Developing a CSI VR Lab in Unreal* for Windows* Store

Do you know about VRMonkey's Forensic VR Lab? If you don't you should take a look on these previous posts:

1 - Starting a revolution using edge tech in education! 

2 - Training to Become a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) in VR? 

Now I believe you are ready to understand better what we have been doing! Curious about the progress we made this week?



In the further course of our journey into this amazing experience of developing a ground-breaking VR product for education, we want to share some of the equipment that is making that possible!

First, we want to show you the amazing Hades Canyon NUC!!! Such an amazing small computer with a lot of horsepower hidden under that Skull shaped face.

We got an awesome previous experience with it at GDC 2018 where it was powering the Intel Intel Innovators Booth:

After that we also have the Wacom* Intuos Pro Paper, a tablet that is clear in the Professional Degree, with a much better sensibility than the most simpler Wacom tablets. We just loved, and for me that am not used to write on Digital tablets, but love to sketch on paper is even more impressive.

And to finish we are using the HP* Windows Mixed Reality headset, which I must say is one of the best-looking VR HMD available right now, simple and elegant. Besides that, having the perks of the Inside-out tracking we have just ONE cable to connect our VR rig, that make things much simpler to setup. At one hand, it needs Bluetooth to connect the motion controllers, but gladly the Hades Canyon has got us covered!

This is just a part of all of the assets that we use here in the company that, together with the Intel technology, are making the development of this project possible.

 

One of the objectives of this challenge is to have a commercial VR application that can be distributed through the Window Store, which is a great idea since it gets a minor slice (20%) compared to other Digital Stores like Apple Store, Google Play or even Steam.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t come without some drawbacks, the Windows* Store does not allow to publish executables files (.exe) like many of Win32 applications. Instead, you must use the UWP which provides a safer environment for applications, but the caveat is that we lose access to certain common APIs used by game Engines such as Unreal Engine*. Meaning that by default the Unreal Engine is unable to publish games for the Windows Store.

Gladly, the Unreal Engine is not only free for use, but it is also Open Sourced, and the team from Microsoft created a Fork rom the Unreal Engine original repository which enables us to create packages that can be published on the Windows Store. In order to be able to use this version of the Engine you should ask for access to Epic Games over here and then clone this address. Quick note, if you have not yet installed a Git system on your computer, I recommend you to get TortoiseGit, a very straight forward git application for Windows.

After the cloning is done, you must run the Setup.bat file, which will download a set of dependencies needed to build the Unreal Engine source code. After this long process of more than 3 Gigabytes, we can open the GenerateProjectsFiles.bat, which will be fast, and open the Visual Studio project and build it. If you face any problem you can always look for support on the Forums Thread of this Fork.

Now, regarding the development of our experience during this week, we had a meeting with our professor consultants where we discussed teaching strategies and tips to engage students in this CSI VR experience. We talked about ways of providing clarification of science content and forensic science procedures while still allowing the students to explore and make mistakes. We have also discussed some ideas on how to help stimulate the students and evaluate their work.

On the development side we’ve worked on new interactions to be used in the Crime-Scene Investigation and Evidence Collection. For example, using and manipulating forensic equipment such as protection goggles, numbered evidence markers and a camera used to photograph the crime scene.

Thanks for watching, see you next week!

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