Virtual Reality Day 2018 #VRDay

VR Day

It was Virtual Reality Day on Saturday 17th November 2018.  People from all across the globe organised, facilitated or participated in events both in the real and virtual worlds.  The purpose is to promote VR, allow people to try it for the 1st time for free, share specialist knowledge or topics or perhaps even sell your VR products for half price – all to help raise awareness and adoption in the industry.  Activities and events took place across 74 cities – check out VR Voice for the details!  I didn’t plan anything in Scotland and sadly neither did any of my other country-people (that I knew about anyway).  However, all was not lost as an amazing gentleman of the name Bob Fine organised a Social VR agenda for everyone to take part in the metaverse!  Collaboration between AltSpaceVR and High Fidelity platforms meant that there was an action packed agenda for everyone that lasted 24 hours in some cases!

VR Day Schedule Alt

It was a day of 1st’s.  We had the first single dropped into VR (Miro Shot), the first live performance Futvre Lands thanks to Thomas Dolby via High Fidelity, it was the 1st time I personally entered High Fidelity (despite registering for the most number of people in VR events previously), the 1st time I observed collaboration between Social VR platforms and not only that – my personal favourite – the 1st time that I witnessed jumping into a portal between VR Worlds thanks to an amazing space that I will cover later.  It may have been the 1st time for some to be ‘in’ Virtual Reality too.  It may have been the 1st VR Day celebrations for some too.  It may have been the 1st time for some to meet their VR role models or members of the community.  One thing we know for sure is that it will not be the last!  The only way is up from here.  We will see more becoming involved, more collaboration, more advancements and more of a people movement!

AltSpaceVR had an agenda of talks from pioneers in the industry covering a range of topics.  People like Alan Smithson, Cathy Hackl, Steve Bambury and Chris Madsen who are a few of my personal faves who were there alongside a heap of others!  I can’t share anything specific here as I had log on and charging issues with my headset and missed a lot of the talks 😦  I did encounter a few technical issues when using the Oculus Go in AltSpaceVR and found myself kicked out of the platform a number of times throughout the day.  I wanted to try to use my Mirage Solo headset whilst waiting for my Go to charge but had password issues and still waiting on my password prompt email to arrive.  But once I was charged up I was able to enjoy Miro Shot’s single, Futvre Lands with Thomas Dolby and The Hive After Party with Vivian.

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After taking the pictures above of Philip Rosedale (Founder of High Fidelity and Second Life) and hearing Thomas Dolby playing I decided to take the leap into High Fidelity via desktop for a while to try it out and join the party!  It was a good excuse to come out of the headset and rest my eyes for a little bit too…  I was a complete newb and couldn’t see where I had to go and felt a little lost.  Turns out there were a few issues with some folks seeing white orbs instead of avatars.  My experience on the desktop was that I didn’t see anybody at all until I was literally walking into them.  I felt a little embarrassed that I wasn’t adhering to personal space rules and tried to come away only to bump into someone else as the place was mobbed lol!  So massive apologies if I accidentally walked in, through or over you!!!  I feel that using an HMD (headset) would be an amazing experience for High Fidelity and I would like to try that next time I visit.  I’m just a graphics card away from that being possible so hopefully that will be remedied over the next couple of months 🙂  Below is how things should have looked and did look for other attendees:

Next I jumped back into the Oculus Go (now that it had another charge) and straight in to AltSpaceVR for The Hive After Party with Vivian Chazen.  VR Apps that were showcased and demonstrated were Anyland, Big Breezy Boat, OrbusVR, Onward, Somnium Space, and VR Chat.  The app that I mentioned earlier that had the portal to the various Social VR spaces was Somnium.  I had never heard of it before and it looked amazing!  Vivian was able to jump from there to AltSpaceVR and VR Chat I believe.  Sadly I was kicked out again and decided enough was enough for one night given it was the early hours of the morning.  However, you can join me and watch the replay to get caught back up again.

#VRDay 2018 was a blast!  It would be amazing to hear about your experiences, what did you do this year? Has it inspired you to take on a new VR goal of any kind?  Let us know!  My VR Day 2018 takeaway is to organise an event in Scotland for next year.  Don’t worry, I’ll still be virtual world space hopping but it is important to be inclusive and accessible so that everyone has the equal opportunity to find out what all the fuss is about 😀

Virtual Reality Day 2018

Special shout out and well done to Bob Fine, VR Voice, AltSpaceVR, High Fidelity, Miro Shot and Thomas Dolby (and the many others who contributed behind the scenes to make VR Day 2018 a success).

Special shout out and well done to Mike McCready (Lethbridge College) and Kathy Bisbee (publicVR Lab and Northampton Film Festival) for their real world efforts and everyone else who made the effort for real world activities across our planet.

Special shout out to VR livestreamers: Official VR Girl, Nathie, UK Rifter, VoodooDE VR, JadeKVR and everyone else in this space and thanks for all of your efforts every. single. day.

And finally to everyone else who either did something on VR Day or continues to all year round, well done and keep going!  You are amazing and we need you!

What an amazing team of pioneers you all are!

Dextra’s Global VR Summit

Dextra

The World’s 1st Global VR Summit took place during  27th – 30th October 2018 thanks to Dextra.  It was an online & virtual reality conference with the purpose of hearing from VR pioneers and professionals.  The ability to access via desktop, tablet, mobile or VR headset so there was no need to travel.  The virtual reality platform used was AltSpaceVR (I first introduced you to AltSpaceVR at the beginning of this year in my 1st ever blog post re WXR’s Pitching event in VR).  As a result of using this social VR platform, you could network, chat and mingle with both presenters and attendees.  You had the immersive experience of being at a traditional conference but with additional benefits such as your convenience and for a mere fraction of the costs normally associated with attending prestige events.

The speakers were the perfect balance between industry, software, hardware and specialists.  We heard amazing insights from thought leaders and futurists.  Listened to pioneers stories of hard work and determination to play their part in growing the XR (includes Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Realities) landscape.  Professionals from industry and cross industries making the atmosphere all the more heightened for collaborative innovative brilliance.  I cannot stress the sparks that are flowing in this space thanks to the energetic, thoughtful and determined community.  Any event that brings these pockets of amazing individuals together like this is sure to explode into something spectacular!  Especially when you focus on having an inclusive environment that allows folks to attend regardless of geographical location or financial circumstances.

The list of speakers are as follows:
Vinay Narayan / VP, Product and Strategy / HTC Vive
Jonathan Nafarrete /
Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief / VRScout
Colleen Flanigan / VR Artist in Residence / Google
Ted Schilowitz / Futurist / Paramount Pictures
Dominic Eskofier / Head of VR, EMEAI / NVIDIA
Collin Bradford Bishop / Senior Product Manager / Crytek
John Bucher / Writer/Producer, Cultural Mythologist / Sideshow Media Group
Jim Malcolm / General Manager / HumanEyes
Marisa Erven / Art Director / Hyperspace XR
Gregg Katano / Partner & VP of US Operations / Hologate
Mike McCready / Instructor / Lethbridge College
Jeremy Casper / Co-Director / Los Angeles Film Studies Center
Dr. Sana Farid / Co-Founder / Munfarid
Devora Mason / Program Director / The Hive Accelerator
Daniel Sproll / CXO & Co-founder / realities.io
Saswat Panda / Co-Founder & CTO / LiveLike
Jérémie Lasnier / Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer / LiveLike
Ryan Atkins / Producer / Shake-N-Bake Productions
Paul Chambers / Artist Evangelist / Sketchfab
Alice Bonasio / Editor-in-Chief / Tech Trends
Ulla Engeström / Founder & CEO / ThingLink
Valeriy Kondruk / CEO / Ascape VR
Suzanne Lee / Founder / Pivotal Reality
David Jagneaux / Games Editor / UploadVR
James McCrae / Founder & CEO / JanusVR
Dr. Gijs JD van Acker / Co-Founder / MDLinking.com
Clément Merville / President / Manzalab
Luis Paolino / Art Director / Gree VR Studio
Matouš Tlapák / Chief Operating Officer / Lifeliqe
Dr. Marsha Maxwell / Educator & Researcher / Atlanta International School
Steve Bowler / President / Cloudgate Studio
Sami Ramly / Entrepreneur-In-Residence / Outpost Capital
Sandy Hammer / Co-Founder / AllSeated
Cathy Hackl / Futurist / You Are Here
John Kuruvilla / Co-Founder & CRO / Kalpnik
Scott Bennett / VR Artist / Scobot

The Global VR Summit Highlights:
6 live panel discussions
Q&A sessions
5 hours of interactive on demand content
40 VR speakers
24 VR companies
15 countries (I’m delighted to have represented Scotland!)

Still not too sure what a VR conference looks like?  Then check out Dextra’s post event highlights video below:

This may be the 1st Global VR Summit but I am pretty confident that Dextra will continue to bring this to us annually so hopefully see you there next year!!

The World’s 1st Full Day VR/AR Conference held in VR – Merging Realities

 

Conference Flyer

What was Merging Realities?
Merging Realities was the world’s first full-day conference that you could attend in virtual reality and took place on April 26th 2018.  It was hosted by Mike McCready and students from Lethbridge College based in Canada and made possible by Doghead Simulations‘ Rumii platform based in Seattle, Washington.  I had booked my ticket well in advance as this was a big deal and I didn’t want to miss it!  I’m based in Scotland and can only usually stalk event hashtags to learn about event outputs that are impossible for me to attend geographically speaking.  The topic of this event just so happened to be all things virtual, augmented and mixed reality too.  Winner!  You also didn’t need to be the owner of a VR headset to attend as there was a WebVR version you could enter using desktop.  Or there was the Twitch channel you could enter and simply ‘observe’ the event as it was being streamed live across the world.  I used a combination of desktop for the VR event and mobile to watch the livestream.   First thing’s first, had to register for Rumii and create my Avatar:

Why a conference in VR?
The event itself started late in the afternoon (UK time) so it meant I could attend at my leisure after work.  In fact it was ideal!  I was able to be there, explore, listen, learn and network.  I saw some pretty cool role models ‘in the flesh’ instead of being static pictures on social media platforms.  Then I was able to log out, pick up my kids, make dinner and complete some chores then log back in to the conference again.  It was flexible enough to allow you to come and go as required meaning I didn’t disrupt any sessions.  It complimented my life and time commitments without the need of booking travel, accommodation or hassle arranging childcare.  I wasn’t tired from travelling, didn’t need to adjust to the different timezone or stress about pre-planning my route to get to the venue on time.  I just logged in and I was in the venue and simply logged out when I had to leave again.  Simple as that.  #welcometothefuture

 

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The Venue
There was plenty of room for us all in the main conference areas – we had a choice of Lecture Hall A or Lecture Hall B (2 talks were happening at any one time).  We weren’t able to see who was talking or the theme of the talk using the menu though.  It didn’t cause any issues as you simply selected your choice of room and instantly teleported there.  If you changed your mind you could teleport to the other just as easy by using the main menu.  There was a sound alert when people entered/left a room though so I did feel a little embarrassed in case I put any presenters off by causing that distraction.  But to be honest, as a participant, you barely noticed it at all.  In fact it was quite an upbeat catchy jingle.  I actually grew fond of hearing it!  In addition to the 2 main conference halls you had 3 separate meeting rooms each for a specific theme (Health, Education and Business) and a Lobby.  As a fan of Social VR I felt the scale to be impressive, the atmosphere to be relaxing and the graphical detail to be realistic enough for me to settle into my new environment quite quickly.

What did we hear about?
The first session was Immersive Computing at Google presented by Alex Katzen.  It was interesting to hear Google’s take on the changing digital landscape.  I was very impressed and inspired the more I listened during the session.  Previously I knew Google were involved with Daydream but didn’t really appreciate just how involved they were elsewhere.  Alex unveiled the Google & Lenovo Solo Mirage VR Headset too.  We heard about their partner’s, their involvement, their propositions and Google’s vision for the future.  Overall it was an excellent presentation, full of insight that I would have not been able to get had I not been at this specific conference.  I was already loving conferences in VR – I knew I would but this was over and above my expectations.  Not bad for only the first session… We had a full day of knowledge sharing left to soak up!

 

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Meeting role models
Next up was Alan Smithson from MetaVRse who is an absolute role model of mine.  If you are interested in VR and AR then I recommend you follow his LinkedIn posts.  This would be my first time seeing Alan deliver a conference talk and I was mega excited about hearing what he had to say.  His company MetaVRse is working in all sorts of interesting avenues meaning he has plenty of interesting stories to share with us.  Alan’s talk did not disappoint.  He not only brought amazing insight, inspiration and encouragement to the audience but he also brought with him humor.  He expressed his love for the ability to throw confetti in the air using the Rumii platform and got clarification on how people could do it.  (Only desktop users were able to by pressing the spacebar).  Then we all had a lark about throwing confetti lol!  It was so refreshing to see someone delivering a session and having fun with the technology as he did.  This is what it is all about!  He gets it.  He wasn’t a white collared business man selling us a pitch.  Alan was messing around with the functions that Rumii offered, he popped a spaceman into the audience to demonstrate 3D models.  It was floating around us, a giant spaceman!  The famous MetaVRse watch also made a 3D model appearance.  He shared market trends, important numbers and even shared how he personally continually learns about this technology sector and from which resources too.  For the finale of Alan’s talk he played us some Virtual Insanity music that we all throw confetti to.  It was marvelous.  The energy was through the roof.  I ask you – have you ever thrown confetti at the end of hearing a world class presentation during a conference in the real world?  

(Video provided my Neil Singh – thanks again for the permission to publish it in this blog)

Break
Sadly this was when I hit my break from the conference so I could turn back to my family and home duties for a while.  My avatar was able to stay in the conference but I had changed my status to ‘away’ meaning I wasn’t visible to anybody there.  Thanks to twitch, I was secretly watching whilst washing my dishes though ;o)  I sadly missed  Steve Bambury’s session, which was another I was looking forward to attending in advance.  (I have since been informed that Twitch have kept videos of the conference that you can still watch.  I will post the link in the comments of this blog for you).

Merging Realities desktop and mobile

Mesmerised by Immersion
The following sessions covered a mixture of design, technical detail and engagement.  We listened to insights and saw more 3D models that are being used commercially.  Listening to the various AR and VR examples proved to me that there are people out there making this technology work for them using profitably business models.  I would have liked to have heard more about that subject.  How are creatives making money in this industry not as one offs but by producing consistent revenue?  It is a common question in the field and one that nobody seems to want to share their detailed answers to.  (This is not aimed specifically at any of the presenters who showcased their work during their Merging Realities talks, just a general observation and a personal frustration).

The presenters I listened to were:
Immersion/Engagement presented by Connor Gottfried
Challenges & Opportunities of a VR game startup presented by Lloyd Summers
Inclusion presented by Rosalina Hernandez

 

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Looking to the Future
Next up was the magnificent futurist Cathy Hackl to share some forward thinking thoughts.  She shared some amazing video clips, as well as some current use case studies along with stories of the future world.  Having heard many a person claim to be a futurist cover old ground on what has been previously said I wasn’t sure that I was going to hear anything that I hadn’t heard already on this topic.  But I was wrong.  Cathy blew my mind.  She didn’t just blow my mind with a one off little golden nugget of intel.  She had me hanging on every single word.  I’ve taken notes to revisit pretty much all of the examples she shared to gain better understanding for myself.  I want to be able to digest and reflect on the use cases and explanations of spatial computing that she shared with us.  So if like me, you don’t want to miss any fascinating industry use case then follow Cathy on social media. (As well as subscribe to this blog obviously… shining the light on user case studies is the purpose of the Suzanne Showcasing VR blog afterall!).  Cathy was asked plenty of questions and did a tremendous job to close the amazing full day VRAR conference in VR.  What a blast!!!

merging realities stats

Conclusion
In summary we heard from highly respectable individuals from the VR AR industry.  We heard about content creation, designing, coding, modelling, engagement, platforms, headsets, partnerships, user experience, user engagement, market trends, self development & learning, challenges & opportunities, inclusion and preparing ourselves for the future.  We met with like-minded people from all across our wonderful planet and I am proud to have represented Scotland.  I love the map above that shows where everyone was attending from.  A real mixture of people, all with the same common interests.  It was absolutely superb!  Let’s do it all again next year!  Hopefully see you there next time 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to read through this article and share the experience of the World’s first full-day conference in VR.  In the words of Alan Smithson, ‘Awesome guys, thank you so much.  Have a good one.  Bye guys.  Thank you’.

 

(For those of you interested, I will post Neil Singh’s blog that covers the full account of the conference to help fill in the gaps that I didn’t manage to cover with my own experience.  I’ll also post a link to the Twitch account for Merging Realities so you can see if for yourself too).

Until next time my friends!
Suzanne Showcasing VR