Hello Virtual World

SteamVR keyboard's extra characters key

Every blog has its first post and it is often the least read so well done if you found this one. This is a first post with a difference though; i’m writing it from within a virtual environment. Specifically, I’m using a HTC Vive system with SteamVR’s virtual keyboard and built-in VR web browser.

Learning to type in VR

It’s a bit like typing on a smartphone, the Vive controller’s ‘laser’ acting as a long virtual finger or stylus. I have to admit it has some limitations.

Typing in VR with SteamVR's virtual keyboard with the Vive remote
Typing on SteamVR’s virtual keyboard with the Vive remote ‘laser’ wand.

Initially selecting the field to edit and getting the virtual keyboard to appear at the same time was tricky. Sometimes hitting the system-key to hide the display then bringing it back up allowed the keyboard to be activated. I’ve had no luck getting a carriage return from the enter key either so formatting will be fixed later with an old fashioned keyboard, mouse and rather unwearable monitor.

One useful thing I have discovered is that the SteamVR virtual keyboard has a second page of characters available. To access them, aim for the blank key on the left of the keyboard.

SteamVR keyboard's extra characters key
The SteamVR keyboard’s hidden extra character key

Taking Screenshots

Taking the screenshots seen here was also a little involved. Using the Vive controller’s trigger + system button didn’t work for me. Instead, I selected the Desktop Mirror function and used the hardware keyboard ‘S’ key. This actually spits out multiple images and layers. You get a left/right pair, a single distortion corrected screenshot. You also get shots of layers which were shown on the virtual ‘screen’, in this case the web page and the virtual keyboard itself.

Now, I don’t intend to write every post on this blog from within a VR environment; it’s a bit arduous at the moment. My ideal future VR typing method would probably be something like the Leap Motion. Then I could at least finger-peck the keys with the virtual representations of my hands. This I suspect, may lead to just as much ‘gorilla-arms’ effect as waving a controller around for half an hour 😉

I intend that virtualsunburn.com be readable with VR environments so while HMD resolutions continue to improve, a simple, high-contrast design will be used.

See you in there!

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