Category Archives: video streaming

Adventure via Oculus

My mind has moved into 2021 as I start to plan my next adventures. But my body had been struggling with 2020 pandemic workout options.

First Time on Oculus
First Time on Oculus

That is until I discovered the Oculus Quest 2 Virtual Reality Headset. My son-in-law introduced me to it and I knew immediately that I needed to have this technology. The opportunity to immerse yourself is another place such as a good backpacking trek totally justified the purchase. Then I explored some exercise oriented apps and decided to buy a 1 year subscription to SuperNatural.

So this is my short post about how the Oculus 2 Headset has allowed my Adventures to Continue. The YouTube VR Library is growing with some really great 360 videos. Plus there is Oculus TV which gives you many options to travel around the world. But then I explored the exercise option and realized that this VR thing could be the answer to the exercise motivation needed to keep my old body ready for the live adventures. I have never participated in any organized exercise program. I don’t do yoga and I have never joined a health club for exercise. But this SuperNatural App made exercise enjoyable and I have selected a few coaches who I like and my body is truly starting to experience the rewards. The concept of hitting black and white balls coming at you with virtual bats along with squatting under triangle barriers also coming at you is good. I decided to write a post after ending a session where I worked out on the surface of the moon as well as at my favorite backpacking location of Tom, Dick & Henry Mountain. The technique of placing you in a beautiful setting hitting balls and squeezing under virtual tunnels gives your body a complete workout. You can work up a sweat with a good 15 minute session and you definitely have to push yourself to finish the longer sessions. Here is the SuperNatural Promo Video:

Exercise via Your Oculus VR Headset

This Virtual Reality tech is not entirely new to me. As a CIO in Higher Education I have watched the progression of the VR Technology. In the early days a team of many developers would spend months to develop an immersive experience on the high priced Oculus headset of the day. But now VR’s time has arrived and Facebook’s purchase of Oculus is a part of it. The Headset is relatively affordable now because the money is going to be made off the apps. This is just the next Playstation or XBox. BTW – my right arm is a bit sore from playing so much Table Tennis on the Eleven app.

Update 6 weeks later – still very positive. I have been meeting my goal of working out 4 times a week and I am seeing amazing improvements with strength and flexibility. I don’t worry to much about points, I realize that just doing the workout is a victory. The thing that bugs me the most is when I hit a ball with the wrong colored bat. I think the mental exercise aspect of the workout is as important as the physical. I think the combination of exercising and then getting in the Hot Tub is great for the body. I have always had low back concerns and now I feel so much more confident. I can’t wait to hit the ski slopes or the backpacking trail to enjoy what this old body can do.

Good Look at our iGFU Mobile Portal

Our student News team wanted to do a story on our iGFU Mobile Portal. They tried to video record a demo off of an iPAD which was not going to work so iGFU author, Brian McLaughlin, made them a simple tutorial that we now use on our website. Checkout the tutorial if you have any interest in what a university mobile portal needs to be. Remember, our mobile portal is basically a skunk works project that leverages the flexibility and performance of HTML5 using Java and PHP to access useful data from general data feeds, Moodle and our PeopleSoft ERP.

The tutorial also highlights a couple of other useful tools. Brian made the video by using an App called AirServer that allows him to mirror an IOS device to his MacBook. He then records it with Quicktime and with a little editing on iMovie you get a very real view of a mobile app. Then we upload the video to our new ShareStream video distribution system which gives us total flexiblity to manage and distribute video (especially if we want to manage copyright). We are investigating if AirServer might offer a better path for iPad mirroring to projector in the classroom.

Time to Invest in Video Distribution

Video distribution is high on my priority list. We have made the most of iTunesU, our own Darwin streaming server, You-Tube, Vimeo and even Moodle. But the effort does not justify the means any more. Dealing with copyright issues is becoming more strategic and of course the overall amount of media objects being distributed has been exploding for a number of years now. We tried to conquer the OpenCast Matterhorn project, but it is not hard to figure out that open source projects either have momentum or they fade away. Plus most of the solutions that have been pitched have more of a focus on the ingestion of video for processing help. Distribution is a by-product that is typically not fully developed.

Lecture capture has been the commercial money maker with value coming from the ease of capture and production. But why would we want to capture lectures when the reason for all of this extra video is to supplement the trend toward blended learning. We have a fair investment in Camtasia so we are interested in video distribution of these Camtasia video vignettes  so maybe Camtasia Relay makes sense. But I think we are really looking at a solution like Kaltura, ShareStream, MediaCast or Ensemble. And I lean toward a hosted solution since my network is not optimized for streaming nor should it be. The solution must focus on the flexibility of access control so that we can comply with copyright. A little help with video ingestion formatting would be nice but our media students are very good with that support. Option to integrate with our Moodle LMS is important. And it does not hurt for the solution to help manage other content streams like podcasts or other commercial video repositories. I will let you know what we select.

Results are in – we will be going with a ShareStream hosted solution. Our media team is very excited about moving content over to a distribution system that provides access control. The Moodle interface is good but they probably need to focus more on the major LMS in the world.

Streaming Your Athletic Events is a Win

I happen to be a CIO who is also a sports fan and supporting my university’s athletic programs is a benefit of the job. IT’s involvement with Athletics in recent years has been based on the technology needed for broadcasting our sporting events. A good partnership as IT needed to perfect video streaming techniques and Athletics was looking for any exposure they could get. Early on we had excess bandwidth to offer up for video streaming of events. Last year we learned a lot about streaming and video production, etc. Some success and failures, but it was a lot of fun and with parents of the athletes the primary benefactors.

Well we got some exposure mostly with having a NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, so there was increased demand for improved digital presence for Athletics. We solved a big need by outsourcing our Athletics website, but improving the video streaming was the big problem. The issue for streaming had to due with my lack of excess bandwidth (read my last blog post). We outsourced our athletics website to Presto so I inquired about their involvement with video streaming. They pointed me to Stretch Internet, which has provided us with a very acceptable and improved solution. Now we are having more fun improving our video production quality. We’re granting internships to students in our Cinema and Media Communications program, selling sponsorships to pay for the broadcasts and seeing early viewer numbers that are telling us this is good for exposure. Something tells me we have again set the bar up a notch and I think this will provide positive support for our university.

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