Pokemon Go brings all our dreams to [augmented] reality

Screenshot_2016-07-07-08-46-07_resizedPokemon Go has officially released in North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan and we’re already walking into walls hunting for those elusive pokemans!

The new app, available on both iPhone and Android, involves getting players to travel around the real world searching for and capturing wild pokemon, which appear on your phone screen while you view the scenery through its camera. This gives the effect of the pokemon actually appearing in the real world – which is something many fans (of all ages!) have dreamed about for the last 20 years since the franchise’s inception.

Pokemon Go is fascinating not only because of its wish-granting capabilities, but because of the technology behind it. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are systems that capture, store, check and display data related to the surface of the Earth. We’ve seen this on GPS software, where the program displays a map of your location, often with 3d attibutes. Ingress, a mobile game very similar to Pokemon Go, uses the same technology.

Everybody’s favorite pokemon, Zubat, was spotted near Pace this morning

GIS can even display the terrain of the location, so when you’re hunting Pokemon in a park the app will actually show that you’re in a grass area – which means grass and bug type pokemon, like Caterpie, Venonat, and Bellsprout will pop up on your map. Go near water and you might expect to see Seadra, Magikarp, and Starmie. This neatly mimics the experience of playing the game as pokemon can be found in their preferred habitats, bringing the augmented reality authenticity to an impressive level.

Students interested in learning more about GIS can take the elective course CIT 351 – Geographic Information Systems taught by Professor Dan Farkas. The class is a hands-on introduction to GIS that uses industry-leading software to enable students to build their own GIS models and applications.

Screenshot_2016-07-07-08-47-20_resizedScreenshot_2016-07-07-08-48-45Show us your pokemon! Let us know if you’ve spotted any in the Pace area (we’ll share!) and, most importantly, if you’re interested in a Seidenberg Pokemon League!

I caught that Krabby, by the way → → → → → →

NYVR Meetup co-organizer DJ Smith answers our questions about VR

DJ Smith

At the same New York Virtual Reality Meetup mentioned in the previous blog post, Seidenberg students Avery Leider and Harpreet Singh Wasan were able to interview a few of the other attendees and founders to pick their brains about the VR industry as it’s suddenly growing as software and hardware are becoming easier to access by the day. By attending Meetups in the NYC tech scene, Avery and Harpreet hope to gain substantial knowledge on the state of the industry as it’s expanding and also to experience the various developments that people are bringing to these Meetups, both hardware and software related.

In this next interview we hear from DJ Smith of Morristown, NJ, NYVR’s co-organizer since the beginning of 2014. Smith is also a member of the Washington DC VR Meetup, but between Meetups he works as an engineer, builder, artist, and entrepreneur. Here are his responses to our students’ queries:

Harpreet: From the time you started with Virtual Reality until now, what, in your opinion, is the most exciting development in VR?

Smith: Now, the Social VR Apps, obviously, because I just presented on it, that has really excited me for two reasons – one, the freedom to basically create the worlds, and then, two, to be able to share those worlds with other people and communicate with them directly. I think both of those things are wonderful aspects of VR Social Apps and I am anxious to see how far they will go.

H: Is there anything else that comes to your mind that is also about to take off?


S: Right behind Social VR Apps, I really like what people have been doing with the actual live video aspect of it. So, basically, to be able to film in 360 degree video or 180 degree 3-D video, and in being able to view an event in a headset that is around your entire body, you just get that sense of presence, and I think the future of media is going to be just that. It’s going to be an all-encompassing thing. So, I think Social VR apps and then the 360 degree and maybe 3D live video – however they will be incorporated into the public – those will be the two main focuses.

H: What is your advice to Pace University students who want to get into VR?  How should they go about getting into the industry?

S: Come to New York VR Meetups!

Avery: So, if Pace University students wanted to help you in your Virtual Meetup room, to add our Pace University assets to your VR world, what do you recommend we do?

S: Wow, if I could get a bunch of college kids to build my virtual room, that would be awesome! The VR Chat room that I created [for the Meetup], NYVR Room, is built in Unity. I’m a very basic developer without a lot of advanced knowledge. It’s relatively easy for a newcomer – just download Unity, start messing around, and reach out to me. If there are students who are willing to contribute, I’m happy to incorporate their stuff and give them small tasks. Or, better yet, go on VR Chat, build your own thing, that would work, too. And invite me, because I want to see it!

So there you have it. It doesn’t take solid groundwork of experience to get started in VR development. This is our challenge to other students at Seidenberg who have caught an interest in VR: start playing with it and share something at the next NYVR Meetup!

A chat with Virtual Reality Trailblazer, Eric Greenbaum

Eric Greenbaum Harpreet Wasan
Eric Greenbaum (L) and Harpreet Wasan (R)

Virtual Reality is riding on the latest boom in the technology sector, and one way Seidenberg is keeping up with the ever-growing community is through Meetups. These Meetup communities and events are an excellent resource for exchanging information, ideas, and joining forces with other trendsetters in the field. Just last week, Seidenberg CS graduate student Harpreet Wasan and CS PhD student Avery Leider attended the most recent New York Virtual Reality (NYVR) Meetup to interview some of the leaders there to see what’s new and improving in the VR scene.

One person Avery and Harpreet were eager to speak with was Eric Greenbaum, an original founder and organizer of the NYVR and NYVR Developers Group MeetUps. Greenbaum works as a patent attorney, entrepreneur, and start-up consultant, and has also been active as a ‘Virtual Reality Trailblazer‘ since seeing the 1992 movie Lawnmower Man, in which the main character becomes a genius through VR technology used to augment his intelligence. And although Lawnmower Man may not be the best advocate for convincing the world of the usefulness in VR technology — there is definitely an allure to VR’s range of possibilities! In fact, Greenbaum believes that with the introduction of the Oculus Rift, “VR is poised to take the tech world by storm.”

Harpreet and Greenbaum talked about the current expansion in the VR industry:

Harpreet: From the time you started with Virtual Reality, how far has VR come?

Greenbaum: The VR industry has grown a lot, since 2012 until now, from being essentially nonexistent to being one of the world’s most exciting technology platforms — kind of like the Internet. I think it is important to recognize that before the recent excitement, there were people working on industrial VR for the last 20 years. So there has been this whole movement, bubbling beneath the surface, of really dedicated scientists and engineers working on VR since the 90’s. It wasn’t until the cell phone industry drove down prices on screens and inertial measurement devices that enabled accessible VR for the masses. So, how has it changed? It changed from like 7 people in the grimiest co-working space in midtown to like 1500 people [in the NYVR MeetUp], and we’re packing out Microsoft on a monthly basis.

 H: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen in VR? 

G: The social VR is the most exciting; you saw some of it [at this MeetUp] and it is a little bit primitive, but it holds a promise to change the way we interact with each other. Imagine being able to sit in a virtual space with your friends from around the country or around the world and share and watch a movie or play chess or have that feeling of being together in a space. It’s really powerful and I think it’s going to change everything.

H: So, there are students at Pace University that are interested in getting into the VR industry – what advice can you give them to get started?

G: If you want to get into VR, the most important thing is to have an idea. What do you want to build? Before you start to think about what concrete skills you need to build it, spend some time thinking about what unique characteristics VR can bring to the table and how can I use that to do something amazing? Once you think about your idea, the tools that are available are really accessible. For example there is a program called Unity, which is a go-to tool to build a VR experience, and even if you have no programming experience at all – no gaming experience at all – if you sit down and spend a few hours with Unity you can make strides and build things. As someone who two years ago had zero experience, the experience of sitting down and building a space and then entering it in a virtual way, was one of the most transformative technology experiences I’ve ever had. If you haven’t done it, do it. Unity is free – there’s no reason to not do it.

twitter shot

For more information about the Virtual Reality scene, stay tuned for other interviews we’re conducting with various members in the field! You can also head over to Eric Greenbaum’s blog to see what VR topics he’s currently discussing. Lastly, don’t hesitate to get going on the Meetup trend. There are a bunch of events coming up in the city, so let us know on Twitter (@pace_seidenberg) when you’re going!