The beginning of August saw the 44 year old SIGGRAPH conference (Special Interest Group on Computer GRAPHics and Interactive Techniques) return to Los Angeles for the 11th time, and this year the topic was almost exclusively VR. As this is ProVideo Coalition and not VirtualReality Coalition, I’ll be taking a more filmmaker-centric approach to this recap. That being said, the word of the week was “immersion”, and at this point I’m confident we’re on our way to The Matrix within the next 5 years.
The TL;DR of SIGGRAPH this year was that Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are here, and there are plenty of companies developing tools for it, mostly surrounding the interactivity of the technology. That includes tracking in various forms, eye strain and fidelity solutions, and feedback simulation. The feedback tools can utilize simple things from inflatable bags worn about your person, all the way up to more complex things such as a large drum you would, I suppose, hang in your garage to simulates heat, wind, and frosty wind. Or an HMD that reads your mind.
VR is in an interesting spot, as there is plenty of potential but not a lot for the consumer to do with it right now. There’s a handful of games and even less in the way of passive entertainment, but that brings up an interesting dilemma. People keep hand-waving VR gaming as the obvious but not the end-game (pun not intended), and that there’s a ton more on the horizon. What makes one’s head tilt is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be much else to do with it (HP, in their press event, said 76% of VR content is gaming) but the companies recently diving in seem to believe there’s a whole heap of new experiences on the horizon that aren’t “silly games”, mostly in the commercial sector. Consumers care about experiences, commercial folks care about transforming workflows: lower cost, optimized investments in training and simulations, and shorter dev cycles. To that end, it’s up to individual companies to decide what (likely proprietary) programs best fit their needs.
[Read the full article, with pictures, at ProVideo Coalition]