The Immersed 2015 VR and AR conference is taking place in Toronto from Sunday to Tuesday of this week, and Tom's Hardware is a media sponsor of the event. We are there covering the event, so you can expect to see a lot more from Immersed over the next few days.
The first day of the event was open to the public, giving VR enthusiasts a chance to check out some of the exhibits, including demos of the HTC Vive and Starbreeze's StarVR Walking Dead experience. There were also a number of professional workshops with deeper dives into the technology of virtual reality. Read on for a recap of the first day.
One of the hardware demo highlights was being able to check out the StarVR headset. Kevin Carbotte got a chance to experience it and was quite impressed, and you can check out his coverage here. The demo had a line throughout the day of people willing to shotgun some zombies. Although it was a seated experience, the addition of the tracked gun peripheral added to the immersion immensely.
Our takeaway is that Oculus and Valve/HTC do have a legitimate contender in StarVR, but it is currently much earlier in its development cycle, so don't expect to see a retail product for some time.
Like StarVR, the line to test out the Vive was long, and attendees were sadly limited to only two demos to give as many people a chance to try it as possible. The demos being shown were WEVR's theBlu: Encounter and "Tilt Brush," the VR painting application.
CFC Media Lab
This small, Montreal-based startup was there showing off its impressive full resolution, glasses-free 3D display that uses a camera for facetracking to adjust the display to keep the image in 3D. We were told that the team would be incorporating eye tracking in the future, and the technology can be used in displays of up to 65 inches.
Coming off its recent success of winning an "Outstanding Original Interactive Program" Emmy for its Taylor Swift Experience, IM360 was there showing off some of its camera hardware, including the high resolution Hex spherical digital camera system.
Dashwood Cinema Solutions
Dashwood was showing off its 360VR Toolbox, which is a suite of plugins for Premiere Pro, After Effects and Final Cut Pro. One of the key features is enabling real-time monitoring of the 360-degree content in an HMD as you are editing it, and 360 content creators like IM360 and Jaunt VR use this toolbox.
The London, Ontario, developer was at Immersed showing off its VR platformer, MushroomBallVR, a game very much in the mould of Super Mario 3D World. Its target platforms are Oculus, then Gear VR, and lastly PlayStation VR. Unlike many VR games, we were told that they are aiming to create a long-form gaming experience.
OCAD PHASE Lab Holography
Among all the virtual content, the Ontario College of Art and Design's PHASE (Prototype Holographics for Art & Science Explorations) Lab was at Immersed showing off real full color digital holograms. The full-color holograms they had on display were very impressive and reminded us that the technology to create this 3D imagery has been around since the 60's (of course, not in color or created digitally). We also learned that true holographers take great offense to the use of the term "hologram" by many tech companies to describe their experiences (cough, Hololens, cough), when they clearly aren't holograms. Holographers call them "fauxlograms."
The Cubical Ninjas, a gang of VR developers, were at Immersed with two experiences. The first was its Guided Meditation VR experience running on an Oculus Rift DK2, and the other was its Ramble Venice virtual tourism experience on Gear. The Ninjas are a design agency that works with other companies in VR and also creates its own content. We were told that it aims to have Guided Meditation VR ready for the launch of the Rift CV1.
The rest of the day consisted of the five professional workshops. The first was called "Human Centered Design for VR," the second was "Working With Immersive Audio For Virtual Reality," then "Making Effective Use of Gesture Control Devices," and then "Storytelling in 3D and 360," and finally there was "3D and VR Filmmaking."
Immersed 2015 continues today and tomorrow at the Ontario Science Centre. Stay tuned for more coverage from our team on the ground.
Alex Davies is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware and Tom's IT Pro, covering Smartphones, Tablets, and Virtual Reality. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow Tom's Hardware on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.