This morning, I visited the home of Vincent van Gogh. His blue-walled bedroom was so well-kept that I almost believed he would return any minute and demand to know who I was and what I was doing in his house. Sunlight streamed through the open window, warming the wooden floorboards and illuminating the bright red bedspread, the paintings on the walls, and the washstand with its ceramic vessels. Through the window, I could see the lush green foliage of Place Lamartine’s public gardens. But how is this possible? The building no longer exists; it was damaged in an air raid and subsequently demolished. It must be a dream, right?
No, it’s not a dream – it’s virtual reality. Sketchfab has introduced a new virtual reality button that allows visitors to see its huge library of 3D models in a new way. Viewers can already examine objects, or entire scenes, from every angle by navigating with a mouse, but now they can actually go “inside” the scene and walk around with just the click of a button.
“This is really awesome, but when you think about it it is also very natural,” Sketchfab states. “VR is getting so much attention these days simply because we live in a 3D world, and it’s a natural evolution to be able to experience things virtually the way we already experience real life. Today, the technology is finally getting closer to living up to that hope.”
Of course, to experience a 3D model in virtual reality, you also need a virtual reality headset, and Sketchfab is working quickly to make the new application compatible with all major headsets. Currently, it can be used with Google Cardboard, and it will soon be compatible with Oculus devices. According to Sketchfab, the application isn’t perfected yet; they’re still working to make the navigation smoother as well as improving the content categories and browsing experience.
For virtual reality fans, this is great news. I can imagine spending hours wandering around inside 3D forests, asteroid fields, and castles. But the technology can be used for so much more than recreation. Only a few weeks ago, doctors used Sketchfab’s virtual reality setting with Google Cardboard to save the life of a baby with rare birth defects. We’ve written many stories about the lifesaving medical applications of 3D printing, but virtual reality is starting to catch up as one of the most important technologies to impact medicine.
But for all of its lifesaving potential, you can’t deny that virtual reality is just a lot of fun, and Sketchfab is working to make it as accessible as possible.
“We have two goals,” the company continues. “One is to provide the easiest way for anyone making 3D content to publish it in VR; the second is to provide a huge interactive library of content for all the VR headset owners out there to explore.”
Discuss this latest addition to Sketchfab in the Sketchfab VR forum thread on 3DPB.com.