What we gain (and divulge) in the new realities

In 2016 the VR NOW Con keynote of Alysha Naples was all about making VR for better human interaction. Make VR pro social, less commercial and anti-isolating, she said. Everybody was moved, everybody agreed. 

This year Ian Forester, CEO of VR Playhouse, hold a similar critical note. While we wonder what we in the new realities, with immersive video and another level of information that will guide us through the world, Ian asked what we divulge.

The keywords here are: #Big Data, #Subconsciousness, #Depth. Scary, isn’t it? In real life that translates into make societies drift away even further apart, with social engineering, manipulated elections, Facebook bubbles and presidential fake news bullshit bingo (I hate the term “fake news”, we use it too often and help the guy who claims to be its inventor).

But we also wanted to show off a little. What is VR capable of right now, why is VR such a great medium, how will it define our entertainment, gaming, storytelling, industry training and information in the near future.

Max Salomon (Black Dot Films VR) and Maria Courtial (Faber Courtial) showed how to produce high quality immersive content for the old media e.g. National Geographic and ZDF. Laura Jeffords Greenberg told us what content is popular on the LittlStar platform.

Dominik Kaeser is the inventor and team lead of Google Earth VR and gave an in depth look into the development process of one of the most popular and smoothest VR experiences you can get right now.

Gabo Arora (Lightshed) talked about using VR for making people empathic, sharing also uncomfortable experiences about wars, crisis and the people suffering from it.

Kristian Costa-Zahn (UFA LAB) and Oliver Schreer (Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute) shared how they are going to start with volumetric video, a major advancement in making films you can actually freely move in.

Marcus Kühne is Audi’s head of VR and has set up more than 100 point of sale experiences for Audi customers who can compile their own cars from scratch, as well as making fun experiences like Audi sandbox.

Our guests from China (Yiming Niu is president of the VRAR Association of China, Rebecca Liu is head of VR Core, China’s biggest association for VR creators) gave insights about the Chinese market, what content is wanted by the consumers, what content is produced by the creators.

Two roundtable discussions concentrated on the American market, especially Hollywood (with Chris Sibley from Phenomenon Media, Andrew van Wyk from River Road Entertainment and, again, the amazing Laura Jeffords) and the trinity of markets in Europe, China and the USA (with Chris Sibley from Phenomenon Media, Drew van Wyk from River Road Entertainment, Sven Bliedung from SLICE and Yiming Niu from VRARA).

Check out the VR NOW Con & Awards 2017 playlist on YouTube to see the talks you missed. 

Photo by Grzegorz Karkoszka  

The best VR NOW Con in the history of Earth

At the closing event of each Olympic Games, the Head of the Olympic Committee traditionally claims: This is the end of the best games ever. Even if they were not. But he has to say it, as a matter of politeness towards the people of the hosting country, and because of self-preservation. 

As it also follows the unwritten rules of capitalism and press announcements: Either grow or die (or you have a very good excuse you’re still alive).

Now I am wondering: Would we do the same? Would we say “Contrary to our better knowledge, this was the best VR NOW Con in history”?

Just to be clear: We are happy to announce that we don’t have to lie. The VR NOW CON & Awards were again successful, which means: more people, more partners, more press, more speakers and more exhibitors on a bigger area.

We were able to welcome over 550 people, we expanded the exhibition area, we had a full pre-event at Audi City Berlin and two workshop a day after the conference. That’s growth. So why do I come up with the Olympics?

As you might have realized for yourself, the competition of conferences and other shows that concentrate on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is very high. Everybody wants a piece of the next big thing when it’s still hot.

And the core crowd that attends events not unlike the VR NOW Con is international and rather picky. Especially in times that are labelled as “trough of disillusionment”.

Looks like we have survived the shallowing attention and excitement about XR for now. But to be honest: I was thinking about the other option as well, about what to say when things don’t turn out too well.

Maybe it’s a German thing, like Angst and Weltschmerz. But it helps with the grounding and, o boy, we are happy now. This is why we again like to thank everyone who was involved in this critical endeavor – foremost the VRBB association and the Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg.

It was the best VR NOW Con & Awards in its two year old history. We’re going to have another (and better) one in 2018.

Photo by Grzegorz Karkoszka