Tag Archives: Oculus Rift

Dylan Diamond Does F8

“On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog” — that’s the classic New Yorker cartoon, showing 2 canines at a computer.

No one knows you’re a high school junior, either.

Not that anyone should care. Staples’ Dylan Diamond designs user-friendly apps that fill folks’ needs.

Dylan Diamond, at San Francisco's Fort Mason earlier this month.

Dylan Diamond, at San Francisco’s Fort Mason earlier this month.

His myHAC allows students and parents nationwide easy access to school schedules and grades. It’s been downloaded 85,000 times.

Ski With Friends helps skiers find buddies on the slope.

His current project, Saround — with fellow Westporter Adam Goldberg — lets users book anything from babysitters and yardwork to concert tickets, by priority.

Next up: an app to expedite food purchases in school cafeterias.

So it’s no surprise that Dylan snagged a coveted invitation to Facebook’s F8 conference this month.

Or that Facebook covered the entire $800 registration fee too.

Dylan Diamond, with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Dylan Diamond, with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

The hands-on, collaborative event — held at San Francisco’s Fort Mason — is huge. It draws developers and entrepreneurs from around the globe. Facebook engineers interact with attendees. They share ideas, teach each other, and return to their offices (or schools) ready for the Next Big Thing.

Dylan made the most of his time. He saw Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, standing on the conference floor. Dylan walked up, introduced himself, and told her about his apps.

Dylan also hung with Mike Schroepfer, the CTO. He sat next to the CEO of Oculus Rift, the biggest name in virtual reality.

Dylan and those heavy hitters talked about Facebook’s new Messenger bot — unveiled at F8 — as well as analytics.

He got advice on startups. Attendees examined his code, and answered his questions about how to do more, be more efficient, and design better tools.

Dylan Diamond was up close for Mark Zuckerberg's keynote address.

Dylan Diamond was up close for Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address.

Mark Zuckerberg was there too, of course. His keynote address was one highlight. Even better: His announcement that everyone at F8 would received a free Oculus headset.

(Dylan used it on the plane ride home. His fellow travelers were quite impressed.)

There were a couple dozen high school students at F8, like Dylan. They become good friends. After the conference, he and 2 others drove to Cupertino, to check out Uber and Apple headquarters.

“Everyone there was super-passionate,” Dylan says. “They really opened  my eyes to new ideas.”

Dylan does more than develop apps, of course. He handles the school paper Inklings’ website. He’s also on the ski and cross country team.

That last activity came in handy at F8. A  long line of attendees waited to get into the building to hear Zuckerberg.

Dylan outraced the others, and had one of the best seats in the house.

Dylan Diamond's VR selfie.

Dylan Diamond’s VR selfie.

Virtually Real Real Estate

If you’ve seen “Ice Age,” “Rio,” “Epic” — even “Horton Hears a Who” — you know Inna Agujen’s work.

As senior technical director for Blue Sky Studios in Greenwich, she created computer-generated environments — forests, jungles, ice worlds — for those animated films.

Inna Agujen

Inna Agujen

When her 3rd child was born, Inna became a freelancer. She and her husband formed a software business.

In 2014 — fed up with ever-rising property taxes and declining schools in Westchester — Inna and her husband moved to Westport. They’d visited Compo Beach a couple of years earlier, and said, “This is the place to be!”

It’s been a good move. “People work hard here,” Inna says. “But they also enjoy life. We’re glad we made the jump.”

It did not take long for Inna to discover the Westport Library’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. “It’s a new way to look at space,” she says.

Inna was hooked. But she wanted to do more with the cutting-edge technology.

She has a real estate license. She saw her colleagues photographing multimillion-dollar homes with cellphones.


Inna’s new company — Procyon 7 Studios — uses a Matterport camera to scan a house’s interiors. After a bit of editing, Inna uploads a 3D “virtual tour” of homes for sale. Think of it as an indoor version of Google Street View. You decide where you want to walk, which stairs to take, what rooms to peek into — and wherever you go, you’ve got 360-degree vision.

The start of a tour using 3D technology. From here, you can go anywhere in the house.

The start of a tour using 3D technology. From here, you can go anywhere in the house.

Procyon 7 lets you measure any room or part of the house. It’s easy to visualize additions, renovations and more.

Buyers love the technology, Inna says. They can fall in love with a home — or hate it — long before setting foot inside. One realtor likened it to “playing with a dollhouse.” Clients became obsessed with it, “almost like a kid playing Minecraft.”

3D rendering tours have potential far beyond real estate. Inna says they’re great for museums, art galleries — any interior space that people wander through. She thinks architects, builders, designers and insurance companies will love the concept.

Intrigued? Not sure what this is all about? Click here to see one of Inna Agujen’s virtual tours. (Once the site loads, click, hold and move anywhere on the kitchen image to begin.)

The 3D technology also offers a "dollhouse" view inside a home.

The 3D technology also offers a “dollhouse” view inside a home.

Virtually Oculus

Two months ago, the Westport Library bought an Oculus Rift. They lacked a computer with a graphics card big enough for the virtual reality headset that generates a crazy, immersive virtual world — but that’s the way the library rolls.

The Rift was about to hit the general consumer market. Library staffers knew it would be big. They snagged one of the last 2nd-generation developers’ kits. Then they went to work, figuring out what to do with it.

Nate Allen — a Maker Space volunteer who’s home-schooled in Fairfield — put the appropriate computer pieces together. (I asked him if it took all summer. Nope: 2 hours.)

Alex Giannini (left), Nate Allen, the Oculus Rift headset and computer.

Alex Giannini (left), Nate Allen, the Oculus Rift headset and computer.

The other day, I took it for a test drive. I’d never donned a virtual reality headset before — I’m not exactly a hardcore gamer — but despite a warning from Alex Giannini, the library’s manager of digital experience, that I might get nauseous, I opted for the Rift’s rollercoaster ride.

I have to say: It’s pretty freakin’ cool. I zoomed up, down and through some crazy Alice in Wonderland-type scenes. But with the Rift, I also looked all around — even over my shoulder — and became immersed in some great virtual reality scenes.

The Rift will be available for everyone 13 and up. But, Alex knows, the core demographic is teenagers.

“That’s great,” he says. “This will get them to the library. They’ll play video games, but they’ll stay to help out. Maybe it will inspire some of them to get into developing games too.”

The Oculus Rift headset.

The Oculus Rift headset.

The Rift will be unveiled Labor Day weekend, at the library’s Blues, Views & BBQ booth. Later this fall it will be used as part of the library’s Teen Gaming Night.

Alex loves the Rift. “It’s so far beyond previous generations of virtual reality, I can’t even describe it,” he says. “We’re on the verge of something huge.”

As usual, the Westport Library leads the way.