20Q with Neil Schneider – MTBS3D and The Immersive Technology Alliance

Posted November 19, 2014 by David in 20 Q

Welcome to our weekly feature where we ask some of the industry’s leading developers and personalities 20 questions.

This week we feature Neil Schneider one of the web veterans who’s website and forum was key to the current resurgence of Virtual Reality.

State Your Name:

Neil Schneider

Neil Schneider

Neil Schneider

What is your current Job / Role ?

Executive Director of The Immersive Technology Alliance, and Founder of Meant to be Seen.

What are you most famous for ?

Building the community that was the catalyst for giving birth to the Oculus Rift, The Immersive Technology Alliance, Virtuix Omni, the open source Vireio Perception VR drivers, FreePIE, and more.

What is currently on the desk in front of you ?

A HUGE mess filled with stacks of paper, my collector Bender Bot from Futurama, an Oculus Rift DK2, my 3D camera, parts of a Novint Falcon, Mr. Potato Head Darth Vader, too many bills and forms…what’s NOT on my desk?!?

Mr  Potato Head Darth Vader

Mr Potato Head Darth Vader

What was your first VR experience ?

My first REAL virtual reality experience was a demo walking around a medieval village square as part of an early Oculus demo.  Wait – there was also a scifi thing without a name the night before.  It’s all a blur.

Did you feel any sim sickness or do you ever feel any sim sickness ?

Not at all.

What’s the longest amount of time you have spent in VR in one play session ?

A full afternoon and early evening.  My wife interrupted me.

What’s the strangest experience you have had with VR ?

Medieval Village Oculus Demo

Medieval Village Oculus Demo

It’s not so much about the VR being strange.  The way the stereoscopic 3D appears on the Oculus is different than how it appears on a cinema or computer monitor screen.  It has to do with the offsets of the imagery with the lenses.  It took a lot of debate and discussion to figure out what the heck was going on with Palmer Luckey and Joe Ludwig from Valve before I figured it out.  It was a good mystery.

What’s the funniest experience you have had with VR ?

Less with me personally. When my wife put the DK1 on for the first time, she said “OH!  THIS IS MAKING ME SICK!  OH!”.  Then right after she took it off, she said “Can I try it again?”

What game or hardware device are you currently working on ?

I have a few.  Right now I’m using my ASUS G75 3D notebook computer.

Immersed ConferenceDo you have a release date in mind for your project ?

Vireio Perception, the open source VR drivers, are in constant release.  We try to do nightly builds now.  However, our biggest project to date is the Immersed conference (www.getimmersed.com).  Featuring 40 speakers, it’s the first major immersive tech event on the East Coast.  Taking place at 99 Sudbury in Toronto, it’s strategically important for the industry because the media, investment community, market, government, and public will all be there.  All the tools needed for professionals and entrepreneurs to get started will be there.  We are very proud of the speaker lineup too: John Gaeta (Academy Award Winner for The Matrix Bullet Time effects), Habib Zargarpour (Creative Director, Microsoft Studios), AMD, Nvidia, Canada Film Centre, Jaunt, the list goes on and on and on.

The public exhibition is free on the Sunday (Nov 23), and the full registration includes sessions, meals, and exhibit access on both days.

What is the biggest surprise you have had since you started to work in VR ?

I’m surprised with the willingness for the community to be voluntarily dependent – even adamant –  on specific brands for the livelihood of their ideas or businesses; and they ARE businesses that are hanging in the balance.  It’s just too early to do such a thing.  Of course there are brands out there with great ideas and innovations, and there will definitely be more.  However, having been around in the immersive space since 2007, MTBS would have been dead a long time ago if we ever entertained the idea of limiting our aspirations or relationships to any single product or company.  It’s impossible to survive that way; believe me, I know!

Leisure Suit Larry

Leisure Suit Larry

If you could only choose one game from your childhood to be remade for VR what would it be ?

Leisure Suit Larry.

Besides games what do you think will be the most useful application for VR ?

Communicating experiences to others.  Like giving people without the means to walk the ability to skydive.  Really big idea stuff.

What advice would you give to people on how to get into VR development ?

Think big and avoid putting yourself in a position of dependence.  At these early stages, try to focus on niche or specialized interests that don’t need mass market sales to achieve short term viability.  Think and behave as though you can’t expect someone else to foot your bill and have to creatively come up with the resources.  That’s how MTBS exists every day.

The Matrix

The Matrix

What is your favorite VR related movie ?

That would have to be The Matrix.

 If you had a crystal ball and could see 10 years into the future what developments in VR do you think will have happened?

The VR flower-power romance will be dead; and good riddance.  What is left will be viable businesses and products with solid immersive content and experiences we need and enjoy in our day to day lives.  There won’t be lame politics of who can work with who because a real standard will be in place.  We’ll have solid professionally crafted product reviews and journalism by people who don’t care what others think or have an axe to grind because the industry will be huge.  We will ultimately be faced with an industry of vibrant diversity versus a handful of product options.  That’s my vision.

Outside of VR what do you do to relax ?

My wife and I are really into The Walking Dead.  It’s the only thing I watch on TV anymore.  What’s even more relaxing is getting our three year old to bed…finally!

Oculus Crescent Bay

Oculus Crescent Bay

What’s your current favorite VR experience that you have not developed yourself ?

The Oculus Crescent Bay demo was amazing.  In particular, I liked the warzone sequence with cars flying overhead and shrapnel going this way and that.  Amazing!  I want to see more of that…here…in my house…if my wife will let me.

Sum up how you feel about Virtual Reality in 6 words or less ?

Unbridled enthusiasm.

Visit MTBS3D forums

Visit Get Immersed



VR Cover

About the Author


David Whelan a professional web developer has been a serial early adopter of the latest technology. From an early age playing on a C64 he always dreamt of entering virtual worlds and exploring the endless possibilities that could be offered up by the platform.

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