The Learning Path: a November recap of Boston’s Virtual Reality Scene – Part 2

In Part 1 of the November Boston Virtual Reality Meetup recap, we were introduced to the concept of the Learning Path, or how topics can be organized to benefit the learner as they pursue their subject. Here in the Boston/Cambridge area, the Virtual Reality Meetup is an invaluable resource for those of us interested in how the industry is evolving, and provides an equivalent every time it convenes. November was no exception as attendees were able to watch presentations and demo tech from companies and groups offering tools and technology across the immersion spectrum. If we were at the threshold of immersive tech in Part 1, we dove in with a vengeance in Part 2.

After missing out during October’s Meetup, I was finally able to demo Archean Worldbuilder. A friend once remarked that VR adoption will lag for one key reason: a user’s sense of security. Specifically, he’d never feel comfortable navigating a realm with undetectable real-world boundaries. Worldbuilder surmounts this obstacle by creating a virtual CAVE and mapping out the user’s physical environment, then replicating those boundaries as vertical grids which emerge as the user approaches. Imagine wearing headgear and moving around a room without any fear of collision and you get an idea of the surprisingly liberating sensation one experiences while using the combination wand-style joystick/pallet to select and build structures within Worldbuilder. With additional products in the pipeline including Sandbox, a “standalone creation game,” and Pro, an “upcoming Unity extension which will let game developers use Archean Worldbuilder’s tools directly (in Unity),” it will be interesting to watch Archean continue to augment its virtual engineering environment (and see how their Kicktstarter campaign unfolds).

Next, an engineering team from local talent pipeline Becker College demoed an immersive environment with their games, Astral Horizon and Labyrinth. I was able to demo the former and the experience was satisfying: fully immersive with great graphics, resolution, and challenges, and no hint of motion sickness (and I’m not just praising the experience because I became the first person to conquer Level 1. Which I did, thank you very much). Imagine a fully-immersive version of the old-school arcade classic Asteroids – only this time, you’re piloting the ship – and you get the idea. If gaming is your forte definitely look for future releases.

XiMMERSE concluded the evening’s learning path by tying together most of the aforementioned components. Mike Bailey, Chief Revenue Officer of the Guangzhou, China-based company, walked us through his belief in the primacy of mobile virtual reality, the combined power of the interchangeable suite of X-Devices (including a stereo camera, lithium powered joystick, haptic glove, body orientation detection device, head mounted display, and standalone IMU, or Inertial Measurement Unity sensor) and XiMMERSE’s proprietary tracking algorithm, which claims 100% tracking accuracy.

Matthew Cooney is principal product marketing manager in Education Services for EMC. His professional background includes over 15 years of combined social media, direct, and digital marketing management experience, project management, search engine marketing and optimization (both organic and PPC), and events and communications management.

You can follow Matthew on Twitter @matthewcooney.