Developers of immersive games and apps, rejoice! From now on, you will only need to write one code for all the devices that users may have. This is the big news the XR development world was waiting for for a long time. And it is made possible by VIRTUOSO, an open-source SDK created by Charles River Analytics, which is now available for Epic Games’ Unreal Engine.
VIRTUOSO SDK (VSDK): Making XR Development More Streamlined
Immersive experiences are in greater demand in all fields: for home entertainment, for training in various industries, and for retail and marketing. In this context, developers were swamped with work: they had to write code for the same application several times to meet the requirements of each device operating system.
For the team at Charles River Analytics, a company specializing in R&D in AI, robotics and human-machine interactions, this state of things was not acceptable. They envisioned a new XR development process, where game and app creators only have to create one code, which will work on any device and need only one API.
“Our goal at Charles River Analytics is to provide a next-generation interface that streamlines development and increases adoption without sacrificing the quality of the XR outcome,” said Charles River Analytics Software Engineer, Dan Duggan, in a press release. “This open-source SDK is only the beginning for us. We’re looking for continuous feedback as we keep striving to make the developer experience better.”
An Epic Games MegaGrant Brought VIRTUOSO SDK to the Unity World
In August 2020, Charles River Analytics received a MegaGrant from Epic Games, allowing the SDK to become fully integrated into the company’s game developing eco-system.
“Our collaboration with Epic has allowed us to bridge VSDK’s versatility with a powerful creation engine designed for the game developer community,” said the Vice President of Commercialization at Charles River Analytics, Dr. Elaine B. Coleman. “We’re excited to see what developers will do with VIRTUOSO SDK now that we have removed long-standing XR barriers.” Coleman also added that they expect this will considerably accelerate game development.
The Key Benefits and Features of VIRTUOSO SDK
The VSDK approach to XR development is to provide game creators with standardized “code wrappers.” This means that in writing a code, a developer will treat all types of devices as if they had the same programming interface.
Not only does it speed up XR development, but it also removes compatibility issues, without affecting the quality of graphics, haptics, and other game interactions. Among the innovative features of VSDK, we note:
- Ease of use: a developer does not need specialized XR skills, as the SDK incorporates the necessary software components;
- Modular build: developers will find completely separate modules for interactions, characters, and device interoperability;
- Rapid prototyping using the Reaction System, which is even driven, extensible, and relies on naturalistic interactions.
Supported Devices and Future Releases
The VIRTUOSO SDK for XR development is available as a full open-source release for the Unity game engine on Github. It currently supports the following devices and XR systems:
- SteamVR: HTC Vive and Windows MR headsets
- Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest
- Leap Motion
- Sense Glove
- bHaptics TactSuit.
The SDK is also now available for the Ureal Engine in the alpha stage. A beta version will be released at a later date.