VR enthusiasts and exhibitors collectively flocked to the LA Convention Center on Friday and Saturday, May 4th and 5th for VRLA 2018. This year’s unifying concept was a new reality, and it totally delivered. Walking onto the convention floor, I stepped into the physical manifestation of the metaverse, or where I’d spend 2 days experiencing a technological buffet of innovations and spent time connecting with the VR industry’s most influential game changers. Here’s a bit of what I experienced at VRLA…
The Present-Future of VR
VRLA’s keynote speakers discussed the current wave of technologies that the industry is working with and is striving to improve on. Reps from The Void talked about interactivity and how haptics and VR plays and immerses the senses and how creating social experiences will drive interest through emotional connection. Their Ghostbusters and Star Wars experiences are definitely something to step into if you want to immerse yourself in a cinematic quality virtual world.
Hugo Swart, Qualcomm’s Senior Director, discussed the future of XR glasses and how he sees the industry’s advancements as a collective race that’s more of a marathon instead of a sprint to the finish line. He spoke about the way in which we view our industry and how long-term endurance is needed for developing AR and XR glasses that don’t block out the world around the wearer, but rather connect the wearer to the world around them in ways that can affect healthcare, business, education, and consumer experiences.
VRLA Game Changers
Intel, Survios, and the Smithsonian
Intel was top supporter and game changer at VRLA, most notably partnering with Survios for Creed: Rise to Glory and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM). I came to an early conclusion that Intel isn’t just powering the virtual reality industry they are empowering both our bodies and minds to unlock their full potential.
On day 1, I beelined for Intel’s booth where I jumped in the ring and trained with Rocky Balboa in Creed: Rise to Glory and then boxed, weaved, and got virtually punched out of my body and then race back to it with Survios’ phantom melee technology. Survios and Intel’s tech was lightning fast and their images were super crisp, making my time in the ring as Adonis Creed a thrilling game that not only left me sweaty, it left me feeling empowered and ready to experience VRLA in all its glory.
On day 2, the amazing reps at Intel showed me No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man, a virtual art and education exhibit where attendees could see art pieces that have been showcased at Burning Man in Black Rock City, Nevada via Sansar’s social VR platform. As I walked around and under the “Paper Arch” (my favorite piece) and got a good look at various art installments in fine detail through their Windows Mixed Reality headset, I listened to a super knowledgeable Smithsonian art rep discuss the history of the piece through headphones and quickly realized what the classroom of the future will look like.
There is no doubt in my mind that Intel’s technology and forward-thinking partnerships are paving the way towards extending education to people who can’t otherwise gain access to it due to socio-economic factors or because instructors and their students are halfway around the world. Intel and Sansar’s classroom of the future has huge potential for teaching the future leaders of fitness, nutrition, mental health, and higher education in a hands-on way that can reach anyone with a VR headset. Intel did an amazing job showcasing the true potential of VR by tapping into the human need to explore and learn, to solve problems together as a collective, and ways we can bring our bodies and minds together as one.
Hygiene in VR, AR, and XR is a huge deal when it comes to cleansing one or even thousands of headsets in a day. Cleanbox partnered with Intel and Survios to not only sterilize their equipment, but to show exhibitors and attendees that hygiene can be achieved with UV-C light found in hospitals, can kill 99% of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and doesn’t involve using cleaners that can seep into and destroy the display tech. Cleanbox is a great option for VR businesses and arcades that need a top-tier hygiene solution that will also dry the sweat off the headsets for customers to continue game time without a hitch.
SEGA’s Space Channel 5
SEGA’s Space Channel 5 VR (SC5) and Grounding Inc.’s team hooked me up with Vive trackers around my hands that replaced the Vive wands for their rhythm and dancing game. My body appeared as a cosmic dancer as I was transported to another world where I mirrored the upbeat and energetic space host Ulala as she showed me how to pose, juke, sidestep and lunge to the music. Learning new dance moves in SC5 wasn’t the only activity that kept me moving, I also had to keep up with said dance moves in order to shoot lasers out of my hands.
Space Channel 5 VR did a good job of raising my heart rate; because one, I’m not the best dancer in the world, and two, the game kept my arms moving and had me breaking it down low for the entirety of the 20-minute demo! I was pleasantly surprised that Space Channel 5’s intergalactic dance party and gaming objectives quickly helped me forget about the onlookers in line, by immersing me in funky dance moves lasers to take on a glob boss in the demo’s finale.
Watch Space Channel 5 VR gameplay at VRLA via Hoomans on YouTube!
Neurogaming and Exit Reality
Neurogaming and Exit Reality are companies you should keep on the virtual radar. The fresh partnership demoed their free roam and full body tracking technology at VRLA. Alexey Morozov, Chief Marketing Officer for Neurogaming, gave us the details on their Polygon VR wireless demo saying, “It’s the telepresent multiplayer for people in a multitude of locations connected in one seamless virtual environment, so we actually have people down here in LA playing with people in New York, with people in Amsterdam, and in Moscow right now.”
Neurogaming’s broadcast interface allows users to edit video, stream on Twitch and YouTube. There’s also second screen support where players in the VR environment can get help from people looking at a TV or monitor. PolygonVR prototype games support player vs environment, PvP gaming experiences, and their PlayVR system is an easily scalable location-based entertainment solution for VR arcades, is cloud-based, can manage tickets, content user stats, and loyalty program with one interface.
I personally didn’t get a chance to try the wireless tracking but was watching groups play their prototype team FPS game with VR stock wirelessly and witnessed, as Alexey mentioned to me, that “their body is the controller.” Attendees demoed World of Tanks, a hugely popular MMO and RevolVR, an old-timey standoff and old western steampunk shootout. They currently have over 40 locations in Eastern Europe and are looking to open up 20 locations in the US and many more across the world with arcades, standalone pop-ups, and experiences.
Trebuchet and Jousting Time
Trebuchet demoed Jousting Time at VRLA and spoke with me about what to expect for their virtual reality multiplayer and mobile phone connected game. Alexandre Pernot Lopes, Trebuchet’s Creative Director and Co-Founder, chatted with me about using what they learned about their recent Kickstarter run and explained that they are hoping to get more feedback during early access from their fans on Steam so they can create user influenced content that will shape the game as a whole.
Alexandre said, “We are now going to release the game as an early access title before next summer in June or July, so the main thing to know is that the audience can connect to a web app and interact with what’s going on in the arena, while VR players can see the NPC crowd interacting.” He went on to say that “At the moment the plans are to release the core experience that is the joust but we also have the social aspect of the medieval feast where players can gather.”
Jousting Time is an active and super fun jousting game where players pick their weapon of choice and race towards each other on horseback with the goal of a body or headshot. Watching a young boy and his father yelling and laughing “Yah! Yah!” to race towards each other in a joust, holding the reins of their horse with one hand and the virtual weapon with the other, was hands down one of my favorite memories at VRLA. We’re looking forward to what Trebuchet has in store for Jousting Time fans and supporters in early access!
Check out Trebuchet’s Jousting Time gameplay video down below!
What is the body without the mind? We here at VR Fitness Insider believe that keeping the body and mind healthy is a top priority. Anshul Pendse is a Ph.D. student at UCSB and is the Co-Founder of the Visual Reality zone for VRLA. The regenerative oasis that is Visual Reality, is an area where exhibitors and attendees can demo visual and physical experiences through virtual tech. Looking for a little inner peace amongst the electrifying energy at VRLA, Inner Activity drew me in immediately.
Anshul explained that there would be an artful and meditative experience I’d be taken on and then fitted me with a Subpac haptic vibrational vest and an Oculus headset. What would happen next was pure bliss. On this meditative adventure, I was placed in a beautiful enclosed space and was taken, rather floated, towards an area that was lush with beautiful wispy trees, mushrooms, and background images that were bright but peaceful. As I looked towards the moving and turning mandala I was moved closer to it and felt my muscles let go and nervous energy melt away.
I spoke with Anshul to further explain what Inner Activity is and how it can help others. He shared with me that Inner Activity has “Two virtual reality experiences that combine entertainment, design, and video game technology with proven therapy modalities and therapy techniques. It also has the conceptual building blocks of meditation and spirituality to create new artistic forms of entertainment.”
He also went on to say that the meditative experiences are “ Based on proven therapy techniques that incorporate sound healing, aromatherapy, and incorporating healing modalities” that are also “entertainment experiences, where you are also getting healing as a side effect.” The vibroacoustic feedback of the Subpac vest was relaxing and paired with the music and movement going on around me. I even smelled floral aromas that were targeted to a specific point in the experience, making the immersion that much greater.
Be it the deep calm of the music and chanting or the trippy and beautifully alluring virtual visuals paired with aromatherapy, I was taken on a restorative and refreshing visual and auditory adventure that left me with a calm energy than I didn’t have previous to sitting down at his booth. Try out Inner Activity, your body and mind will thank you!
Check out Inner Activity’s meditative experience down below!
We’d like to thank VRLA for putting on such a great show! Thanks for having VR Fitness Insider there and we look forward to the realization of all the new VR, AR, MR, and XR tech and we’re anticipating what’s to come for the industry this year and beyond. See you next year at VRLA!