I’m a fan of the blocky-style voxel art reminiscent of Minecraft and 8-bit games. The team at Phoria have taken it to a new level with shareVOX — a way to create voxel art together in AR, in real time, on your phone! Trent Clews-de Castella, co-founder of Phoria, was kind enough to share what they’re up to with shareVOX and more in the lead up to Magnify World Melbourne.
“shareVOX connects digital and physical spaces in a way that evokes shared interactivity and expression. It not only transforms the way we create art, but it also shows us how we can better use immersive technology to enhance normal, day-to-day human experiences in the future.” — Trent Clews-de Castella
There are going to be some really transformative AR apps out there which make us think about things in a different way. I think multiplayer-style ones like shareVOX are going to really help push the prevalence of all of this. Being able to share augmented experiences just brings the augmented world to a new level of value — it isn’t just a random thing you’re looking at any longer, it’s a thing you can share with others in real time and have them interact with and build upon.
If you’re keen to give it a go, it’s available on Google Play and the iOS App Store right now! They’ll also be demoing this and a range of other creations at Magnify World Melbourne on the 24th-25th August.
Phoria’s shareVOX has a focus on “voxels”, which is best described as a 3-dimensional pixel. Voxel art often looks like a 3D representation of the old school 8-bit arcade games. Trent explains best how their tool brings voxel art into AR — and how you can even share and publish creations:
“shareVOX is a rapid voxel tool that extends the creative canvas into 3D space. This means that users can create blocky art with their phones in real-time, anywhere in the world. But taking it a step further, shareVOX also has the ability to publish and share these creations, thanks to Google’s Poly Upload API. By developing shareVOX with Google, this AR app not only builds 3D models, but it can upload them to the Cloud. And as shareVOX operates in both Android and iOS ecosystems, these 3D creations are broadcast on a global scale.”
So how did it come about? It turns out, it was a challenge set by Phoria for three of their contractors! They did it in less than a month!
“Phoria engaged three of their contractors with the mission, build an app in 30 days, and get featured at the Google IO conference. They dove in with our creative director and founder, and did an amazing job completing a full experience in less than a month, and two members have actually joined the team.” — Trent Clews-de Castella
One of the areas Phoria is excited by is smart environments. They see the emerging need for a way to show the growing level of information we’re gathering from our environments. Trent sees the layers of our smart environment inferfaces getting more personal and more interactive:
“As we get more information about our environments, we will need tools to access and add to this. Apps like shareVOX are a fun example of how a person can add digital content to a room or landscape”
“We already have a digital layer for the world with things like Google Maps. We see this zooming down to a personal level, and becoming more interactive.” — Trent Clews-de Castella
Phoria are a “tight-knit Melbourne company looking to make 3D and AR tools accessible, integrating the potential of immersive tech into everyday experiences”. They have a range of talented partner developers helping them towards their goal of “building a shared, interactive future in XR (Extended Reality), propelling Australia to the forefront of a global movement”. With all that, it’s clear that shareVOX isn’t the only thing going on (they’ve made a whole bunch of really impressive stuff!)
Phoria are currently trialling using VR to help children prepare for radiotherapy. Trent explains,
“We are currently completing a clinical trial with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, using virtual reality to help children get ready for radiotherapy. We use a previsualised experience to introduce them to the equipment and procedures, so they’re less anxious on the day. It’s too early to talk about medical outcomes, but it’s great we’re using virtual reality to help kids through this tough experience.”
Phoria were also an experimental partner on the Google Tango project and Trent says they are still “using Tango phones to create high quality digital twins of spaces”. In particular, this sort of digital twin can be used to do things like visualise engineering information and add annotations.
Trent says that Phoria are working on transitioning or integrating their Google Tango developments with ARCore,
“We’re working on combining or replacing this with the ARCore SDK, to create tools engineers can use to better interact with work sites.”
A big thank you to Trent from Phoria for sharing some of his time with me for this article! Phoria are always sharing their work with all of this tech on the social media landscape, so check them out at @phoriatech on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
And, of course, if you’re going to be in Melbourne on the 24th-25th August, you need to come along to Magnify World to see a whole bunch of VR/AR they’ll be demoing! You’ll also be able to meet lovely and tuned in people in the industry like Rupert Dean (he talked with us about Plattar’s efforts in WebXR), Pat Hull (he shared thoughts on taking advantage of the endless opportunities in AR with us recently), Barry Sandrew (he brought colour to classic films, 3D to new feature films and shared his thoughts with us on the huge potential of VR/AR) and Patricia Haueiss (she shared her thoughts on augmented fashion with us, along with her thoughts on why VR is not dead just recently!). Basically, there are a whole lot of very smart people headed to Magnify World, a whole lot of super cool demos and so you should try to get there if you can! Check it out on the Magnify World website.