The computer graphics conference SIGGRAPH is one of the biggest events of the year for the reveal of new research and technologies that could change how we see the world in the future. This year Disney, Niantic and StarVR are all planning big reveals in connection with the event.
We’ve found some very interesting projects at SIGGRAPH in the past ranging from Google’s face replacement technology to an environmental system producing wind, chill and heat effects during a walk-around VR experience. We’ve also enjoyed the VR Theater, which is making a return this year as a showcase for narrative VR projects. The 2018 conference in Vancouver takes place August 12-16 and we’ve already heard about some of the projects that will be debuting there. There are likely still big reveals yet to come from researchers who will be presenting at the conference, but here’s what we know about three different VR projects that will be announced or shown for the first time at SIGGRAPH.
Disney Animation Studios is showing “Cycles”, its first VR short. The project explores ”the true meaning of creating a home and the life it holds inside its walls.” We’ll be curious to see how the project compares to something like the tear-jerking Pearl from Google or the many works we’ve seen from startups like Baobab and Penrose.
Pokemon Go creator Niantic, Inc. is planning to show multiplayer augmented reality at SIGGRAPH. We recently got a look at some of Niantic’s multiplayer AR efforts, but at SIGGRAPH the demonstration is described as people playing pong against each other “where the ball and paddles exist in AR for all users.” Major technology companies like Google and Apple are racing to enable this type of multiplayer functionality on millions of devices, and Niantic could lead the way by making software introducing shared AR experiences to people through popular universes like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and Pokemon. AR multiplayer demos like this one from Niantic offer a glimpse of the types of entertainment experiences which might be much more common in the years to come.
We’ve also received an email outlining an “enterprise” product launch from StarVR. I reached out for details, but none are forthcoming yet. StarVR is known for an ultra wide field of view VR headset that is limited in key ways. Appearing at arcades like those from IMAX, the StarVR headset generally needed a more expensive PC while providing fewer frames each second for your eyes as compared with what you get from a Rift or Vive. Leaving your brain with less information to process about the virtual world can have a major negative effect on comfort. Last year, Acer became a majority investor in the StarVR effort which had previously been led by Starbreeze. We will be curious to see what frame rate, resolution and field of view is promised with this launch, and how all that comes together for an enterprise-focused package. Remarks and keynote are planned in the morning on Aug. 14 by StarVR Vice President Jerry Kao and CTO Emmanuel Marquez.
Here’s what StarVR looked like at IMAX: