We are social host VR 101
This week digital agency We Are Social hosted the virtual reality arcade, VR 101.
From computer games to music videos, from body controllers to multi-sensory VR, VR 101 attendees were able to experience the diverse applications of virtual reality and meet those passionate about pushing the medium to its full potential.
Although those who love VR prefer to see the bigger picture, here are the highlights!
VR are you ready?
The computer game Crystal Rift, using Steam’s HTC Vive, was my first stop. I was drawn to the demo space which was a lot larger than the other exhibitors (more room to make a spectacle of myself).
The Vive uses laser position sensors and Steam VR base stations to not only track player position but also enable tracking over a larger distance than being sat in front of your computer.
If you haven’t experienced Crystal Rift, the aim of the game is to escape a dungeon maze and defeat the beasties within it! I was surprised how much the freedom of movement added to the overall VR experience. As I removed my headset and came face to face with reality, a bare white wall, I felt tricked (and also ridiculous for having screamed in a ghost’s face). My brain had to take a moment to adjust to the fact that I wasn’t actually in a dungeon and that there were a queue of people waiting to do far better than my cowardly attempt to escape the maze!
Down the rabbit hole…
Ok, so greater range of movement is one element making VR more immersive. I certainly bought into the Crystal Rift experience on visual and physical levels. But for those wanting more, freedom of movement is only the tip of the immersion iceberg!
The Pretender Project
Unit 9, a production company involved in motion capture, were demoing their prototype body controller, The Pretender Project.
Initially, this technology scared me a little.
The controller, which was strapped to the arm of brave volunteers, was hooked up to a small mystery black box. Said box sent electrical impulses to the controller, the same impulses that the brain sends to muscles to cause body movement (you can guess where this is going…).
The impulses were controlled via mobile phone. If the phone was lifted, so was the volunteers arm, if the phone was rotated, so was the volunteers arm and everyone who tried it was amazed and terrified in equal amounts.
When I asked how the Pretender Project was going to be used in VR, the reply was to enhance immersion by feeling feedback from the virtual world. At its most basic level, the Pretender Project could be used to alert the user to negative input. For example, if they made a mistake in the VR world, the consequence would be a sharp shock from the controller!
VR and AR production company Inition were demoing their multi-sensory VR experience! The experience involves stimulating the users senses of taste and smell. The user is taken through the creation of a ‘sensory cocktail’ being exposed to the scent of each ingredient along the journey. The user is able to take a sip of the cocktail as the experience reaches it’s conclusion.
VRiety is the spice of life…
The potential of VR at VR 101 was running at maximum FPS! Exhibitors displayed applications of VR in computer games, advertising, television and film, education and even social media.
Production company We Make VR demonstrated that VR is being accepted and used by industries outside of technology. With the Samsung Gear VR platform, they demonstrated how Tommy Hilfiger and Afrojack music festival were just a couple of their clients using VR to promote their brand and services.
VR 360 Video
If VR 360 video is the future of cinema I’m ready! VRSE Works focus on the creation of VR 360 film and video. They came equipped with a number of demos including varied documentaries and a music video by U2 and director Chris Milk.
The range of immersive content was overwhelming but having never experienced VR 360 video before I went with what I love – horror films! In VRSE Works horror short, Catatonic, you find yourself strapped into a wheelchair and wheeled through the unsettling sights that haunt the corridors of an asylum.
By the end of the experience, my bravado was at rock bottom! As my headset was removed I realised I had been clutching the Samsung Gear VR in an attempt to cover my eyes! That is what VR is all about! I loved it!
The recent release of the Oculus’s social platform on Samsung Gear VR makes the concept of social VR a reality. My initial reaction is that my friends are already tired of me posting videos of my cat on social media. I imagine me posting 360 VR videos of my cat would do me no favours…
But with VR becoming accessible to the masses through mobile phones, communication platforms could benefit from elements of social VR.
The concept of VR is not a new one, having been revisited a number of times over the past few decades.
Even though I’ve said VR a record number of times in this blog post, it certainly won’t be the last time you hear it. VR 101 showed that VR, in its many forms, is here and it wants to stay!
With the diverse applications of VR, the VR platforms in development and the big names backing the VR revolution, the future of VR certainly looks to be a promising one.
Catatonic Image taken from http://www.psfk.com/2015/04/glop-containers-food-containers-berta-julia-sala.html
Huge thank you to Elizabeth Mercuri for checking out VR 101 and this awesome blog. Follow her on Twitter @FragFox