WebVR research team eleVR have created Quaternion Monkeys, a four-dimensional VR-based cube of neon simians.
Both Google and Firefox have been adding web-based virtual reality functionality to their browsers throughout 2014. Known as webVR, the new API allows developers to build games and applications viewable through VR head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard. WebVR also allows users to interact virtually with a variety of content. One such experimental project, Quaternion Monkeys, exploits webVR for humorous, cartoonishly psychedelic ends.
Quaternion Monkeys was created by eleVR, a webVR research team that includes Vi Hart, Andrea Hawksley, and Emily Eifler, who were doing some of the first webVR stuff back in June. More recently eleVR have been working with Mozilla on webVR integration for their experimental browser, mozVR. What viewers see and interact with in Quaternion Monkeys is pretty much all in the title:
Quaternions are a complex number system—imaginary numbers used to solve equations without solutions—first described in 1843 by Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton. They're commonly used to make calculations for three-dimensional computer graphics and computer vision, as well as in three-dimensional rotation.
And that's the basic idea behind Quaternion Monkeys: a bunch of vacant-looking monkeys, arms and legs interlocked to form a hypercube (a cube in four-dimensions), rotating upon axes that can be altered by the viewer. Aside from messing with rotation, viewers can also change the monkeys' color by simply clicking on the WebVR app. You don't need a VR headset to have fun with Quaternion Monkeys, but it sure would make it that much more fun.
“We're trying all sorts of things right now, seeing what we can do with webVR,” Vi Hart told The Creators Project. “The graphics shader is by 4d game developer Marc ten Bosch, and it's amazing that it can do the 4d transformations in browser. We're doing actual 4D graphics in real time, in VR, in browser, and even that hasn't pushed webVR to its limit.”
“The non-VR version of the 4d monkey sculpture by Henry Segerman and Will Segerman comes from research Henry and I did on 4-dimensional symmetry groups,” added Hart.
EleVr regularly make VR videos downloadable under a Creative Commons license, open source their code, and blog about their video experiments, camera setups, neuroscience, and mathematical results. So, head to their website to stay updated on their various projects, which includes Eifler's Glitch Horse (see GIF below of the work-in-progress) and Pointland.