ArcGIS 360 VR Quick Start Guide

Document created by SArisona-esristaff Employee on Mar 20, 2019Last modified by SArisona-esristaff Employee on Aug 14, 2019
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The ArcGIS 360 VR App is a VR application to view CityEngine 360 VR experiences on Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR headsets. This document describes how to install, set up and use the app.


Note: This guide refers to the most recent release available in the Oculus store (ArcGIS 360 VR App 1.05). Release notes are provided at the end of this document.



In order to use the ArcGIS 360 VR App, you will either need an Oculus Go or a Samsung Gear VR headset.


Installing the ArcGIS 360 VR App


Step 1: Join Esri Labs

The ArcGIS 360 VR App is available from the Oculus store after you redeem a promo code only. To get a promo code, you first need to join Esri Labs: Head to and select ArcGIS 360 VR, from where you can sign in or create an account if you don't have one yet. After signing in to the Esri Labs ArcGIS 360 VR page, we will send you an email containing the promo code(s). Note that this might take a day or two.


Step 2: Redeem a Promo Code for your Oculus Go / Samsung Gear VR

In order to install the app on your VR device, you need to redeem the promo code you received by email as described here:


Step 3: Locate the App in your Oculus Library

Once the code is redeemed, your app will show up in the Oculus Library on your device. It is now ready to be used.


Using the ArcGIS 360 VR App


In App Navigation

To navigate in the ArcGIS 360 VR app, the Oculus Go controller, and the Gear VR controller and touchpad are supported. The controller needs to be paired before starting the app. Touchpad controls are on the right side of your Gear VR device.

To select items, either use the Oculus Go or Gear VR controller, or (for the Gear VR without controller) by moving the head to position the reticle and tapping the touchpad.


Navigation and Controls within the App

  • Toggle menu: Tap.
  • Select object: Tap (selectable objects show a filled cursor).
  • Next / previous view: Swipe forward / backward.
  • Next / previous scenario: Swipe down / up.
  • Leave app: Press back button.


Main Menu Controls

  • Reorient menu: Tap onto an empty spot.
  • Select object: Tap (selectable objects show a filled cursor).
  • Scroll list: Swipe forward.
  • Leave menu: Press back button.


Searching for 360 VR Experiences

360 VR experiences are grouped into four categories:

  • Featured: Examples curated by Esri.
  • My Content: Experiences linked to the preset ArcGIS Online / Portal user (see App Settings below)
  • All Public: All public 360 VR experiences
  • Saved: Experiences previously opened on your device.

By tapping onto the search bar, a virtual keyboard appears. This allows you to find specific 360 VR experiences on ArcGIS Online / Portal. Search results are the same as in the ArcGIS online search. Browse the results by swiping over the panel.


App Settings

The settings menu can be reached from the main screen by a tap on the cog wheel icon in the bottom row.

Limit Mobile Data Usage

Downloading 360 VR experiences may lead to a lot of network traffic. To use Wi-Fi only, uncheck "Cell Data Usage".


Portal for ArcGIS Connection Setup

By default, ArcGIS 360 VR connects to ArcGIS online. In case you have published your 360 VR experiences to an ArcGIS Enterprise Portal, the URL of the portals rest API can be entered via the virtual keyboard. Note: if you are using an ArcGIS Enterprise Portal, authentication is not supported, i.e. .3wr resources need to be publicly accessible (or accessible in a private network only).


Set ArcGIS Online User

To view the content of a specific user, you can enter a user name (case sensitive) in the app settings. For viewing public 360 VR experiences no password authentication is needed. After a user name is set, the “My Content” section in the main menu gets populated with the user’s public content.


Configure Settings on the Device

Alternatively to the settings dialog, you can also configure the app on the device itself. In order to do this, directly edit the file "config.json" located in "/Android/data/com.esri.ArcGIS_360_VR/files/" on your device.


Release Notes


ArcGIS 360 VR 1.05 (February 2019)

  • Support for Oculus Go
  • UI enhancements
  • Bug fix: Portal connection issues
  • Bug fix: CityEngine export out of memory issues (CityEngine 2019.0)
  • Bug fix: CityEngine export visibility issues with multiple scenarios (CityEngine 2019.0)


ArcGIS 360 VR 1.03 (July 2017)

  • Support for CityEngine urban design scenarios
  • Bug fixes


ArcGIS 360 VR 1.0 (December 2016)

  • Initial release




Is ArcGIS 360 VR available for other VR platforms such as the Rift, Vive, Daydream or Cardboard?

Currently, the app is only available for Oculus Go and Samsung Gear VR. Support for other mobile VR platforms is under consideration. Room-scale VR platforms such as the Rift or Vive aren’t part of the 360 VR technology, see 6DOF VR for explanation.


What is the advantage of a mobile VR solution over room-scale VR solutions?

Mobile VR solutions only require a simple smartphone paired with an affordable wireless headset to be immersed in an ArcGIS 360 VR experience. Whereas, room-scale solutions rely on high-performance graphic computers and cumbersome wired VR accessories.


Can I also use ArcGIS 360 VR in offline mode?

Yes. After a 360 VR Experience has been viewed on a connected mobile device, it also becomes available when your mobile device is offline.


Can I walk around in 360 VR experiences?

No. It is like “street view” where you can just look around from a static viewpoint and teleport to another panorama. Note: Mobile VR headsets (1) don’t support room-scale VR where motion would be detected; (2) often cause motion sickness if used with an X-box controller to move around in VR; and (3) are preferred by architects and urban designers because static viewpoints curate the experience better.


Can I teleport from my current viewpoint to the next viewpoint by just looking at it?

Yes. You can either use the camera symbols in the 3D scene or the control menu with thumbnails. Both patterns are easy to use and intuitive.


Why should I create a VR experience where I can’t walk around?

Simplicity. Creating a 6DOF (6 degrees of freedom) VR experience is still a complicated task requiring expert knowledge with 3D tools, data simplification and optimization, real-time rendering or game engines, and graphics hardware. One of the main inspirations behind ArcGIS 360 VR was to create a one-click-publish-to-VR user experience for 3D scenes.


Is Esri working on VR solutions where I can walk around?

Yes, the CityEngine VR Experience for Unreal Studio is available from the Unreal Marketplace supports the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift and provides a full premium VR experience.


This solution isn’t stereoscopic, is this a problem?

No. Most users don’t notice the difference because depth perception research has shown that the ability to judge depth decreases with distance. In our application, the most prominent object in front of the viewer is the control panel – which is in stereoscopic 3D. This single 3D element alone can trick the brain into thinking that the whole panorama is in stereo. Additionally, because the view point doesn’t change, one of the most prominent depth cues, the parallax effect, doesn’t actually take effect. Therefore, in the 360-imagery-based VR case, stereo doesn’t contribute to the immersion as much as expected. Nonetheless, we will improve the depth perception in future versions.


Is 3VR a new format introduced by Esri?

Yes. We are introducing the new format 3VR (360 VR Experience) because, unfortunately, nothing exists yet that supports a set of panoramas and scenario management. It is basically a zip archive that contains a JSON and JPEG images. Note: Currently only standardized cube maps are supported. Other panorama types will be supported in the future.


Can I look at 3VR files with only a VR headset?

Yes. We are working on supporting other platforms such as the mobile devices and browsers. However, the primary use case for 3VR are VR applications.


Could 3VRs also include panoramic photos?

Yes. We are working on an authoring workflow for this use.


Is CityEngine the only tool that can publish 3VRs?

Yes. Currently, CityEngine is the only tool. Due to the simplicity of the format (only cube maps are required to be rendered) it might be implemented in other tools as well in the future.

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