We had a visit from Google! They were mainly here to talk to the marketing team about search engines and such for advertising purposes, but near the end of it some of us got to pop in and hear about some of the latest and greatest Google gadgets and developments.
They had a lot of interesting stuff to show us. Some we already knew about, like Smart Home assistants, and some we’d never even heard of before, like the Google Cultural Institute. However, my favourite thing was a virtual reality (VR) application called Tilt Brush.
If you haven’t seen the promotional video for Tilt Brush yet, you can feast your eyes right here. For the rest of the presentation, I think I kept asking questions and joining in on discussions, but to be honest it was just a farce because the whole time, I was actually like this on the inside:
What is Tilt Brush?
Basically, Tilt Brush is the realisation of my childhood dreams. To elaborate on that: it’s a computer program which, with the help of a virtual reality viewer and a pair of motion tracking controllers, allows you to just draw in the air. That’s right, the stuff of every artist’s sci-fi fantasy just got the ‘-fi’ and the ‘fantasy’ parts chopped off: now it’s just science. Thanks to virtual reality, you can take digital art off the screen and fill up your whole room with drawings.
Tilt Brush doesn’t stop at simple drawing, either; with a range of brushes and pens in every colour possible on the RGB colour model, there really is no limit to what you can create. The special effects brushes will allow your strokes to sparkle, glow, smoke, flash like a neon sign, run with shooting stars and more. Best of all, as you’re working in a 3D space, you can walk around your creation and see it from different angles. You can save your artwork as a big VR file to load it up again after, or as a small animated GIF to share with friends who don’t have the software.
How do we get one?!
Tilt Brush is already out… kind of. Some of the hardware you need to run it, like the HTC Vive, is still only available as pre-order in Australia (typical). As one of the most sophisticated VR devices on the market, the HTC Vive is also eye-wateringly, heartbreakingly expensive at $899 USD. While Tilt Brush itself only costs $29.99 USD, there are other expenses to consider. While most gamers or digital artists may already have a computer powerful enough to handle the software (you can check out the minimum spec requirements on Steam), if you don’t have the right set-up, the cost of building a suitable PC can easily run into the thousands. It all adds up pretty quickly. If you can afford it, that’s great, but for a lot of us it just isn’t a financially responsible (or possible) decision. Hopefully the price will drop after a few years.
How do you not to bang into things?
Does anyone else remember when the Nintendo Wii first came out and some people accidentally hurled the remote through their TV screens? I’m thinking along those lines here. While using Tilt Brush is likely to be a lot less vigorous than your average Wii Sports game, I’m still not entirely sure how one avoids banging into walls and furniture while creating a large-scale masterpiece. The HTC Vive has forward-facing cameras to allow you to switch between viewing virtual reality and regular reality, but I still foresee a situation where someone backs up a little too far and smacks into something, so I’m sure there’ll be some embarrassing stories popping up in the future. I just hope no one is stupid enough to try playing on a balcony.
Furthermore, what about your brain’s natural response when it thinks you’re about to hit something? How close can my head get to my own Tilt Brush drawings before it starts creeping in on my peripheral vision? I’m the kind of person who turns a corner in the shops and gets scared to death by one of those life-size police officer cardboard cutouts because I thought I was about to barge into a real person. I can definitely see myself instinctively freaking out and ducking under one of my own creations in an awkward panic.
What’s the first thing you’d draw with Tilt Brush? Let us know in the comments.