19 August 2016

Fieldscapes Editor - Simple Timer Tutorial Video

This week's Fieldscapes tutorial shows you how to set-up and use timers in Fieldscapes. Timers would be typically used:

  • To limit how long a student can spend on a task.
  • To provide hints part way through a task if not yet completed

You can use timers in conjunction with variables and rules, so that different messages can be given by the timer based on how far through a task the student is, or a task could finish either when all of a set of locations have been visited (controlled by variables) or when they run out of time (controlled by the timer).

Check out the Timer entry on the wiki for more information.

Note the tutorial is set in Oaker Wood. This is somewhere on the English/Welsh borders. Rather than using a third party height map to create the landscape we used Paint to "colour in" the contour lines of a map in deepening shades of grey, and then imported this as a height map into Unity3D. We then used Unity's terrain smoothing tool to remove the "stepped" heights in the areas we were going to use, and then added some Unity trees and grass, and also a few boxes to show the village centres. As ever more time could be spent but it shows how you can quickly create a landscape using very basic tools - and at no cost (although watch the OS "derivative works" licence!).

18 August 2016

An Introduction to Datascape slidedeck

This slide-deck provides a useful introduction to 3D data visualisation and Datascape. It covers the main controls for Datascapes and provides examples of some of the main visualisation types that can be created with it.

Datascape Introduction from Daden Limited

And don't forget that you can download a FREE 30 Day Trial copy of Datascape, so as to give it a try yourself.

12 August 2016

Datascape 2.0 - The Basic Worklflow

In this post we'll show you the basic workflow in Datascape so that you can get a good idea of how it works.

1. Choose a Workspace

The workspace defines the backdrop and axes. As well as standard XYZ axes you can also have a world map (or in fact a panel with any texture on it), or a dynamic Open Street Map pan which you can pan and zoom to anywhere in the world. There is also a 3D globe, and again you can change the texture on that (Mars anyone?).

2. Import Data

You can import directly from Excel or CSV files. YOu can also use the SQL readers to hook directly into a SQL database. Hadoop, JSON etc coming soon. You can preview your data, optionally set field types, and Datascape warns you of any errors or gaps in the data as you import. All we ask is that there is one line of data for each point you want to plot on screen.

3. Choose a Mapping Template

Datascape comes with a set of mapping templates for the most common chart styles - including geospatial (height=altitude, or other value), geotime (height = time), spherical and cylindrical (to save you the maths!). Or you can choose Manual Mapping and roll-your-own.

4. Customise the Mapping

This panel is the absolute heart of Datascape. Here you specify how each attribute of the plotted point is defined, in terms of either fixed values (eg "red"), or fields form the data. You can use standard SQL functions, and combine fields in quite complicated ways to define each attribute - but often you'll just go click-click-click to assign individual fields to individual attributes. You can also use Translation Tables to convert numbers or text to colours and shapes.

5. Visualise, Explore and Iterate

Then click on Plot! You can then fly around the space, viewing the data from any angle, inside and out. The best bet is to get something basic plotted first (even in 2D, set Y=0), and then add Y, colour, shape etc to enrich the visualisation and get it to start telling you what is going on in the data. You can change the axes scales if you need to spread the data out more, and use a search box or dynamic "scrubbing" filter to pull out subsets of the data. You can hover over a point to read its hover text, click on it to see all the data fields for that record, and if you've defined one in the mapping even click through to a URL in your web browser to examine a related web page (eg an entry in a star catalogue).
And that's the basic process. Datascape comes with several demo workspaces that you can play around with to see how the mappings work before you import the first of your own data.
Happy plotting!

11 August 2016

Aug 16 Newsletter: Datascape 2 released and Fieldscapes update

In this latest issue of the Daden Newsletter we are proud to announce:

We also have:

  • The release on Apple App Store of our iCentrumVR app, an example of how VR can be used to explore locations for real estate, lettings, education, training, or heritage goals
  • A look at the Fieldscapes Editor - coding free creation of 3D immersive learning experiences for PC/MAC, tablets or VR. And news of the forthcoming Fieldscapes Beta.

Read it now!

VR in Education: Moving the Classroom to Mars (and other field trips)!

Bookings are now open for David's talk at the on-line VR/AR Summit on 13th Sept. David will talk in general about the potential benefits, opportunities and challenges of VR in education - and also provide a high level overview of Fieldscapes and how its easy authoring system will open up VR educational content generation to a wider audience.

Follow the link below to register.

10 August 2016

Datascape V2.0 is Released!

After almost 2 years of work, some of it funded through an InnovateUK project with partner IGI, we have today released Datascape 2.0 into the wild.

Building on our experience with Datascape 1 (which was written in Unity) Datascape 2 is a completely re-written application which provides the same overall experience and capability as Datascape 1 but with far higher usability and performance. Datascape 2 (known as Datascape2XL while in development) is written in C# and DirectX, and is currently only available on Windows.
By using native Windows tools we’ve been able to create an application which looks and behaves far more like the sort of business apps that people are used to. You can import data directly from Excel spreadsheets and CSV files (or link it to a database), and use drag-and-drop to assign fields to parameters in the mapping screen. A simple tree view gives you immediate access to all the components of the visualisation, including the axes and graphical background.

Datascape2 also has power. Depending on your PC configuration you can visualise and interact with over 15 million data points (we’re managing over 2 million just on a laptop!). We already have a Hadoop interface under test, and V1.1 (due Sep 16) will also add Virtual Reality support for Oculus Rift.

Datascape provides a range of 3D objects to use as markers, including common objects such as man, woman, car, ship, plane etc. You can also import your own 2D images to use on the panel axes, and link points out to URLs which can be viewed in your browser.

You can download the Trial version of Datascape 2.0 for FREE today. After 30 days the trial version reverts to 10,000 point limited Community Version, but of course we’d like you to upgrade to one of our Solo or Commercial licences – which start from just UKP49+VAT!

We'll be publishing weekly visualisations onto the blog, and tutorial videos, so that you can get an idea of the wide variety of visualisations which Datascape can create.

We already have a good set of video tutorials on YouTube and Vimeo, and a well developed Datascape Wiki, but if you need any more help just post on our Forums or email us at datascape at daden.co.uk.

8 August 2016

VR in Learning and Development

We've just written a 2 part blog post for the world of Learning Conference blog trying to demystify and de-hype VR in Learning and Development. You can read the blog post here.

Also of interest is this recent survey by Kallidus on the attitudes of L&D professionals to VR:

91pc of L&D professionals plan to implement virtual reality (VR) in their learning organisation, with over a third planning to use VR over the next three years.

95pc of 200 L&D professionals said they see VR as being useful for enhancing training, with 81pc thinking it has 'real potential' for learning.

A further 11% dubbed VR as the 'next big thing', and just eight per cent feel VR is 'just hype'.

Over half (53pc) of the respondents have prioritised VR as the next new mode of learning they most want to implement - ahead of virtual classrooms, mobile learning, games-based learning and social learning - in terms of priority.

The biggest benefits of VR were cited to be; aiding in creating a more engaging learning experience (89pc), making high-risk or impractical training achievable (84pc) and helping the organisation to be more innovative (81pc).

Only two per cent of respondents said their organisation is already using VR for training.

73pc perceive cost, lack of knowledge on how to use VR (61pc) and lack of cultural appetite (38pc) as potential hindrances to adopting VR.

Tim Drewitt, Product Innovator at Kallidus says: "Although only a third of the L&D professionals we surveyed have had any hands-on experience of VR, the vast majority are very excited about its potential to add something special to the learning mix. Time will tell, but it's possible that this exciting immersive technology could be adopted faster than previous new learning approaches and may prove to be as game-changing in learning as the advent of the PC."

4 August 2016

Datascape Tutorial - Enhancing Network Graphs

Starting from where Tutorial 5 left off, this tutorial shows you how to add shapes, point colour and link colour to improve the visual look of the graph and show more aspects of the data it represents. The video then shows you how to add a web link to each point, so that it can open a URL linked to that point - here we link surnames to a Facebook people search. Finally the video shows you how to create a chord based circular mapping for the data to get an alternative visualisation.

Read more about how to do this on the Datascape Wiki.

1 August 2016

DadenU Day: Oculus Rift CV1

By: Nash Mbaya

Upgrading Oculus Rift Unity SDK to Consumer Version 1 SDK

For our third Daden U Day I looked into updated some of our products which had Oculus support to the latest version CV1.

The Oculus Rift CV1 or Consumer Version One is the latest Oculus Rift model which was made available to the public as of March 28th 2016. I began the day by attempting to install the setup software downloaded from the Oculus website. It was all looking promising until the software prompted me to update my display drivers. I installed the latest drivers for the graphics card in my development machine which is an AMD Radeon 6800 series. After installing the drivers I opened the Oculus software installer once again and once again is asked my to update my display drivers. After some research(googling) I discovered that if your machine does not meet the minimum requirements it display that message. It will also not allow you to progress with the installation process until it is satisfied that the machine has a decent graphics card. I knew my graphics card was below par but I was hoping I could install the drivers and use the SDK for Unity for development. I was not interested in actually using to play.

Fortunately for me we are technology company so I found another machine to develop on. After downloading the latest version of the Oculus SDK. It was an easy process to upgrade SDK in the my Unity project (Daden Campus).

I would like to give a big thumbs up to the guys and girls at Oculus who put a lot of thought and effort into making the process simple. They didn't change much of how you add Oculus Rift support to your project but changed the underlying code. You still use the prefabs though the structure has changed slightly most of the classes still exit with the same names. By the end of the day I was able to run the Unity application and play through it. The only problems I was left having were related to the xbox controller which I'm still working on ...

P.S. We'll releasing Daden Campus onto the Rift Store once we've finished working on the controller and have got all the interactions working. You download the non-Rift version of the Campus and have a play to get an idea of what the space is all about.