XR is a medium where the experience of the user is presented as an “extended reality” from their point-of-view. This is a unique perspective in which a VR video experience can convey empathy and presence in a powerful, immersive way that has never been possible with traditional forms of narrative film/video.
One of the clearest opportunities for innovation in the tropes and syntax used in VR video storytelling is to incorporate “hotspots”, a catch-all term that signals “a point around user interactions can be triggered”. A VR hotspot might be a icon or graphic in the scene that suggests UI (user-interface) elements that can be interacted with, or even an invisible to the viewer area that when gazed upon or approached will activate new content.
Let’s consider some of the user-interaction capabilities of VR “hotspots”, and how they might be built during the editing and crafting of the experience.LEARN MORE ABOUT SPIN STUDIO
Pixvana’s SPIN Studio includes a suite of story-creation tools that allow adding interactivity throughout a VR video experience. Key among these is the ability to create and place “hotspots” throughout the experience. Hotspots can be visual icons laid out spatially in a scene: you can change the size, position, and 3d depth–to create a dimensional sense of placement within a 3d scene. Hotspots can also be tied to the viewers gaze-direction/placement, and make items appear, or trigger changes in the scene or sequence and timing of the videos in the experience.
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A powerful attribute of interactive hotspots in VR is that they promote engagement. Nowhere is this better put to use than in the classroom. Take an example of a geology course. The teacher brings a set of VR headsets to class, each with an experience set in a geologically rich landscape. With VR hotspots placed around the topography, students can gaze at different parts of a landscape. Whenever they gaze at a rock a highlight is triggered. Noteworthy features in the form a text box pop up next to the rock. Certain rocks can even have clickable hyperports that transport the student into another part of the landscape where there get a different perspective of the outcrop. This angle could reveal another side of the rock which tells a different story — maybe it’s one about metamorphosis rather than a sedimentary journey. The possibilities go on.
As the variety of hotspots expands to include polls, fill-in-the-blank, and feedback forms, the depth of engagement only increases. Student’s mental faculties are engaged with assorted formats of testing, quizzing, and creation. But what XR does fundamentally differently is to also employ the student’s physical faculties — hands, eyes, and ears — to learn in a 3D environment. Why should students only learn about rocks from a static piece of paper when rocks in real life are three dimensional and highly interactive? The bottom line is: how students learn about objects in the classroom affects how they interact with those objects in the real world. By using hotspots in a 3D environment, students will engage with the real world as it were 3D too.
While inside an XR experience it is natural to want to move around. Interactive hotspots come in handy here to extend the movement through a space, be it a home for sale, a college campus, or a travel destination. In home real estate it’s important to understand that home are much more than a static collection of rooms. Homes are always in motion. Shy of recreating the entire house in a 3D computer model, VR hotspots are the ideal way to demonstrate the dynamics of a house.
A realtor could provide potential homeowner with a VR experience, with a walkthrough every room in the building. In the kitchen, for example, the viewer can look around at the appliances and see the specs of the refrigerator or stove. A hotspot placed by the clock in the room could change the time of day, allowing the viewer to experience different lighting conditions. Another hotpot could be triggered to fill the room with guests to simulate a big house party. Other triggers can toggle doors opened and closed, blinds parted or together, fireplace on or off — all iterations to run through each dynamic movement of the home.
The resulting feeling from these sorts of VR hotspots is not that of a contrived showcase one might get from a quick overview of a site. Instead it feels more intimate and authentic, details are discovered by the viewer, and at its most effective it leaves a more meaningful imprint on the memory of the potential homeowner.
One aspect of HR training is instilling in the new employee the proper etiquette of the workplace. An effective way of doing this is through scenario training. By giving the new employee a safe, but experientially real, environment they can test their decision making in real time. VR hotspots can be used in an interactive 360 scenario to guide scenarios based on the gaze direction of the viewer. For instance, say the trainee is in a VR simulation for diversity and inclusion training. They are placed in the midst of a workplace aggression. The company wants to train their employees to engage with the aggressions in person and in the moment. With VR hotspots the gaze direction of the trainee can be detected. If they look away from the aggression in the workplace and try to ignore it, the hotspot can notify the viewer to look towards the event, ultimately encouraging positive engagement.
Another use of VR hotspots in HR training are with hyperports. A hyperport allows the employee to be teleported other scenarios entirely, allowing for branching narratives and reactive storytelling. It empowers the trainee to disrupt a sequences of events, thus imbuing in them a sense of responsibility. Hyperports can be laid out in front of the trainee in the middle of a scenario. Each hyperoprt represents a different decision. In our example of the diversity and inclusion training, if the employee selects the hyperport to an undesired decision of no positive engagement, then they are teleported into a scenes which describes to them the preferred behavior. This sort of real-time training and decision making is highly effective and only possible with VR hotspots.