VRLA Hosts 3rd Meetup at New Deal Studios

Posted August 19, 2014 by Matt Terndrup in News

On August 16, 2014, Virtual Reality Los Angeles held the biggest VR event in Southern California so far.

It attracted somewhere between 600 and 700 people and contained a wide variety of demo experiences. There was so much going on at the event that it took some time to dive into the heart of the meetup, but by the end of the day it was clearly evident how VR and the individuals involved would effect the future.

Sixense

Sixense

The event was held at New Deal Studios, a visual effects studio that produced well-known movies like Inception and The Dark Knight; which was a great place for the day’s activities due to the large amount of warehouse space that was available. However, the hundreds of people filled up the building quickly sparking an increase in temperature that many would grumbled about as time went on. VRLA stepped in though to give out water bottles along with popsicles and ice cream sandwiches which helped to cure the heat.

Once everyone was settled in, developers from all over the United States demoed their products in front of the eager crowds of VR enthusiasts. Of the people there, a good section of them were first time virtual reality users, and there were a lot of children running around. Demos by Sixense, WorldViz, and Kite & Lightning were some of the most popular attractions by kids and adults a like. There were light saber games, flying experiences with motion-tracking wristbands, and tons of Oculus Rifts. DK1’s were present, but the focus was on the recently shipped

Google Carboard

Google Carboard

DK2’s. But that doesn’t mean that other types of VR goggles weren’t tried out as well. For instance, GameFace Labs was showing off their portable virtual reality prototype by walking through the masses having them try it out on the fly. Sony’s Project Morpheus brought out their beautiful VR system too, which was quite a surprise because they usually only demo it at expensive gaming conventions. On the multimedia side of things though, Avegant Glyph had a table where individuals sat down to wear futuristic headphone sets that had a video player embedded into the frame. The headphones could easily be flipped down, beaming rays of reflecting light into the eyes of the user. Even further, Dodocase presented their cardboard VR toolkits, leading the viewer into the Do-It-Yourself VR scene. As their CEO and co-founder stated in an interview, “we’re confident that the next million people to experience VR are going to experience it through one of these“.

Avegant Glyph

Avegant Glyph

For the most part, the VR experiences at the event were games, but a few companies experimented with fringe ideas. For one, a local research company called Emblematic presented their immersive journalism project which gave the user a first-person perspective on historic events at places like Syria. Darknet, a cyber punk hacking experience, was transported from San Diego to be there. Specular Theory also had some newly-created content that they recently developed. Another type of experience that was a little bit different was VR Typing Trainer. What made this particular project special was the educational aspect of it. Not to mention, it was developed at a nearby Orange County VR hackathon, adding a nice cross-pollination effect to the VRLA meetup.

Among the other companies was KOR-FX which had a haptic feedback vest that could simulate effects of footsteps, gunshots, and explosions by converting sound waves into physical vibrations. An intuitive motion controller called Trinity VR also made an appearance. Jaunt VR was present as well, talking about their ventures into cinematic virtual reality movies. In addition, the gesture sensing ring Nod showed the potential of wearable technology in the realm of virtual reality.

Trinity VR

Trinity VR

As developers demoed their work, active members in the local scene presented different aspects of virtual reality production. Unity 5, binaural 3D audio, realtime 3D modeling, and 360 cameras rigs were all discussed on stage throughout the day. This gave the people floating by opportunities to learn how to create custom virtual reality experiences. Waqas Hussain, with Distant Sun Studios, even walked the audience through an Unreal Engine 4 tutorial, which was reminiscent of something that would be seen inside a college class room.

There was a lot of potential flooding into the space that day, prompting larger media outlets to start picking up the VR movement. Vice magazine, for example, flew in a team from the UK in order to capture the rising trend of virtual reality porn. Although the VRLA meetup was primarily a family affair, a few instances throughout the day showed that VR was not all just fun and games. Adri Murguia and her crew gathered up some controversial interviews with a few of the active community members in an effort to record footage of people talking about love and sex in the digital age. Their documentary, when released, will be sure to turn heads and put focus on an industry that is likely to explode in the near future.

In conclusion, the entire day was filled with virtual reality experiences that will continue to spark the VR movement towards active integration into everyday life. The organizers did a fantastic job at collecting a great range of virtual reality devices, demos, and presentations that left the crowd buzzing about the future of VR as they left.

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About the Author

Matt Terndrup

Matthew Terndrup is an up-and-coming writer with a strong technical background who started his journalism career while travelling across the country jumping from one hackerspace to the next. Interested in all aspects of Virtual Reality, but is primarily focused on those special projects that push the boundaries of what Virtual Reality can do. In addition to contributing for Virtual Reality Reviewer, Matt also writes articles for Hackaday, Digital Journal, and publishes his other work through an educational blog called Jamby and his own personal blog called Hackertrips.

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