Hypatia - Building a VR Smart Phone

So, earlier this week I saw something that reminded me of a project I have been working on but not talking much about. Now, I can show you a brief demo of a something my team and I have been working on! Everything is still in very early development, but here we go.


Shown: A demo of a coworker and I testing out a smart phone operated in virtual reality on my machine. Forgive our zaniness.
The phone currently is able to:
Make and track text messages handled by our communication server and able to communicate with a windows client as well as its UE4 smart phone counterpart.
Keep track of friends lists allowing for calling, private messaging and group forming.
Make calls to and receive calls from other players on our servers.
Take photos (and selfies!) in game via point and shoot, and save them to your machine for viewing later.
Act as a flashlight
Transform into a virtual book reader

We are always thinking about future functionality, and would love to hear some suggestions from the community! Here are a few things we are working on at the moment.
In game GPS
Voice commands / speech recognition
Web browsing
Real / Game time & weather display
Game to real world phone inter-functionality, answer your phone and emails in game!

This has taken several engine-level modifications to both the Online Subsystem voice, allowing for attenuated in game voice components, as well as modifications to 3D Widgets so that they can accept custom cursor input in Virtual Reality. The important thing to note is that UE4 is capable of all of this! Huzzah!

Cool story, we actually had one of our guys using an arcade stick to control the phone!
Anyway, let me know what you guys think!

Cool stuff, a lot of different directions you can take this feature alone.

A thought hit me, about virtual object construction as a concept, as you give objects interactivity you expect out of real objects and even interactivity that cannot exist in the real world, the ‘virtual’ aspect disappears and you treat it as a real thing. This could be a potent UI, and re-usable virtual functional objects could become a big thing in VR; maybe even an industry itself, formed around building virtual tools usable in different contexts/worlds/apps. E.g. have that phone available from any game you have or enhance that new VR productivity app with a tool you’ve become accustomed to.

For any of that to work though object interactivity and it’s presentation would have to be encapsulated into apis future vr apps would adopt to allow such extensibility; plugins for virtual tools.

Too true, there may be a new type of gatekeeper in town soon.

Now, for more work! Here is our current reader interface, which allows you to read books in UE4! The current VR implementation needs some work, as text in UE4VR is well, truly terrible. I am sure that soon our friends at Epic will take an eye to that though. Have a look.