustrated version as a Tech Report in 1991, which, some would say, was the seed for QuickTimeVR.

2) We will do our homework to survey what’s already out there and put together a multi-platform collection of VR content.

We are setting up a “VR experiences” space with Vives (we have 8), Oculus, PlayStation VR, GearVRs, and Daydreams – all side by side – and students will co-curate the first wave of titles, from both popular commercial catalogs as well as more obscure and edgy material. Part of doing the homework will include seeking relevant and historical non VR / AR content.

3) We will produce a series of short, hopefully entertaining, “studies” illustrating various distinctions and ambiguities in VR / AR today.

For example, how important is stereo over mono 360, and where does volumetric fit in? Is 360 always necessary? How important is phase (binaural) for spatial audio? There are many, and our selection will be heavily informed by finding, experiencing, and sharing VR / AR content currently out there. These studies will be a 2.0 version of the VR Cinematography Studies for Google produced in 2015. Our joke was while everyone in VR wants to be a Lucas or Spielberg, we’re good being a Muybridge.

Oh, also, this class will be entirely public as we go! We welcome constructive feedback.