Even though the Lab has – at least for the foreseeable future – put work on a VR headset compatible version of the viewer off to one side, interest in seeing Second Life from the “inside”, as a fully immersive VR experience remains high, and Alina has sought to rise to the challenge with Lumiya.
There are obviously a couple of caveats to using the application in VR mode:
- You really need a suitable headset
- You need a device with Andorid 6.0+ Marshmallow installed
I have Android 6, but I don’t have any form of headset, Cardboard or otherwise, that I can use with my device – which happens to be a Nexus 7 2013 HD Tablet – a little clunky for any headset device, although there are some out there. Nevertheless, I gave the new capability a go as best I could.
To enter VR mode on a suitable device, simply log-in to Second Life on Lumiya, and then go to the 3D view (Menu icon, top left > 3D view).
Once the view has loaded, tap the Action menu icon (top right) and select Virtual Reality Mode. The first time you do this, you will be prompted whether you want Lumiya to handle speech-to-text conversion for you to allow you to “converse” in-world, via the “microphone” button. You can deny this if you wish, but it will leave you with no means to converse.
Whether you Allow or Deny the speech-to-text conversion, Lumiya will switch output to a stereoscopic format, suitable for use with Cardboard devices and the likes of the Samsung Gear VR. Three buttons are projected into the field-of-view:
- Microphone – for enabling speech-to-text translation
- Finger – for touching things
- Chat bubble for text-mode chat.
Any of the three can be activated by staring at the required button – it should be highlighted when your stare is registered – then pressing the Cardboard device flap (or button / magnet actuator in the case of a Cardboard V1 device). If you’re trying Lumiya in VR mode without a headset, you can try staring at the button and touching the top of the screen between the left and right view – how successful you might be is debatable, and dependent upon on a number of factor (ambience background light, etc).
Movement is achieved by tapping and holding the same area of the device (or screen, if not using a device) while not looking at any of the buttons. You will then move in the direction yo are looking. Release the device / screen to stop.
To exit VR mode, manually tap the X icon top left of the screen. The gear icon, top right can be manually used to access the Google Cardboard application for calibrating your headset device, if required (and if installed on your device).
The 3.2 release also includes a bug fix to prevent a black screen in the 3D world view when anti-aliasing is enabled.
As I am without a suitable headset kit / device, I was unsuccessful trying to test the button functionality, but the walking certainly worked for me without a hitch. Adding VR to Lumiya might seem to some a bit of a niche thing, but that doesn’t stop it from being a fun addition. It certainly further demonstrates what can be achieved with the application, and kudos (again) to Alina for her work.