Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Virtual Reality Art Show

For the past six years, I've helped out at our community Art and Craft Festival. The logistics behind such a show are surprisingly daunting - hundreds of pieces of art have to be delivered, catalogued, tracked and (ideally) sold over the course of one weekend.

A couple of years ago I built a mobile website to help with this process. The website allows show coordinators to invite artists; artists to photograph (using their camera phone) and upload their art; the gallery team to arrange the paintings on walls using a drag-and-drop UI; and finally the sales team to track sales.

Another requested feature was to allow people to buy art online, before the show. But how to give people a good impression of how that art will look in their home? How to give a feel for the size of the art, and what colour walls it suits?

In previous years I solved this using stock photos of lounge rooms overlayed with simple CSS perspective transforms - to 'hang' the art on the wall.

However for the 2017 show I've upgraded the site to use the new A-Frame framework. I think this presents a great case study of using Virtual Reality for non-gaming. Virtual Reality excels at giving people a sense of scale, which (hopefully) will really help in deciding to buy art online. Art galleries are also a great application for Web VR, as paintings use only simple geometry which is easy for lower-end devices to handle.

Check it out at or see the screenshow below:

As a bonus, I've also Open Sourced the A-Frame collision detection component I developed to prevent the user walking through walls.