Over the last several years the long-running SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference served as an important marker of immersive computing’s march toward mainstream. Just a few years ago I found the Oculus meeting room hidden in a corner of the show floor where they were showing the HD prototype of the Rift featuring improved resolution.
As increasingly impressive developer kits and then consumer units arrived, VR spread out from that corner to overtake so many of the other floor presentations from both researchers and established commercial giants. Now in its third year, the VR Village serves as a central area for researchers and content creators to present their work.
Two years ago it was where Ken Perlin and his team from NYU showed Holojam — a project which recorded slices of space-time as people painted together in VR. Last year, the Synesthesia suit provided a hint at what full-body haptic feedback could feel like. This year Flock (video above) will expand upon some of the concepts of Holojam with a multi-user untethered virtual world “designed to get people to move, shake, and flock together.” These types of projects usually lack either the polish or affordable nature of consumer experiences, but instead stir the imaginations of attendees who work at the forefront of their respective fields.
“It has matured to the point where everybody knows what AR and VR is,” said VR Village Chair Denise Quesnel. “In the first year it was about introducing the technology widely to people. The second year it was about…how you can push the envelope a little more. This year, for the third year, it’s taking chances and really going beyond where we think VR is at today and showing a little bit about what is yet to come.”
In addition to the VR Village, the Computer Animation Festival that is part of the conference is adding VR content projects to that portion of the event. Instead of waiting in lengthy lines, organizer Pol Jeremias-Vila is employing a ticketing system for a specific time of day that will put visitors through a series of experiences in the Oculus Rift one after another.
Registration details for the conference are here.
Panels and presentations will also be offered allowing visitors to learn more about the projects. Here are some of the notable experience presentations, panels and talks that will be at the event.
VR/AR & OPTICS
Sunday, 30 July, 9 am – 10:30 am, Los Angeles Convention Center, Theatre 411
Varifocal Virtuality: A Novel Optical Layout for Near-Eye Display
This new optical design for see-through near-eye displays is simple, compact, varifocal, and it provides a wide field of view with clear peripheral vision and large eyebox. For objects not at the eye’s current accommodation distance, the system computationally blurs the graphics using the most up-to-date blurring technology: ChromaBlur, which accounts for high-order and chromatic aberrations of human eyes.
TwinCam is an omni-directional stereoscopic live-viewing camera that reduces motion blur and latency during head rotation in a head-mounted display. A user study demonstrated the effectiveness of the system’s alleviation of virtual reality sickness symptoms.
Adaptive Dynamic Refocusing: Toward Solving Discomfort in Virtual Reality
This approach to reducing discomfort in virtual reality eliminates the vergence-accommodation conflict, a fundamental flaw that affects all commercial headsets available today. It replaces traditional lenses in headsets with focus-adjustable optical systems to provide accommodation cues while taking into account the eyeglasses prescription of each individual user.
Membrane AR: Varifocal, Wide-Field-of-View Augmented Reality Display From Deformable Membranes
This augmented reality display employs novel, see-through, deformable membrane mirrors to create virtual imagery at a desired depth level within a wide field of view with the promise of a more comfortable user experience
Sunday, 30 July, 10:45 am – 12:15 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center, Theatre 411
Magic Bench: A Multi-User, Multi-Sensory AR Platform
In this solution for multi-user interactions, a group can share the same augmented environment and interact in the same animated story through a third-person POV. Instead of instrumenting a person, the approach instruments an environment, creating a seamless walk-up-and-play experience.
Created on a paper napkin in 2016, HOLO-DOODLE combines cutting-edge technology, and some of the best creative minds in the VR world to create an intimate, social hangout for users who assume the body of a pink robot. Led by VR director Daffy London, the team brings the inside of a sleek Los Angeles club into an interactive scene where users meet up, chat, and play with other robots. The simple goal is to have fun in VR.
Initi.org is an artistic collective dedicated to developing interactive new-media installations and researching and creating complex audio/visual projects for both indoor and outdoor spaces. Based in Prague, the Czech Republic, the group brings to SIGGRAPH 2017 their new Digital Playgroundz augmented reality platform for large-scale applications
Flock is a location-based, multi-user, untethered VR experience made for large-group interaction in the same physical and virtual space. The experience is a lightly gamified music video designed to get people to move, shake, and flock together. As they hunt and peck, participants become performers, both for each other and for the surrounding audience.
Body & Mind In VR
Sunday, 30 July, 2:00 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 403AB
STRATA | A Biometric VR Experience
STRATA is a responsive VR experience driven by biometrics, created by The Mill. STRATA tunes into your heart rate, breathing, stress levels and brain waves to remix a generative game engine world. The stunning immersive experience connects us to our own emotional state, teaching us to calm and focus our minds.
Blortasia and Zen Parade: Exploring Spatial Presence in Virtual Reality
Kevin Mack describes the creation of Blortasia and Zen Parade, his abstract virtual reality art experiences that explore the spatial presence of VR as an aesthetic medium in and of itself.
Neurable: Brain-Computer Interfaces for Virtual and Augmented Reality
Control software with your mind. Neurable’s brain-computer interface (BCI) combines novel neurophysiological insights with proprietary machine-learning algorithms. The technology allows for real-time, intent-driven interactions that address many of the pain points associated with extended reality (XR) devices. This presentation discusses Neurable’s BCI and its necessary role for XR.
IRIDiuM+: Storytelling with Immersive Light Fields Beyond 6 Degrees of Freedom
IRIDiuM+ enables immersive storytelling in VR enhanced with non-linear sequenced sound, touch, and light. It extends IRIDiuM to allow branching streams of full-motion light-field video depending on user actions in real time. The deep-media aim is to allow users to physically enter rendered movies with novel non-linear storytelling capability. With the ability to change the outcome of the story through touch and physical movement, users make choices with consequences in immersive movies. The interactive narrative guides users through the immersive story with lighting and spatial audio design and integrates both walkable and air-haptic actuators.
Tuesday, 1 August, 9:00 am – 10:30 am, Los Angeles Convention Center, Theatre 411
AR Mail From Harbin
This playful mobile application enriches spatial experience and social interactions of visitors to a heritage site. The AR system adds a 3D-captured section of Harbin’s cathedral on a fragment of plan printed on postcards, and a postcard set can be assembled to show the whole building.
Bridget is a curious little robot whose core functionality is open source. This introduction to Bridget explains how OpenBE powers her brain, summarizes the Bridge Engine SDK, and demonstrates the Bridge headset and controller.
Remote Collaboration in AR and VR Using Virtual Replicas
AR and VR interaction and visualization techniques that efficiently support remote assistance scenarios in which users wear tracked head-worn displays. The techniques allow a remote expert to create and use virtual replicas of physical objects to guide a local user in performing a task with those objects.
IL Gigante: Michelangelo’s David in VR
See Michelangelo’s “stone giant” in virtual reality. Walk around Michelangelo’s 17-foot (5-meter) statue of David and use a virtual scaffold to see the work up close as few have seen it before.
Immersive VR Production
Tuesday, 1 August, 10:45 am-12:15 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center,Room 403AB
Breakthrough VR: Hallelujah & Lytro Immerge
Hallelujah is the world’s first VR music experience to provide an uncompromised sense of presence with six degrees of freedom. Created using Lytro Immerge, an end-to-end production pipeline, Hallelujah combines visionary creative and bleeding edge Light Field tech to deliver a breakthrough experience. Learn more from the Lytro team.
The team behind the award-winning animated VR narratives “Invasion!” and “Asteroids!” share learnings and insights from the studio’s latest project. Rainbow Crow, inspired by a Native American myth, has been showcased at Tribeca, Cannes, and Annecy film festivals.
VR/AR TO GO
Tuesday, 1 August, 3:45 pm – 5:15 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 403AB
A New (Virtual) Reality at The New York Times
When it comes to applying the storytelling power of virtual reality to journalism, The New York Times stands alone as the unparalleled leader. Graham Roberts, Director of Immersive Platforms Storytelling at the Times and leader of the editorial side of their virtual reality initiative, describes how the Times began its immersive adventures and why they are exploring it seriously as part of their larger mission. He also offers insights into recent and ongoing projects, and a vision for the future.
Evolution of AR in Pokémon GO
Pokémon GO inspired user behaviors indicative of a successful augmented reality application such as sharing of photos with rendered characters and spontaneous real-world gatherings of thousands of people. The evolution of the technical and design choices in Niantic’s products through Pokémon GO that achieved a mass-market AR application are described.
How VR Changes the Sense of Ourselves & Reality
VR reveals how our perceptual sense of reality is constructed within our minds. Virtual experiences can leave us with memories that are as visceral as real-life experiences. Presented are philosophical implications of VR, historical context of visual communication, elemental theory of presence, and characteristics of this new Experiential Age. Kent Bye, Voices of VR Podcast.
It’s All (VR) Fun & Games
Wednesday, 2 August, 9:00 am – 10:30 am, Los Angeles Convention Center, Theatre 411
Unleashing VR Through Casual Content – How Casual Games Will Bring Virtual Reality Mainstream
From Pong to FarmVille, casual content has been instrumental in driving mainstream adoption of new technologies. This presentation explains how the casual past helps predict the VR future and explores how casual content will help bring virtual reality to the masses.
Explore the International Space Station 250 miles above earth in this simulation experience developed in collaboration with NASA. Move in zero gravity using Oculus Touch controllers. Explore ISS experiments and missions. Take a spacewalk to check out the exterior of the station.
Emotional Choices in VR Narrative
When faced with difficult emotional choices, what will you do? This talk explores how interactivity in VR storytelling engages the viewer with emotional choices instead of branching story choices. Topics include interactive narrative design in the VR Village experience Reaping Rewards and how in-VR animation prototyping VR is essential for the creative process.
It’s Alive! Alternative Immersions
Wednesday, 2 August, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 402AB
Field Trip to Mars
In Field Trip to Mars, the first-ever headset-free group virtual reality vehicle experience, a classic yellow school bus is home to an immersive virtual experience that transports school children to the surface of the red planet.
Dear Angelica: Breathing Life into VR Illustrations
For its upcoming VR experience, Dear Angelica, Oculus Story Studio wanted to immerse viewers inside a series of hand-drawn illustrations, tell a story by artfully transitioning between the drawings, and breathe life into these drawings by adding various animations and visual effects.
Two Novel Approaches to Visualizing Internal and External Anatomy of The Cardiac Cycle with A Windowed Virtual Heart Model
Ttwo novel approaches to visualizing both internal and external anatomy of the heart through the cardiac cycle. The first uses “windows” manually cut through each chamber. The second is a rigging and control system for a more accurate wringing motion.
The Art & Science Of VR
Wednesday, 2 August, 3:45 pm – 5:15 pm, Los Angeles Convention Center, Theatre 411
The workflow and technology behind the Meet Mike Epic VR experience: spanning the integration of complex scanning and modeling, facial AI deep learning, and advanced real-time UE4 graphics.
Heroes: The Making of an Interactive, Mixed-Reality Duet
Heroes is multidimensional experience that guides the audience and participants through the emotionality of dance set to an iconic David Bowie song. This panel discussion illuminates the process of creating this extraordinary experience and the intricacies of creating a live-action performance with world-class visual effects incorporated into a Unity-driven experience for Gear VR and HoloLens.
Realities Of VR Production
Thursday, 3 August, 9:00 am – 10:30 am, Los Angeles Convention Center, Room 408AB
The Making of Google Earth VR
This talk discusses the journey of the Google Earth VR project from early prototypes to its final launched stage: how the production team designed 3D navigation, visuals, sound, and haptics, and turned it all into a shipping product, and what they learned along the way.
Building an Animation Pipeline for VR Stories
Penrose Studios is building a native VR animation pipeline for VR stories. This talk introduces a suite of tools built in VR for creating and reviewing animations. It also discusses animation principles for VR from the artist’s perspective.
Visual Effects for VR
This review of the creative process using examples ranging from Hollywood VR to The New York Times examines VR photography and photogrammetric reality-capture techniques, and explores the linkage between tried-and-true VFX trickery and the illusion of a virtual reality.