Put on your galoshes folks because TED 2016 is shaping up to be a downpour of VR and AR related news. Early headlines were nabbed by The Void’s star-studded demos, and the Meta 2 and HoloLens presentations got people talking about AR headsets again in a big way. What could top all that you ask? How about a record-setting 1,200-person simultaneous VR experience.
Chris Milk, CEO of Vrse, took the well-trodden stage at the event to declare that VR will be the “last medium” of human expression in the world. Milk:
“VR is going to play an incredibly important role in the history of mediums…In fact, it’s going to be the last one. I mean that because it’s the first medium that actually makes the jump from our own interpretation of an author’s expression of an experience, to us experiencing it firsthand. In all other mediaums, your consciousness interprets the medium. In VR, your consciousness is the medium.”
To back up his statements, Milk gave the entire audience the chance to take part in a VR experience together. Preparation for the demo began the moment the attendees entered the conference hall. The organizers built a special ‘Vrse @TED2016’ app for the talk with a number of cinematic experiences in which the audience could immerse themselves. Guests received a pair of headphones and a Google Cardboard with a set of ‘eyes’ on the side that were based on portraits by street artist JR.
Facebook user Yelena Rachitsky (listed as a member of the Oculus Story Studio team) was able to provide a video of the crowd’s shared reactions.
Shared VR experiences are an important concept to prove for an industry that is sometimes accused of being isolating. Oculus will focus on bringing multiplayer experiences to their platform at its upcoming Game Days launch preview, and companies like Samsung are hoping to unite audiences in VR films by launching a dedicated immersive movie studio in New York City.
Vrse was recently named one of Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative VR/AR Companies. Milk was also a speaker at last year’s TED conference where he described VR as the “ultimate empathy machine.”