Augmented World Expo is this week in Santa Clara, California with an assortment of demos planned to preview next steps for VR/AR.
The conference in the heart of Silicon Valley kicks off Wednesday with a series of talks followed by more than 100,000 feet of expo space to explore on Thursday and Friday. A 20,000 square foot “Playground” will showcase an assortment of experiences from across the spectrum of AR/VR.
Here’s a list provided by AWE of projects being shown in the playground:
- Machines of Progress by EyeJack: Illustrated and animated by Australian artist Sutu, Machines of Progress is a colorful, large format illustration of a futuristic laboratory for testing fictional technologies and strange interface designs.
- Heal-ium: Positivity Tree by StoryUp XR: In a world filled with negativity, harness the power of your brain’s *Positivity* to transform your VR or AR environment. It’s kind of like virtual telekinesis. Use your mind’s gamma asymmetry to grow a VR tree or an AR butterfly from a chrysalis to a beautiful monarch.
- Kitty Kong — The 8th Wonder of the World by Shape Immersive is a multi-player, interactive, and full 360-degree mixed reality experience. In this mission to save the world from the notorious Kitty Kong, players must work together to create a magical barrier to contain the destruction.
- Tribe VR DJ School by Tribe XR: Take your first DJ lesson in VR.
- Relax VR: Take a break. Take a breath. Sit back . . . and escape to the world’s most relaxing, natural settings. Gaze at vast, undulating ocean waves toward the horizon as you de-stress to a gentle meditation or soft melodic tunes.
- In Situ eXPerience by Realcast will project attendees into an immersive storytelling experience–delivered through AR smart glasses, AR smartphones and movement trackers–so real you think it is actually happening.
- Where Thoughts Go: Prologue is a groundbreaking interactive social narrative. In this universe, sleeping creatures float toward you awakened by a gentle touch to reveal the thoughts of others who have previously visited.
- Two Bit Circus: Join the mad scientists, artists, inventors, and storytellers from Two Bit Circus as they showcase some of their most popular games.
- PUB TALK – An experience like no other by Nuheara: Come try IQbuds intelligent wireless earbuds in a bustling pub setting, and feel the difference that augmented hearing can make.
- The Multiple Reality Machine by Igloo Vision displays any form of 360°, VR or AR content in a shared, immersive projection space. For AWE, Igloo has developed a series of scenarios to show how groups of people can engage and interact with multiple immersive realities.
- The Globacore Heist by Globacore: Commit the heist of the century in a VR museum, dodging lasers, fighting off flying drones, and avoiding becoming shark food in order to steal treasured artifacts and return them to their proper place in space and time.
- Heroes Alliance Online by Beyond One lets attendees connect with other players and battle against a massive fire breathing dragon flying through the venue. Avoid obstacles, dodge fireballs, and aim powerful attacks–all through the lens of a smartphone.
- Infinadeck is the world’s first commercially-viable omnidirectional treadmill. This patented device allows users to naturally walk in any direction, allowing users to take a stroll through vast, immersive new worlds.
- Hypercube XR by River Studios is a love story about two hypernauts using mixed reality to communicate through dimensions, reaching for clues across space and time. This installation uses the mozilla XR ecosystem to send guests on a quest through a fanciful world blending VR, AR, and optical tricks from the past.
- AR Whack-A-Monster by Project Ghost Studios will blur the lines between the real, the augmented, and the virtual in this storytelling experience.
- Critical Mass by Ultrahaptics: Step inside a virtual lab with a reactor that is about to go critical. To shut it down, you must coordinate with your partner to solve a puzzle. Touch, feel and manipulate its virtual controls and objects with your bare hands. Save the lab and yourselves before time runs out.
- The Animaker by Resonai, The Tech Museum of Innovation, Omai and Occipital is an immersive exhibit which invites visitors to collaborate with AI-powered ‘robots’ to bring their creations to life. Utilizing artificial intelligence, 3d scanning and animation techniques, visitors create their favorite animal with LEGO/Duplo to see it live and interact in a virtual world.
- Augmented Reality Arts Garden presented by cFire, Lynchini, Enklu & Betwixt Reality: Experience art in an exciting new way with the launch of a multidimensional augmented reality experience featuring performances by principal dancers of The San Francisco Ballet, original music by Empress, and digital sculptures by prominent local AR artists.
- Beat Saber Mixed Reality Experience by Liv Inc.–where attendees record themselves in mixed reality. Put yourself into the VR games that you love and broadcast that experience to the world.
The event comes during a transitional time for the emerging VR/AR industry. New standalone headsets powered by Google, Facebook and HTC remove friction and make it easier to use VR. Meanwhile, 100,000+ saber-wielding enthusiasts are disappearing into Rifts, Vives and Microsoft-based headsets for hours at a time as they try to master their favorite songs in Beat Saber. AR eyewear remains an alluring prospect for the future (Magic Leap is actually communicating publicly now and new HoloLens apps are still being released) but so far AR remains constrained to occasional use across hundreds of millions of iPhones and Android phones using ARKit and ARCore.
Despite this stop-and-go start to the VR/AR industry, Silicon Valley investors are likely to head to AWE this week searching for evidence of sound investments. While I expect to find all sorts of interesting things at the event, I wanted to single out one particular experience I’m looking forward to seeing as soon as I can at AWE.
Stereolabs is planning to show off multiplayer ping ping using their Zed Mini camera with the HTC Vive. What makes this so interesting is that a pair of players will see the real environment surrounding them with a digital ping pong table and ball inserted between them. The demo is expected to let people play a game of ping pong almost exactly like they do in the real world using a VR headset modified to function like a very advanced AR headset.
Though HTC plans to provide similar functionality with the Vive Pro on its own, I am excited to see what kind of image quality Stereolabs is able to produce using its technology. Because cameras from Stereolabs understand depth, they can also more easily produce mixed reality videos pulling together footage from two realities without any green screen required. Overall, the system might represent a pretty compelling entry point for developers who want to start building next generation multiplayer experiences that start to incorporate real-world environments.