All posts by VRTO

VRTO2020’s Flotilla Is A VR Conference That Convenes International Thought Leaders To Shape Our Spatialized Future

VRTO explores everything from your digital twin at the office to an immersive world that is accessible by all.

Toronto, ON – Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference & Expo (VRTO), Canada’s premier immersive technologies summit celebrates five years.

If ever there was a time to convene thought leadership around the future of work, virtual presence, and spatialized socialization, that time is now and VRTO is the summit to do it.

The roll-up-your-sleeves-and-sort-it-out symposium will take place on June 6-8 and will explore how these technologies transform the way we engage with data, the world, and each other.

The organization is calling this year’s show “The Flotilla” – alluding to the idea that there isn’t one platform to rule them all, but rather that the answer will come by tethering together different spaces, modalities, and people to do what needs to be done.

VRTO2020 Flotilla

The show will be available on mobile, desktop and in VR to foster social interaction while bringing the thought-provoking presentations and training that VRTO is known for. A key differentiator between VRTO and other conferences that have pivoted online is its aspiration to bridge the terrestrial reality to the extremely active and prolific metaverse that has been flourishing for years via the web and a variety of emerging social VR platforms. Thus the event will take place between several of these spaces, affording a grand tour of the landscape.

From Virtual Humans to the Spatialized Web, Climate and Ecology to the Future of Work, VRTO takes a deep dive into how immersive technology will affect, transform, and advance industries across the board.

“I created VRTO in 2015 to meet an inevitable future where telepresence, platform agnosticism, and accessibility are fundamental to social and economic progress. In 2020, it is clearer than ever before that we need new ways to approach the real and the virtual worlds we now inhabit. The way we process data will necessarily become spatial. The way we manipulate real-world processes will become increasingly complex and remotely piloted,” explains Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Founder and Executive Director, VRTO.

“VRTO is the summit where the people in the trenches come together to exchange these challenges and their solutions in hopes of making meaningful strides towards knowledge that any business, enterprise or individual can understand and adopt for whatever their needs dictate. And sometimes, we have to come at those challenges from unusual and unorthodox perspectives,” continues Malicki-Sanchez.

The future of work means building a true digital face-to-face experience, Elizabeth Bieniek, Director of Innovation, Cisco Collaboration shares her insights on where extended reality developments will change the way we work.

Rose Barasa, Industrial Relations, Strathmore University will discuss how organizations and institutions are applying immersive technologies in Kenya, and how companies can invest and partner with VR initiatives in Africa.

Aditya VishwanathElizabeth Bienek

Featuring an in-depth and interactive summit on Accessibility and inclusion in VR, VRTO will showcase the latest developments in research and design, inclusive storytelling and hardware, and the global movement to create inclusive standards around this technology.

Jonathan Avila, Chief Accessibility Officer, will discuss how Level Access is helping companies make their digital systems readily accessible and enable technology to be an empowering force for those with disabilities.

Focusing on VR solutions for patients, David Parker, Founder & CEO, Wishplay shares learned processes and procedures for providing immersive experiences for those looking to live beyond the limitations of their illness or disability.

Jody Tyree VRTO speakerDave Cardwell SpinVFX

Moisen Mahjoob Nia, OCADU + SMARTlab PhD candidate, presents research on immersive applications that address isolation, mental health, and accessibility issues VRTO 2020 will gather thought leaders from the largest Visual Effects companies in the world who have collectively won multiple Academy Awards, including Asad Manzoor, Lead Unreal Artist, Pixomondo (Star Trek, The Mandalorian), John Canning, Executive Producer for VR, AR, and Interactive, Digital Domain (Marvel’s Avengers Infinity War, Captain Marvel), and Dave Cardwell, Creative Director, SPINVFX (The Lord of the Rings, King Kong).

Applying her deep background in interactive and immersive media as well as distribution, Jody Tyree, Entertainment and Advertising Product Owner for Ford’s Autonomous fleet, explains how she is rethinking the passenger’s in-vehicle experience. No longer do your eyes have to be on the road! Now what?

Christina Heller Kathleen CohenGalit Ariel

Kathleen Cohen, Immersive Strategist, The Collaboratorium will explore virtual beings, digital twins, and the legacy that is your likeness, and Christina Heller, CEO, Metastage will discuss how her Microsoft-partnered capture studios is creating high-resolution volumetric video of some of today’s biggest stars for the next wave of entertainment.

VRTO is your ticket to understanding and designing the very real virtual world we are all inhabiting. We are interested in accessibility, understanding, teaching, learning, and collaboration. Join us at VRTO and upcoming onboarding Meetup events that will prepare you to go down this rabbit hole.

Official conference site: https://conference.virtualreality.to
For tickets, go to https://vrto2020.eventbrite.com/

The Promise, The Power, Perils and Possibilities of Virtual Reality – An Introduction

What is Virtual Reality – “VR” – and Why Should I Care?

Nintendo LABO VR? Facebook Spaces? CNN 360? Now ‘Oculus Quest’ and ‘Valve Index’ – what’s it all mean, Billie Jean?

If you are wondering what all the fuss is about with this thing called VR, but have no real idea what it’s about, this article is for you.

Labo_VR_Kit
Nintendo LABO VR Kit – a poor implementation, but at the very least a broadcast of the idea of Virtual Reality to a wider audience

Who in their life hasn’t, at some point, wished they could fly, or perhaps climb Mount Everest, swim in the great blue hole of Belize, or perhaps explore remote parts of the world unreachable by standard travel?

Or perhaps you wished to become a doctor and wanted to train on your patient’s specific body part many times before you actually faced them, with quivering hands, in the operating room? Perhaps you are a construction worker and want to understand the various design and build stages of a new project long before the first brick or girder has been laid.

Maybe you are far away from your loved ones, friends or co-workers, or possibly a new client, and you have always felt that normal telephone or even video conferencing isn’t quite the same a being in the “presence” of the other. Maybe they are dead and you wish to stand in their presence, one more time. Or many more.

All of these things are possible with the new medium of Virtual Reality.

Seeing is Believing

This medium is one that truly must be experienced first hand in order to fully grasp its power and potential, and to understand why it has become the tech world’s buzz word for the past five years (writing this in 2019, the holy year of Blade Runner), attracting massive investments from Facebook, Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, HTC, Apple, HP, Acer, ASUS, AMD, Nvidia and many more.

What is the difference between “VR” and the media we already know – like radio, television, and even 3D movies?

Inward, Within

Imagine that, instead of simply the width of a widescreen TV, you also extend it vertically. Now imagine that the experience surrounds you completely, on all sides. And when you turn your head or lean forward or back, or lean side to side, the horizon, or the floor, the floor or horizon maintain their position.

Now also imagine that because of this effect things feel as though they have an actual dimension proportional to you. So a table looks and “feels” as though it is in front of you at the correct size and scale. Of course – you could enlarge it or shrink it down if the application allows, but for the sake of my explanation – imagine that it feels correct – a 1:1 size to your own body.

Now imagine that you could walk all the way around that table and that it would maintain its size and position, even while you encircle it. Your brain is fooled very quickly into believing that it might be real.

In fact, it only takes a minute or two, before you have completely become unaware of what is happening outside of the headset you are wearing to experience this.

More Than Meets the Eye

Now, privacy issues aside, imagine that anything could be created or represented inside of such a world – a fully interactive world that can convince your brain, and the vestibular system that helps you keep your internal sense of position, movement and balance, that it is present.

You could, instead of showing children boring pictures of the pyramids at Giza, put them INSIDE of the pyramids, where they could feel the enormity and layout of the these marvelous, ancient tombs.

You could bring the classroom to any city, town, village, forest, mountain, time, in the world or civilization and give them a memory that they could feel as if they were there in person. Using satellite imaging, photogrammetry, volumetric technology, machine learning and computer vision, almost any part of the world can be extruded into a three-dimensional location you can fly through. Some authors have used Google Earth VR to virtually visit the locations they write their novels about, never having set foot in the place, while being so convincing that their friends ask them why they didn’t stop by for tea.

VRTO - Child using VR - photo by Christian Bobak
VRTO – Child using VR – photo by Christian Bobak

With this incredible power to create spatialized, embodied experiences, comes great responsibility of course. Just as we are able to amuse, astound, educate and impress others with the media, we can also wound, terrify, scar and indoctrinate them.

The Problem With Empathy

In the early stages of VR, many wistfully referred to it as an ‘Empathy Machine” – with the positive connotation that it might help us to feel something – perhaps compassion and sympathy, for others in less fortunate positions. Of course, this is a risky assumption to make, for it could just as easily create “empathy” for dark and evil ideologies. Empathy, of course, means to understand another’s situation, feelings, and motives.

VR could be used for real torture, and it could be used to train the next Olympic champions.

Furthermore, though videogames may be full of violence, many academic studies have shown that such acts do not, in fact, have a correlation to real-life acts of violence. In fact, for many, they can serve as a healthy examination of feelings, a way to vent stress and anger, and also learn methods for managing failure and frustration while also building camaraderie.

Out of Body Experience

Does this change, however, when we are inside of an embodied experience? The data would suggest that no, it would not make us more violent, but it might make us more affected by the acts of violence. We may, for example, process every zombie we kill differently in VR than in a traditional TV frame. We may hesitate, before we fire our weapons at people in VR, than we would playing Call of Duty or Borderlands in traditional TV frames.

There is a lot of data that we take in every day that we are not conscious of. Though we see and hear and smell thousands of things every day, our prefrontal lobe only registers some of these data. VR and 360-degree video are similar – by surrounding us with data, we are processing more information than we necessarily register at first. But the body remembers, and so does our subconscious. What experiences will we create the will remain with the receiver, perhaps for a lifetime?

Perhaps more importantly, what could YOU share about YOUR experience? What can we learn, from you? What part of your dream could you transfer, so that others, now or not yet alive, could better understand about the human experience?

After 5 years of rapid iteration, jagged market awareness, failures and successes, in 2019 we have moved from clunky and cumbersome setups to all-in-one, wire-free (“tetherless”), self-contained and motion-tracked VR that can be had for the Facebook-subsidized price of only USD$400.

And yes, a pair of them will empower you and your loved ones to simultaneously experience these worlds in tandem from your living room, without the need of a desktop computer, tripods or other complex setups.

In 2015 I created the FIVARS Festival of International Virtual & Augmented Reality Stories to investigate how this new media could be used to tell stories in new ways. In 2016 I created the VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference & Expo to explore the ethics, best practices and industry that would define these media and advancements for future generations.

I hope you will join me at these events in Toronto this year, 2019, to learn more.

Keram Malicki-Sanchez
Los Angeles, April 30th 2019

VRTO Presents PIMAX’s “VR 2.0 – In Dreams We Live” Canada Exclusive Engagement + Special Talks January 2019

VRTO proudly presents a special event
in partnership with House of VR and the Canadian Film Centre/ideaboost 

PIMAX’s
Exclusive Canadian Engagement

The Pimax “8K” headset was the result of VR’s most successful Kickstarter campaign, beating out all others, including Oculus, with $4.23M raised when the campaign concluded in November 2017. It’s primary claims to fame were its impressively wide FOV, high-resolution panels, and incorporation of SteamVR tracking. ~ RoadToVR

pimax fov

VRTO is back for its first meetup in 2019! Join us for the exclusive launch of Pimax VR in Canada. Coming straight from CES 2019 with a series of new announcements about the direction of their envelope-pushing head-mounted Virtual Reality displays.

Kevin Henderson, Head of US Operations of Pimax VR, will be joining VRTO in Toronto to showcase the latest version of the 5K and 8K headsets at the House of VR in an exclusive for the country. Henderson says:

“As a contributor to VR 2.0, we are closely working with our partners to bring innovation to the industry and finally give VR enthusiasts and gamers what they have been dreaming of”, he continued.

“VRTO is delighted to continue hard to bring international companies together with local producers, developers and startups,” says Keram Malicki-Sanchez, founder and executive director of VRTO. “We are grateful for the faith Pimax have put in us to handle this special event.”

In addition to the demonstrations of the Pimax 8K series and 5K+ head mounted displays (for the first time in Canada), the evening will feature 4 information packed presentations and we will be joined by Kevin Henderson, Head of US Operations from Pimax who will be making a special trip out to our event to meet the community, crowdfunders, potential partners and most importantly content developers for their technology.

An animated GIF of Pimax Users

We have given some of our speakers advance time with the units so that they can report on their discoveries, musings and advice for building content at this resolution, along with insights about how they are pushing the limits with their own ongoing projects.

We will also be offering a special discount off these headsets only at this event for attendees.

Here is the schedule for the evening. As you can see, it is ambitious and we need everyone’s cooperation to maximize the time.

Event Agenda

7pm | Registration (Name Tag Required)
7:15 | Pimax Demos Open
7:45 – 8:00 pm | Opening Remarks – Stephanie Greenall, Michael Hoang (VRTO) – Kevin Henderson, Head of US Operations from Pimax
8:00 – 8:20 pm | Priam Givord, Designer of Small Wonders, the VR Experience
8:30 – 8:50 pm | Gabriela Kim Passos, Creator of Yumi & Boom
8:50 – 9:00 pm | Break
9:00 – 9:15 pm | Blair Renaud, Creator of Technolust, and Technolust 2
9:20 – 9:35 pm | Joanne-Aśka Popińska, Founder of Tribe of Pan
9: 35 – 10: 00 pm | PIMAX Demonstrations and Networking Continue

Thank you to House of VR, our host for the event and to our innovation partner the Canadian Film Centre / ideaboost.

The event is free of charge, as always, thanks to the support of our sponsors, partners and volunteers. Please be aware that there are only 100 initial spots available for the talks and 5 minute demos (with 5-minute turnover) will be on a first come first serve basis from a sign-up sheet onsite.

All guests must register individually–so do not delay in signing up!

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @VRToronto  for social details leading up to and around the event, and please make sure to sign up for our VR industry newsletter for further details and insights.

Signup for this Meetup Now!
https://www.meetup.com/virtualrealityto/events/257626657/

 

Thank you to our event partners!
House-of-VR CFC ideaboost logo

Update:

Here are some photos from the event! We had a terrific turnout and thank everyone who came and worked so hard on this!

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