Measure Twice, VR Thrice – Using virtual reality as a prototyping step

Quick preview of where this is headed:

Ok, back to the process.

My desk sucked. Look at that piece of junk.

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Headphones hung on the monitor with no room for the stand, Vive stuffed unceremoniously in the bookshelf to the right.

I’d been thinking about designing a new desk pretty much since I got this one for free off a sidewalk, but it never progressed out of sketches.

I went through a few variations of what kind of desk I wanted, but settled on something like this:

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Nothing flashy, but it uses my space more efficiently and it gets my computer off the ground to give it some airflow.

It took me a bit to get my workflow settled, but this is what I ended up with:

(click to enlarge):

 

I used this .obj export macro to get my desk from Solidworks to Unity, and placed it into my environment.

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The white box is my playspace boundary, I positioned the desk so that it lines up to where by current desk actually is. This was pretty trippy, I could reach out in VR to touch the edge of my virtual desk, and would connect with my real desk.

 

For added immersion, I added in my walls, (future) monitor, and keyboard. I made the keyboard and monitor physics objects so I could interact with them, and created a collision mesh for the desk top so I could drop the keyboard onto it.

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To get rid of the drab grey textures, I took the Solidworks .obj into Blender and UV unwrapped the file. Taking this into Photoshop let me apply some texture to the objects and place them back into Unity.

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Repeat for monitor, keyboard, and walls.

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At this point I got pretty impatient and just wanted to build the damn thing, so I headed to IKEA and bought their Gerton table top, which is a 30×60″ piece of maple. With the help of the woodshop at the TinkerMill in Longmont, CO, I cut it to shape and trucked it back to my aparment.

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I screwed some cheap $4 IKEA legs onto it, just to get it upright. I plan to build the base for it as well, but that’ll come later. I didn’t like the very light color, so I got some MinWax Golden Pecan wood stain and MinWax poly and got a weekend of good weather out on the balcony.

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Two stains and three coats of poly later, I want to call the top done! Final glamor pic, loving it so far. Feel free to post any questions about the process down in the comments.

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All in all, not too different from my VR mockup! Just need that 34″ ultrawide now…

2 Comments

  1. DougieD said:

    I’m impressed yo

    September 21, 2016
    Reply
    • tmcmoore said:

      Thanks man, this project was a lot of fun.

      I’m kinda curious, how did you find this page? I haven’t really linked to it from anywhere that I know of.

      September 21, 2016
      Reply

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