Gert-Jan van der Wel

Hey! My name is Gert-Jan van der Wel. I'm 41 years old, Dutch, married and have three little kids. I co-founded Floorplanner and I'm currently transitioning from running the technology dept to the sales dept. In between family and work, I like to ride my road bike whenever I can.

Here I share what I'm up to and working on at the moment. I aim to update it every few weeks. If you want me to send you an email whenever I wrote something new, you can sign up here.

Fiddling in VR

hobby - 21 Feb 2019

The promise of virtual reality (VR) has been around for a long time and over the years I’ve done quite a few experiments with it. For the first one you needed a mobile phone that you had to put in a holder and then on your face. In 2015 we made it possible to render an interior panorama of any room on our site Roomstyler and watch on your phone on your head. This didn’t give you an immersive 3D experience as it was just a single panorama image, but it was nice to be able to stand inside a room and look around by simply turning your head.

When the Oculus Rift came out in 2016 we bought one for the office. This was quite the opposite of a phone. You needed a powerful computer to run it and had to connect the headset to the computer with a number of cables. Through sensors you could move around in virtual realty and with the two controllers in your hands you could interact with it. This made all the difference! No longer were you on the outside looking in, you could now grab things, move and shape them.

This got me very enthusiastic about VR but we had so many other things on our plate that we didn’t set out to build anything ourselves. We did talk to the talented Johan Hanegraaf who was (and is!) building a way to be an architect in VR on the Vive platform. We tried to work together for awhile, but unfortunately it didn’t work out.

Last Christmas we gave all our Floorplanner coworkers an Oculus Go as a present. It’s a dedicated device for VR that comes with a controller but doesn’t need a computer and it has no cables. So you can interact in VR, but it doesn’t track your movements (that’s coming in the next version). It’s a gift for fun and entertainment but we also want our coworkers to spend some time in virtual reality to experience what it is like.

The same goes for my kids, although that wasn’t very difficult as they are obsessed with anything that has a screen. My oldest daughter gave the Anne Frank House VR a try where you can walk around the house and the room where Anna hid out. She has recently read Anne Frank’s book and the VR experience made the book really come to life for her.

Unfortunately there aren’t many great games or apps for VR available yet and that’s probably because a lot of people simply don’t have a VR device. I don’t know how and even if VR will really catch on, but I recently started working on my own little VR app anyway. I’m experimenting with an app that enables you to create something inside VR on the web. More on that in a later post.