Virtual reality is not a new idea, yet it has recently enjoyed a resurgence in popularity with video game development. With units like the Occulus or HTC Vive allowing you to strap goggles on your head and take hold of two controllers for your in-game hands, the potential of what could happen has had its doors thrown wide open! So after spending all day at VRLA 2017, let’s take a quick overview of what we saw!
I got there just after the event opened for the day on Saturday. The floor wasn’t supposed to open until noon, yet the doors were open, so I began exploring the expo floor of the West Hall of the LA Convention Center. What I first noticed were the wide aisles and a plethora of open space. Either VRLA is more efficient in its floor plan, or still small enough that the packed-in nature of other cons and expos hasn’t touched them yet. Exhibitors were still setting up, which gave ample opportunity to begin striking up conversations.
My first was with a team we had an appointment with. I spoke with Guy Bendov, CO of Side-kick Games, who had just had the opportunity to work with Lionsgate on a hidden object game based around Now You See Me, this particular title being set in Macau. I was unfortunately told that the game is under embargo until later, so I can’t speak much on the game, but myself and Guy agreed that hidden object games lend themselves very well to mobile VR. Thus far, Side-kick Games has produced many mobile games, so this is a great chance to take that experience and run with it!
Moving along in the event, it became very apparent that VRLA is not a gaming convention, it is a tech expo. Yes, games are very much present and highlighted, but in almost equal parts, for every game you saw being demo’d, there was another group showing uses in either other aspects of gaming, or in other fields entirely. Explore a body in VR for medical training, scope out potential homes in 3D as if you’re in the actual room, or gather information on potential new hires after meeting and interviewing them in a virtual space.
And speaking of gathering information, I spoke to an individual that was working on using VR as the next level of analytics. Tony Bevilacqua, CEO and Founder of Cognitive VR, explained that his company collects data on what users are doing in their virtual space (how they interact with objects, what draws them where, how problems are overcome or not) and they share that data with companies to help them understand how people are experience the product. Cognitive VR takes a very unique space in the emerging VR industry, i’d love to know how their assistance will go on to help understand and improve virtual reality as both a gaming tool and a learning one. Check them out here!
Analytics aren’t the only tool, as others offer a variety of experience enhancing options. VSCRL is a company that offers a library of sound effects, recorded alongside 360
video for a very immersive VR experience, or just as sounds for video game and movie creators to make use of. Whirlwind VR gives feedback while games or videos are being played in the form of wind and temperature. Lost in a frozen tundra? Expect a blast of cold air as the machine’s algorithms read the scene. Lightsabers clashing all around you? Instead experience shorter whiffs of air, warm as they zip past your face. Founder/CEO Timothy Sun expects the units to sell for $100, and only take up a 5x5x8 space on a person’s desk.
Eric and I experienced other games at the expo, but they’ll be getting their own article later. For now, I’ll end by saying it was a huge joy to get to attend VRLA for the first time, both to see us growing as a network, but also to get to see all the various aspects that VR is affecting in the entertainment industry. Its applications are limited only by imagination, from medical training and interior design, to movies and video games! This is the future ladies and gentleman, and god damn does it feel good here!