An open education platform: Alloverse’s journey towards 1.0

February 19, 2020
Nevyn Bengtsson

In September 2019, Alloverse had settled on six founders: Nevyn, Julie, Tobias, Patrik, Emma and Elinor. The possibilities for an open platform like Alloverse are endless, but we found a common passion to work towards.

Alloverse’s first mission in the world is to provide an open platform for educators and students. This means that we’re building all the tools and infrastructure needed to build classrooms, whether you’re

  • bringing VR headsets into your physical classroom;
  • building remote classrooms bringing people together from around the world;
  • or even doing corporate training in VR, to reduce your company’s reliance on airfare.

The infrastructure we build for education will also be useful to business, pair programming, and the other use cases we’ve previously planned; but our main focus is on education.

To hear more about how this educational platform is going to work, do tune in to Nevyn Bengtsson’s presentation “Building the Open Metaverse with Alloverse” at Educators in VR’s International Summit 2020! This conference is about VR, in VR, and open to the public, so RSVP today to watch the event on Friday the 21st, at 9pm CET (noon PST):

Alloverse AB

With our focus established, we have incorporated as the Swedish company “Alloverse AB”. Starting March 1st, four of us work half time, and we hope that with some initial funding, we can start working on this full time eventually. However, we plan to become self-sustained as soon as possible, and have no plans to go “the venture capital route”. We want to build sustainable infrastructure for the Internet, not cash out in an exit.

Building tools for VR, being on the frontiers of human computer interaction… it’s a dream come true, and I’m very grateful to get to do this as my day job, and so are my colleagues. We hope to bring you more good news soon!

Current progress

All work so far has been in our spare time, mostly during our “VR Hack Nights”. With that limitation, we’ve gotten pretty far! We have hand and head tracking, voice communication, and a rudimentary app API, all working over the network on a multi-user server. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s an iceberg slowly rising above the surface of the water.

We’ll upload public builds to the website so that anybody can join and try it out as soon as we have the CI situation under control.

We hope to see you in the audience at Educators in VR, and soon, in the Alloverse itself!

VR Hack Nights, and the birth of a crazy dream

November 22, 2018
Nevyn Bengtsson

I started sketching on the underpinnings of Alloverse in December 2016. The basic thinking was this: it’s currently not possible to be productive in VR. You can play games, but there is no software infrastructure for really building productivity apps. The way both Oculus and SteamVR works is, you launch a desktop application, and it takes over your entire headset.

This matches how you’d use apps on an iPhone, but not how you do your daily work on a desktop computer. On a real computer, you use multiple apps at the same time, and you take information from one app and apply it to another, you copy-paste, drag-and-drop, and in general just multi-task a lot between apps.

So, what VR then needs, is a platform for running apps not as immersive experiences, but as individual applets that can all run side-by-side in a place, together with you, the user.

This led me to Unix’ ancient X11 design, X11 forwarding, and thinking about the distributed nature of the Internet; and I realized I had to write basically a Unix Window Manager for VR. Had to. Life goal.

But the project was too big, too crazy, and I couldn’t wrap my mind around where I would even start, especially when it’s just a side project next to my busy and booming startup Lookback.

Almost two years later, I watched the Oculus Connect 5 Keynote, and in particular Michael Abrash’ incredibly inspiring talk about the state of XR. He compared today’s situation to the state of computers in 1979-1980, around the time when Xerox PARC was creating the Alto, the cradle of the graphical user interface as we know it. As the foundations for 2D HCI were created in that magical and transformational moment, the foundations for XR and 3D HCI is being created right now.

This made me realize that we’re on the cusp of a revolution, one where AR headsets replace smartphones; one where 2D UIs take the place of text-based terminal interfaces, and 3D UIs replace all every-day computing.

Days later, I started VR The People, a VR hack night group that meet after work every two weeks to learn more about VR, Unity, and to work on our own projects. The time to delve into my own project, with tons of lovely and inspiring people around me, plus the two years of letting my brain background-process how my project should work, finally allowed me to create Alloverse.