This mixed reality stargazing experience for Quest opens the windows into outer space.
When Facebook – now Meta – introduced its Passthrough API Experimental earlier this year, it opened the door for developers to harness the power of Quest’s Passthrough + technology to create immersive mixed reality experiences that mix the real world with the virtual.
This includes Stargazing, an amazing mixed reality experience that places retractable walls in different parts of your space in the real world that open up via simple voice commands so you can look into the cosmos and explore different star systems from your home.
Created by XR Developer Emanuel Tomozein as a post for Facebook XR Hackathon, Tomozei’s app shows how the Passthrough API Experimental and mixed reality can potentially be used as an educational or meditative tool, and how hand gestures and voice commands can play a greater role in the user experience.
In the video, which is one of those submission requirements for Hackathon, Tomozei is seen raising his hand to activate the listening menu. After speaking the words “open roof”, the ceiling in his home retreats, revealing the constellations above. He then moves to the nearest window of his home and says “open window”, after which a selected part of the wall slides down just in time to see several shooting stars fly by.
Along the wall, a virtual panel displays various information, from the time and date to the exact time the moon will set in Tomozei’s time zone. As he walks to his doorway, Tomozei can see a massive galaxy floating nearby. He can even lean out the door for a better view.
But it’s not just the visual. At one point in the video, Tomozei raises his hand and says “play music,” after which a soothing stargazing soundtrack begins to echo gently through space into space.
To bring this amazing mixed reality experience to life, Tomozei created a “sky ball” by generating a database of over 7,000 stars complete with their real positions and sizes. He also generated constellations and labels, so when you look up at the sky, you know exactly what you’re looking at. You can get a better idea of how Tomozei built his stargazing experience in his Hackathon video here at the 1:13 mark.
Currently, the experience does not adapt to your actual location or time of day, although Tomozei hopes to introduce this feature as part of a future update in addition to additional training elements.
The app has a short setup process that requires you to lay virtual walls and windows over your real environment. This is done in the headset using Passthrough mode. Once you have identified these “portals”, you are ready to start exploring the cosmos.
The Facebook XR Hackathon, which runs online from November 9-22, brought Tomozei and other contestants together to compete in three team-based product challenges: Group AR Effects, Hand and Body Tracking Performance AR Effects and Voice and Hand VR Experiences.
First place was awarded $ 55,000, followed by $ 40,000 for second place, $ 25,000 for third place and $ 10,000 for honorable mention with 22 prizes on all tracks.
In a Save your thread, Tomozei said that all the money won as part of the competition will go to the development of his stargazing prototype. He also expressed interest in working on an app for Facebook’s high-end Cambria XR headset, which will be available sometime next year.
You can learn more about Emanuel Tomozei and his Stargazing AR review prototype here. This includes links to his Github, LinkedIn, Twitter and personal portfolio.
To learn more about Facebook’s XR Hackathon or to register, click here.
Credit for feature image:Emanuel Tomozei