Contributed by: Maia Mongado
ShapesXR is a collaborative VR modeling app. Users can share a space, see, and hear each other and have access to the same models in real time. It is primarily used for collaborative and immersive storyboarding, prototyping, and industrial design.
It is primarily a paid app, but has a free version directly on the Oculus Store with limited features and various differently priced versions for different use cases.
There is a fair amount of documentation and tutorials, as well as one-on-one onboarding sessions with a ShapesXR employee to learn how to use the software specifically for your needs.
VR Requirements and Setup
ShapesXR works on the Oculus Quest and Oculus Quest 2.
Compatible files: png, jpg, obj, mtl
1.) Download ShapesXR from the Oculus store and log in with your Oculus account.
2.) Go to the web dashboard here; you will be prompted to log in.
3.) Once you log in, you should be able to see the dashboard, where you can drag in your files.
4.) In the VR app, go to the Shapes tab of the menu.
Accessibility: The estimated time for someone to get it up and running
Availability - Noted as particularly easy to download and set up; it's an app directly on the Oculus store and only requires a log-in and short room code.
Ease of use - The opening tutorial and visual cues on the controls was noted as especially helpful for learning its capabilities; users did note that there is a learning curve because there are so many capabilities, but with some time they become easy to use and are easy to navigate. Movement was noted as being the trickiest.
Power: The engine's power - i.e. how much one can do with this
Medium: While the data visualization was noted as fluid and pricier versions include more cloud storage, the engine doesn't provide much ability to change the existing mesh of imported obj files beyond coloring certain areas.
Usage: Evaluation of software's use for the following purposes
Art / Game Design - A great tool for this purpose and is actually made with prototyping / storyboarding in mind; while the shapes you can make are fairly simple and the creative ability is limited, it's quick and easy to move through various workspaces
Science - Good for observing existing .obj files and could be useful for things like chemistry where 3D shape is extremely important. However, there's not much ability to change / edit shapes and meshes.
Education - Very useful for education; the controls are fairly easy to learn in comparison to other modeling software and there are simple drawing, typing, and coloring tools helpful for highlighting certain things.
One of the easiest programs to set up and get the hang of; limited in its model creation and editing abilities although visualization and imports are done well.
Fig 1. Class activity in ShapesXR with theobromine molecule
Fig 2. Low-poly tree in ShapesXR
Avatars are represented by a set of glasses, a small mouth, and a transluscent blue blob for hands. Users noted that it captured all the important info - namely, where people were looking, what position their hands were in, and if they were talking or not. Some users would have preferred slightly more detail
There is spatial audio in the app, which is the primary mode of communication between avatars. Users noted that it wasn't used frequently but when it was, it was helpful. There is also the ability to write in text boxes which opens up annotation possibilities, but users noted typing in VR and the drawing ability was much more useful when it came to transmitting written data. They also noted that diction might be useful in the future (speech to text) to avoid having to use VR controls, which are generally ill-suited to writing information.
Users noted that it was helpful to see each others' avatars and hand representations, and that seeing each others' changes in real time did give them the sense of a real collaborative environment.
All sharing the same space meant that others could easily undo each others' work, and as communication was not always easy, this did happen.