Toy Worlds

Cosma Home > 3D Gallery > Toy Worlds

Cosma.org is a directory of some of the best content resources on the web.

Finding and showcasing great resources is the primary goal of this project, but another key goal has always been to provide a fun visual interface to the site. There have been many versions of these created with a variety of platforms over the years (HyperCard, SecondLife, Unity3D etc.). You can find out more about them in the 3D Gallery.

A funny thing happened while doing “previs” for a future version, though.

It turned out that using a Rioch Theta S 360° camera and RoundMe to hack together a demo led to an unexpectedly fun and usable interface. The resulting “Toy Worlds” are now serving as an interface to Cosma.

Here’s a demo of a Toy World. If you can’t see it, check it out on Roundme.

Note: If you have trouble seeing the demo, then try viewing it with a different browser (Chrome seems to work best).

Here is an earlier experiment in making a Toy World that was built in a dollhouse.

If you can’t see it, check it out on Roundme.

Bit of Backstory

I bought a RICOH THETA S 360° awhile ago.

I didn’t want me and/or the house in every shot as I learned to use the camera.

Then I had an idea! Why not use a lamp shade to cover the camera?

I tried that, but the only lamp shades in the house were too little to get a sense of the focal point and resolution in the shots.

There was lamp shade shopping to be done.

That is how I found myself in a Target with a lamp shade on my head checking out the view.


Ooops! 🙂

So, I found the perfect lamp shade and started to learn how to shoot 360° images.
Perfect Lamp Shade

Of course, inside a lamp shade is boring!

That’s why I also grabbed some cheap, silly stuff at Target when I got the lamp shade.

Next I decided to test out the 360° photo sharing service called RoundMe.

It has the ability to add links, so I decided to make something more elaborate to test out the linking capabilities.

Here’s the first “shade world” that I created in order to test links in RoundMe 🙂

It was around this time that I began to realize that a more elaborate version of this approach might work for doing “previs” for some “microworlds” that I plan to make soon.

I began going in that direction with this “microworld” that was my first experiment in using Roundme as a “previs” tool before creating something in a more robust platform like Unity3D.

Then I found this adorable dollhouse in a local antique shop, and I just had to start making some far more elaborate demos!

Notice that in order to get more objects in the dollhouse and provide closure to the space, I built it out with some wooden frames.

The wooden frames turned out be so useful, they clearly took on a life of their own!

So, things went on from there, until now you can explore this “Exploration Center.”

At this point I’ve taken these demos to their natural conclusion as far as making interfaces to this site. My next adventure will involve either moving on to a new 3D/360° platform or going back to using Unity3D for making visual interfaces to this site. You can watch for updates about my progress doing this on the 3D Gallery page of this site.

While I’m not planning on creating any more Toy Worlds for this site, that doesn’t mean that there is no future for them.

I don’t know if you noticed, but Toy Worlds also happen to be a great, newfangled way to do those good old staple projects for elementary school students, dioramas.

I’m hoping that elementary school teachers and anyone who is raising an elementary school kid will not only get a kick out of exploring Toy Worlds@Cosma.org — they might also be inspired to create some of their own!