The team at #include in Brisbane, Australia, created Viewr (which the company spells ViewR) for VR developers to integrate this capability into their games, making the VR experiences more social and shareable.
Usually, there’s no way for a bystander to see what you see while wearing a VR headset. Now Viewr is creating a window into that VR world so a friend can observe what is happening.
Viewr creates a position-tracked streaming spectator experience, and it is available as a Unity software development kit (SDK) with a simple applications programming interface (API) that developers can include for free in their VR games.
In addition, gamers can run an installer to add Viewr to an existing game. #Include has modded Viewr into Superhot VR, Beatsaber and Budget Cuts — three of the most popular VR games.
“Virtual reality is a really exciting and fun experience, but it is extremely difficult to share what is happening inside the VR headset in a meaningful way,” said Chang-Yi Yao, CEO of #include, in a statement. “Seeing what the player is seeing through a computer screen or TV does not give you the spatial information required for the full picture that an observer needs to fully appreciate VR. With Viewr, VR games can now be something that more than what one person can experience easily — all without the additional expensive, complicated set-up. You just connect to your computer through the app and use your phone as a camera to see what your friend is doing in VR.”
Viewr allows you to see the VR world from a spectator’s perspective using a phone or other mobile device. It is not a headset view, but rather a separate one completely, like a camera or a portal that a spectator can hold up to watch what is going on in the VR space.
This allows your non-game playing companion to get a sense of size, scale, and position of things in the virtual world and comprehend where it is, making for a powerful shared experience.
“We want Viewr to be everyone’s pocket portal into virtual reality; the instant interface between you and the virtual world,” said Yao. “As we grow, we see Viewr being an excellent way to incorporate VR into business use cases since your phone does not host the virtual world, the computer does, and it works beautifully even if the device is fairly limited. The potential for this new technology is incredibly exciting.”
How Viewr works
Viewr has two parts which talk to each other: a mobile Viewer; and a PC host that runs in the VR game. The host PC streams a view of the virtual world based on the position of the mobile device, and the mobile app displays it.
With a tracker, Viewr can operate on low-end devices because it is streaming the game from the host something not guaranteed for other systems which create mobile versions of the host game for spectating. It is a single application which can interface with multiple programs, making it the one-stop app for seeing into VR.
Viewr is available today for everyone as a mod for games written in Unity Engine. Ultimately the solution will be built into games using Viewr’s SDK, enabling spectating out of the box. Viewr’s API also allows for touch and sensor input from the device, enabling interactivity between the spectators and the player for asymmetric gameplay should the developers choose to support it.
#include has two employees, and it was founded in June 2018 with $100,000 in Australian dollars. Rivals include Vreal (where you spectate others using your own VR headset, or by projecting a camera to 2D videos) and Blueprint Reality’s MixCast. All are different variations on a theme.