hackers congress 2017

#HCPP is organized by czech crypto hub Paralelni Polis and visited by global crypto leaders and enthusiast from all around the world.

Hackers, crypto-anarchy, digital currencies, biohacking… of course we couldn’t miss such event!

Together with Czech Association of VR/AR we decided to show Virtual Reality to visitors. During 3 days, more than 100 people went into our virtual world, most of them for the first time. We showed them our demo, Virtual Liberland and some SteamVR environments.

Here are some of their reactions:

Martinus Urza (Cryptoanarchist – Paralelni Polis):
I extremely enjoyed the experience. Surprising, I did not expect this to tech to be that immersive already. After some time it feels very real.

Tereza Sladkovská (Paralelni Polis):
It was awesome. For the first time in my life I went to space. My favorite VR experience was definitely walking on Mars.

Zdeňka Staňková (svobodauceni.cz)
I think that in few years the graphics will be so real, some people will not want to quit VR. As Arto Bendiken said: “When VR porn hits the mainstream it will be one of the largest  evolutionary selection events in human history.” I personally see huge potential of VR in other fields – like education. Learning by doing is the best way of learning.

Karel Fillner (Cryptocurrency evangelist)
VR skiing – extremely immersive experience. Only closing my eyes during huge jump off the cliff saved me. I felt I am very close to just falling to the ground (I literally almost fell). VR comes much closer to real experience that I would be willing to admit.

Hacker congress was packed with smart and interesting people. We are glad to be part of it and show them what VR can do.

Honza interviewed by Forbes!

Honza got some media attention a while back. He was interviewed by Forbes Czech. We cannot let this kind of opportunity for bragging to slip away, so we decided to translate it in English and publish it here.

1) From your point of view what is or how looks like the future with VR?

Today we see only very clumsy baseline of VR, on which we can develop. Most probably we will use it in direct connection with AR, as adoption rate will increase. I think it is just a natural progress of technology, affecting many areas education, communication…

We will see technologies interconnecting together: internet, VR, AR, blockchain (decentralised networks, on which cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are running), IoT vÏcÌ, and big data, AI. I like to call this general connection of technologies “new reality”. And I believe that VR can be ideal environment which will help people discover better ways how to create, cooperate and interact with technology, as well as have fun, learn and connect.

2) Could virtual reality be better than reality one day? When? Under what conditions?

I wouldn’t say it will be “better”. However I believe, and maybe I am a little bit worried,· that for some people it indeed it may be more appealing. Why am I worried? Just look at differences between last couple of generations. Tech, especially communication channels and devices are widening that gap even further. From first telegraph, telephone call, TV to online chat rooms and social media not much time had past. We have so many new ways of interaction, yet it seems like we understand each other less and less. Such fast progress is good news for futurists and geeks, but might not be such a good news for humanity. But maybe, just maybe, VR can bring humanity closer together in more direct sense.

Honza – true visionary. Do you see the future yet?

3) What is your favourite lifehack linked to VR?

I am fascinated by VR for many years, from the very first sci-fi stories I read. From the very start, I imagined that VR+AR+AI is the killer app of technology. It can help us process and visualise unimaginable quatities of information in new ways, interacting with other people. Being able to easily and playfully work with big data and interact with AI (like neural network) directly in the machine – that is the kind of “lifehack” we are yet to invent, but it is already my favorite.

Another “lifehack” in development: Education. I’d love to see students in VR – learning and understanding complex subjects easily. I’d love to see scientists on VR conferences, debating and experimenting, visualising data, predicting trends and simulating phenomenons.

This is why we are developing octopus engine. A tool, which will make it happen. Some of it’s features we cannot fully imagine yet, but we will get there. This tool will be “my favourite lifehack”.

Do you think Honza is right? Will his prophecy be fulfilled? Stay tuned 🙂

czech VR fest (part 2)

It is already 2 months since we attended the very first Czech VR Fest (part 1)

There we met all of the high-profile guests and leading brands from the VR/AR industry.

These are the speakers we liked the most:

Jan Horsky – Jan is VR pioneer, developer, journalist, blogger and gamer. He spoke about challenges of designing hardware and optics for VR. His talk went into great technical detail and was the most informative when it comes to hard facts.

Vojta Rocek – As a co-founder of business intelligence startup Stories, Jan introduced his vision about using VR for working with complex data structures. He also put great emphasis on the need of making VR more accessible to non-technical Executives, since these are the ones making decisions. We are planning to cooperate with Stories on their VR mission.

Vit Jedlicka – president of Liberland officially introduced Virtual Liberland .

Amir Ebrahimi – Principal Software Engineer in Unity, he takes care of VR development. Unity is great platform and we were amazed how quickly they are improving their VR support.

Jaroslav Stehlik – Using drones and photogrammetry, he is putting real castle ruins and other historical places in VR. We tried his VR game from Okoř Castle, finding hidden mysteries. His project has a name Bohemia VR.

We also got a chance to present our own ideas during a short speech, we will introduce in part 3.

Next year there will be even more progress in VR space and we at octopus engine will be significant contributors.

data in virtual reality (part 2)

This is second part of our VR data post. Here is the first part.
We are still looking for new ways to visualise and work with data in VR. Small or big. We believe we are on to something with VR, but we can’t verbalise it yet.
So far, even the most complex data are restrained to 2D charts, or 3D visualisations on your screen. VR space provides much bigger scale, and new dimension. But where to start?
Let’s say we have price chart of Bitcoin. We have information like time scale, highest price, lowest price, open and close price, during given time period.
2D price visualisation – candlestick chart (by tradimo.com)
How can we put this piece of information to VR space to be more easily understood by human observer? How can we utilise the added space and dimensions so it is not too overwhelming for human brain? Can we add more information to one data object, using 3rd and 4th dimension?
We have to remember: data are only as useful, as the impact they have on our decisions. So there is no need for irrelevant data pukes (term coined by Avinash Kaushik  ).
Here are two examples of inspirative data visualisations in VR:
Common “real world” data tools in VR by Nirvaniq Labs:

Data clusters crunched by Machine Learning algos by Project NEO:

VR space and it’s possibilities are still mostly terra nova – lots of unknown opportunities, but also dead-ends. We embark on a mission to discover this New World. And data visualisations are on the front lines.

Do you have an idea, how to put data into VR?

Let us know 

data in virtual reality (part 1)

Data are hot goods – everyone wants more of them. We want to visualise and analyse them, the more the better. And why do we need it? To make better decisions.

Our data are always only as good as our ability to make better decision thanks to them. And we believe the visualisation is the key to that.

Right now we are limited to process the data in spreadsheets, more or less complicated dashboards or using mostly 2D charts and lines. Or we can give it to a team of analysts or machine learning algorithm to crunch it for us. But there may be another way.

What if we could see data and interact with them in new way? Imagine that instead of messing around with spreadsheets, you have all the data all around you. Imagine you can move them around, connect them, make them alive in real time using just your hands… now it is possible, thanks to VR.

We in octopus engine are going to make that happen. It’s only the beginning. Frankly, we are not sure yet what the best approach is. But we are determined to figure it out. We are determined to try a lot of crazy stuff, find all the dead ends and have fun along the way.

Our vision is to create data processing tool in VR. It will be intuitive to use for analysts, managers, business owners, engineers and other professionals. It will help you make faster and better decisions and get deeper understanding of data.

– team octopus engine –

“In God we trust. All others bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming

(part 2)

simple bitcoin terminal

Lately we were focusing mostly on our endeavours in VR. But our vision is much broader  and extends into the physical world as well.

We are particularly excited about Bitcoin. There is  something very compelling about a digital currency, fully independent from whims of nation states and central banks.

But today, we are not going to discuss cryptocurrency. If you want to learn more, watch some Andreas Antonopoulos vids.

Today we are just bragging about our Simple Bitcoin Terminal which is a payment machine allowing stores and other brick and mortar businesses to receive payments in Bitcoins (and other cryptocurrencies) quickly and easily.

First Bitcon payment only cafe

Honza engineered a prototype one year ago, and now he is giving it more polish. Last weekend we presented it to crypto-fans during  yearly crypto flea market in Paralelni polis – Prague.

Both machines are connected to the internet and update current btc exchange rate

Now, we want to advance new technologies. So we do not aim to be bogged down by manufacturing and selling this little machine commercially.

Honza introducing his prototype

However, if you are an entrepreneur, manufacturer or electronics seller and would like to introduce Simple Bitcoin Terminal to market, feel free to contact us.

– team octopus engine –

PS: If you like our work, you can reward us with a small Bitcoin donation  11r118H2Qv4oHfjFuJnuU8GZHGNqwEH9e

who needs new reality most?

Recently we asked ourselves a question.

Who would benefit from virtual reality most?

Who is in the direst need to escape boundaries of physical reality?

Is it gamer who wants better gaming experience? Or professional who demands better visualisation for his project? Film maker, making more immersive experience?

We come up with a different answer. Those who need to escape our reality the most are the ones who are the most challenged by it – disabled people or too old and weak to go out and enjoy life to the fullest.

There is a room for many more VR applications, helping those in need. There are experiments, suggesting that VR simulations help with pain relief, psychotherapy , rehab exercises or even a next generation of social connection.

That’s why we are creating New Reality platform with these people in mind. It will empower them, allow them to experience and even control (via IoT). In our New Reality there will be no barriers…

By helping others, you will learn how to help yourselves. -Aung San Suu Kyi

– team octopus engine –


why we use Unity

When Honza started octopusengine, he was thinking about the universal platform to use for VR. One of the options was to create it from scratch.

But sometimes it’s better to focus on important things and outsource the rest to existing solutions.

And because games are the frontier of Virtual Reality, there were two game engines which supported HTC Vive integration – famous Unreal engine, and Unity 3D editor.

From these two, Unity seems to be more useful with comprehensive tutorials and great community. Also it is more versatile, as opposed to Unreal, which is focused mostly on games.

Our VR lab, running on Unity

Right now Unity fits our needs pretty well. Although in the future, we will create our own engine which will support all media.

By the way, if you want to try Unity for yourself, here is a little guide how to start for free:

  1. Install Unity Personal
  2. Get to know Unity Editor basics (tutorials are helpful).For Czech and Slovak speakers join our FB group for Unity
  3. Play around. Learn to use Hierarchy, Asset, Inspector. Create your first Scene, Game and 3D Object. Use some Component and create Material. Adjust position and rotation of Main Camera.
  4. If you are programmer, see our github and learn how to use scripts in Unity.
  5. Test our objZero – add it into a scene and move it around with arrow keys.
  6. Ready for VR? If you have HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headset use VRTK library .
  7. Welcome to the Matrix Neo. Contact us if you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole.

We are sure you will have the basics laid down pretty quickly if you give it a try. Just take a look what our project manager Maťo created after only a couple of hours working in Unity.

Where there is unity there is always victory.  – Publilius Syrus

– team octopus engine –

we are community

You probably know what we are creating, but you may wonder what octopus engine actually is.

OE is not a company (not yet) and it is not a pure hobby either. Right now we describe OE as community.  Community of passionate people from various backgrounds, who want to create awesome things with new technology.

Explaining our vision

That’s why we connect with others in VR meetups and hackathons, discussing new tech, sharing ideas, creating together. Our first meetup happened in PaperHub Coworking space visited by IT geeks, cryptocurrency fans and tech cyborgs. By the way, it’s the same place Honza first met Maťo and challenged him to play one match of Go. OE team emerged from that encounter.

At that time, our vision was still hard around the edges and not easy to explain. But we still found guys wanting to get involved with the idea.

Creative graphic designer, who created this scary Sea Devil 3D model, which we put into VR.

Look at those details!

Or young Internet of Things enthusiast who would like to help us with the idea of connecting VR and IoT devices.

There are many really exceptional people we are meeting on our journey. We will mention some of them in our blog so stay tuned.

OE is based in Prague, but we aim to bring together enthusiasts worldwide.

Want to be part of our movement?

Contact us!

You are the average of 5 people you hang around with the most. – Jim Rohn

– team octopus engine –


fun in VR – gauss distribution

We work hard on our New Reality project. But sometimes it doesn’t hurt to take a break and just have fun…like with this little demonstration of normal Gauss distribution. You may find it useful if you are teaching math or just want to show someone how it works.

You don’t even need one line of code, just put together this simple scene in Unity3D:

  1. Put pegs on the slope floor (ctrl+C) and prepare several compartments.
  2. Prepare path for balls.
  3. Generate ball objects.
  4. Add laws of physics for your balls (ball is in the gravitational field and has weight…).
  5. Send them down one by one. Balls are rolling around and end up in the compartments as they would in the real world.
  6. Watch balls being distributed into well-known Gauss Curve. Balls are currently too slippy and jumpy. For smoother outcome, we need to optimise elasticity and friction.

There are many concepts you can easily simulate in VR, we can’t wait to show you our next idea!

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding. – Leonardo da Vinci
– team octopus engine –