Europe VR Days 2017 – What’s new?

So, for the third time, I went to Amsterdam to check what was going on at Europe VR Days.

The first event in 2015 was great but still small.

The second was really great and evolved a lot from the first time.

This third year was an awesome experience, not only for learning new things but also to know like-minded people that come from all parts of the World to attend the event and share expertises in all VR/AR/MR/XR related areas.

This year, like the previous ones, was separated in:

-Day 1 – Keynote Speakers

-Days 2 & 3 – Expo, meetings, classes, discussions and so on.

The Keynote Day was held at Delamar Teather, for a packed audience.

Zillah Watson was the hostess.

And most keynotes were about what will be the next “great” experience?

VR? AR? MR? XR?

What will make the next great experience something great enough to connect VR-unaware people to VR?

Nobody mentioned the “VR Winter”, but everybody gave hints that things aren’t as fast as predicted in 2015…

The first Keynote was about the next step on Volumetric Video.

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Tim Milliron goes beyond Volumetric Video and present Lytro, from Light Field Technologies.

Since VR is the first really personal media, it makes sense that when we’re there we can relate to what we see and experience in a proper manner. And Lytro is a powerful tool to trick our senses better than regular Volumetric Video.

The obstacles yet to overcome? Higher frame rate, better resolution, and denser light fields.

Check Lytro here –

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After Tim we had Martin de Ronde from Force Field.

He asked – Is VR already in its full potential?

And he answers “no”. The prices are still high, there’s no compelling content, we still need cables to connect and some experiences still cause nausea…

He made some comparisons on 2015 expectations vs. 2017 reality.

2015 – happy analysts with insane projections for selling reports // 2017 – they are skeptical

2015 – an expected revolution in sex, society, music, etc // 2017 – the hype turned negative to keep people paying attention to VR, but there is some realistic news showing the good and bad in VR.

2015 – Investors wanted to put money in VR, but nobody knew what would come out of it // 2017 – dust is settling, a clearer look at what will be good and what already worked.

2015 – creators – happy, full of possibilities // 2017 – some of them not making money and getting away from VR. But there are some people making money yet.

He said that Oculus’ Santa Cruz, the self-contained device from Mr. Zuckerberg will probably be the next VR revolution.

Why? Wireless and cheaper than what we have now.

Makes sense… but he said that money isn’t such a deciding factor. Think of iPhone and regular mobile devices in 2007. iPhone was much expensive than regular mobiles, but it delivered a different and interesting experience, and that’s what people wanted.

Also, he said that Virtual is Virtual. Don’t try to emulate the real world, it will be annoying (contrary to what Tim told about Volumetric Video). The only interesting thing from the real world in VR is the Social presence. Getting your friends there.

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The third presentation of the day was from Samantha Gorman and Daniel Cannizzaro from Tender Claws

They are independent artists in VR and developed PRY and Virtual Virtual Reality, two cool apps with a different approach in VR. They first embraced the constrains.

What VR does well? What doesn’t?

Think of skills, budget, time, tools, etc.

Think how the media can help you make it different, and think how you can make the media different too.

Compare books to ebooks, for example. A simple copy of a book into an ebook doesn’t look good. It is too simple and too obvious. Think of how an ebook can get your message in a different way, what you can benefit from the media to have things done in a better way.

PRY is a good example of this idea –

Constrains makes you think of different things to solve common problems. Maybe enhancing audio when your visuals are weak, add more light experiences on a simple image… that’s up to you.

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Moving on, Stefano Baldassi from Metavision.com told us how AR unleashes the brain.

We’re living now the Digital Renaissance (as in the Renaissance art period) and it is important for us to understand how this impacts in our daily life.

AR will rewire all systems of our brains when we understand that it can change our interaction with the real world around our peripersonal space (the space our hands can reach).

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Jason Toff from Google reinforced what Stefano told, by saying that AR and VR will unleash human “superpowers”. They will change the way we work, play and create.

For creating these “superpowers” experiences we need to focus on this guiding principles:

-Give people superpowers

-Minimise friction (on making the understanding and the interaction as easy as possible)

-Increase the bandwidth of communication (in all aspects)

-Minimize the learning curve to maximize the skill ceiling (first users will understand promptly, old users will still have fun).

-Content over user interface.

Prototyping is really important for all above, and it is impossible to predict what will work. You can be the top theorist of storytelling, games, developing, etc, but when people start using your experiences we cannot know what to expect. Since we put people in different worlds, it is unpredictable how they’ll behave.

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Leen Segers from LucidWeb.io and VR Fund showed some really interesting data regarding VR investors, management, companies and European countries which are leading in the VR business world.

More info HERE.

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Then there was a panel on what’s the state of VR industry right now.

Key points:

-Slow start now (in comparison to the frenzy in 2015)

-All great risks for investments were already made, now things are more solid.

-AR will start to happen in March 2018. Wireless is most important right now. AR first, VR next. But the time for generating content is now.

-Regarding funding – Last year 6 billion dollars were spent in the VR/AR industry. 63% in the US, 19% in Asia and 18% in Europe.

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Michael Gourlay from Microsoft told us about Machine Learning and it’s correlation with VR and AR.

How can machines understand us and how can we understand machines to create better experiences and make something relevant to the audience.

He mentioned DARPA researches and NIH about neural interface Technologies. Hard stuff!

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Boo Aguilar from FlagCX made an inspiring presentation about his personal project “The Blank Canvas” and how he hacks nature into VR, Watson, Blockchain, XR and everything in a way to change subjects and develop researches.

Really interesting, you should go after info about this project to understand more. And Boo is really passionate about what he does, lovely guy.

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Yitian Han showed business opportunities in China, and how China can help VR to develop.

Interesting facts about the chinese market:

-They have the technology

-They don’t have the content

-Only 5% of the population have a passport and can travel abroad, so there’s a compelling need to have good content delivered to the internal market

She is part of the Yuecheng Media Group, which struggled to develop VR Cinemas and Apps in China and now the business is starting to get bigger.

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There were many other presentations, all regarding Content creation, which is the focus right now.

Jeff Burton, Electronic Arts co-founder and chairman of Woodside Creek software, asked for non-violent VR content. He said that the experience of killing something/someone inside a VR game is much more shocking than doing this in regular games.

All of them interesting, all of them pertinent to the VR moment we’re living now, where there are still few people everywhere, being them content creators or users.

The last presentation of the day was, of course, the coolest one.

High Fidelity, a Second Life experiment in VR.

And the presenter was Philip Rosedale himself, the co-creator of Second Life and now co-creator of High Fidelity too.

High Fidelity intends to be what Second Life was, but in Virtual Reality.

Do you know that Second Life still currently has about 20,000 daily visits and generates net revenue of a few billion in 2016?
So, I did not know either…

High Fidelity intends to be SL with real-time interaction, and with this interaction based on the concept and blockchain validations.
Does it seem confusing?
Yes, it is, but what Mr. Rosedale invented now is a new format for buying and selling virtual products with the security of the blockchain, with the ease of a world currency, but without the obstacles in the process of the blockchain, such as the delay in execution of the purchase by delay in the validation of the transaction by the servers.

Very interesting, he even demonstrated live as the whole process works.

Check it:

In a few months, we will have this new form of VR interaction. Multi-player, generating income and traffic to the platform in a way never before seen.

At least they are numbers that Philip believes, as well as Mark Zuckerberg as well.

They say that we will soon have 1 billion people using VR.

Let’s wait and see…

Cheers!

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