Hi! and welcome back to part 7 of the Headjack 101 Crash Course. When we released Headjack to the public in 2015, one of the most frequently asked questions was, ” Can I remote control these headsets? Now that we walked through all steps of creating an app installing it, and app updating, we can have a closer look at the remote control of one or multiple headsets at once with Headjack Operator.
Headjack Operator is the other companion app of the Headjack CMS specifically built to help you prepare your headsets with content loading and device preparation, fleet management and deployment, and remote-controlled playback and review. It is available as a download for tablet devices on both Android and iPad directly from the app store.
The Headjack Operator can be used for the following:
- VR fleet management
- VR device preparation
- Remote-Controlled playback
I will use an app I prepared and built in the following example. I also sideloaded this application to various Oculus Quest 2 since I need to run these headsets in an event/cinema environment once I prepped them.
As you can see in the example, I prepared an app with several projects and chose the Headjack Essential Cinema template to build the app package, which I sideloaded to all my Quest2 Devices. The Operator app can work with all available Essential Templates apart from the mobile template (support scheduled in 2023), but since the Cinema template is specifically designed to work with the Operator app, I choose that for this example.
Now let’s have a closer look at the Headjack Operator App. First, ensure that both your tablet device and your headset are connected to the same wifi network, and that network discoverability is enabled (avoid guest networks or networks that have strict firewalls). When I start Operator for the first time, it will ask me to log in to the correct app with the unique 6-digit login I also use for Headjack Link. Once I have done this, the projects of my app will appear on the left-hand side. Now in order to preview these projects on this iPad, I first need to download the videos to this device so let’s do that first. Once I have downloaded them, you can check to preview them by clicking the preview button and clicking the thumbnail to go fullscreen is needed. Now close the fullscreen mode and connect our first headset to it.
Sending Download Commands to One or Multiple VR devices at once
When I open up the Headjack Cinema App on my Quest 2 and your network is set up correctly, the headset should automatically appear on the right-hand side as a newly available device. When I click on the headset, I have some device information and the possibility to rename the device if needed. When I am inside the headset, I can also see it’s connected and waiting to receive a command from the Operator app.
Now let’s go ahead and download all three videos to this device. I select the headset, click on a project, select download for that project and continue to the next project. As you can see, I have an overview here for that specific headset, where I can check the download progress. When I connect multiple headsets and select them from the device list, I can send this download command to them all at once. Keep in mind that, especially when dealing with a lot of headsets and sending out a download command, this could cause network congestion, so it’s better to do it in batches or sideload the content if you need to prepare a lot of headsets before an event.
As you can see, this is a super efficient and foolproof way of preparing a lot of headsets at once and doesn’t require any interaction with the headset at all, other than starting up the app and preventing it from going to sleep (you can find a setting in most headsets that can disable sleep mode or use a sticker to cover the proximity sensor). If you need to free up space on these headsets, Headjack Operator can also send out delete commands if needed.
Remote Video Controller Playback
Now that we loaded these headsets with some fresh content, it’s time to check out the remote playback capabilities of the Headjack Operator. When I connect 4 Oculus Quest 2, which I would like to start in sync, I ensure they are connected and selected in the device list. Click on the project I would like to start and hit the start button; Now, to achieve perfect sync between all headsets and the Operator, all headsets will be held in a holding pattern until they are ready, and once they are, you can hit play.
Now all videos start playing in sync; As you can see, the top left is the view from the iPad itself; all the other views are from each connected headset. If for some reason, a user takes off the headset and puts it back on again, it will automatically sync to the point where all the other headsets are. I can even enlarge these views so you can see what your users are looking at inside the headsets and spot problems with an individual headset very early. Once the video is done playing, I can go ahead and start another project if needed.
Things To Think about
The Operator is battle tested at thousands of events; therefore, we know a thing or two regarding situations you could encounter during prep, setup, and deployment. That is why I did an extensive write-up with some best practices in this blog which I highly recommend you read before preparing for your event so you know what to expect before you get to a venue and deploy your remote playback solution. But without going into too much detail, I will highlight some matters you should be aware of that can help you during preparation and roll-out.
Although the Operator app doesn’t require an Internet connection after downloading the videos, it is good to pick the right router for the job. You must look for how many simultaneous connections it can maintain at any given point. Most prosumer hardware can support around 30 connections simultaneously; anything above that mostly requires dedicated network infrastructure.
Also, ensure device discoverability is enabled so the operator app and VR devices can find each other on the network and send commands back and forth. As stated before, the Operator app doesn’t require an internet connection after initial setup, so the most reliable way for setting up at a venue is to bring your own router from the office where you have done the setup with, and you don’t have to rely on existing network structure at the venue.
On the top right of the Operator Interface, you will also find some extra features that allow even more foolproofing of the Operator experience. You can set various download options for the VR headsets once they connect to this operator app. Also, you can find some extra options related to simplifying the User Interface. For example, you could leave the Operator App unattended because you can’t download or remove any projects.
Suppose you need to prepare a lot of headsets at once. In that case, it is also possible to sideload both the application and its content from one device to another. You don’t have to start individual downloads for each project on each new headset you connect to the operator app saving a lot of download time and bandwidth and reducing the risk of missing failed downloads. Essentially you only have to prepare the Operator App and one headset and copy the app+content to all other headsets after that. I have written a detailed blog post on how to do this exactly, which you can find in the documentation in the Knowledge Base.
Sleep Mode, Controllers, and Boundaries
Another helpful feature of modern VR headsets is the ability to set the sleep time of your headsets. For Operator, it’s best not to leave it on the standard period since this will put the headset in sleep mode directly after you take it off to preserve battery life. In the same headset setting, you can also find the ability to turn off the controllers if needed. Quest Headsets must be off boundaries mechanisms since this won’t work correctly when you move headsets from one place to another.