Immerse Conference

By | October 16, 2016

Last week I spent two days volunteering for Immerse, a VR/AR conference held in Bellevue, WA. At first, I didn’t even plan to attend this event, since it was right before Steam Dev Days. However, after getting information that I can get free pass in exchange for ‘a few hours of volunteering’, I jumped at the opportunity.

I spent the first day helping with preparation for the event. The conference did not actually start until the next day. However, in the evening, there was a reception and mixer for VR/AR companies. So a lot of the exhibitors came in on the first day and started setting up their booth.

On the second day, I managed to have some free time early in the morning, enough to network a little bit and attended the opening speech. Then as my shift started, I helped with registration for a while. During lunch break, I sneaked into one of the panel upstairs. I caught the end of  “Let’s Make VR Practical Again: Immersive Design through Virtual Production.” The presenter, Girish Balakrishnan from Digital Domain was showing the technology his company used for The Jungle Book. It looked interesting, and made me wish to be there since the beginning to hear all the talk. And this talk was not recorded, aaargh >.<

In the next panel, “When Worlds Collide: Applying Virtual and Mixed Reality Geovisualization to Serious Geographic Challenges,” the presenter Nick Hendley showed some of the works he’s done using AR and VR technology. He’s been dabbling with this tech for years, since he was still studying at University of Washington. Some of the projects were for BBC UK, Museum of Science in Boston and a lot of other places. Near the end of the presentation, he showed his latest work where him and his student would 3D scan various locations, like a beach, captured all the information needed and rebuild the information in virtual world. It was really neat. In my mind, I can see this technology being used to show environmental changes virtually. Unfortunately, I had to run to my next shift before the panel ended.

For my next shift, I was helping a local meetup group, Windows Holographic User Group Redmond (WinHUGR), with their booth in the Expo Hall. I went to this meetup a couple times, and they mainly have presentations on Microsoft Hololens development. The booth had two Hololens available for demonstration. My task at the booth was to get people to try the device and kept the people in queue interested. Thankfully since I’ve had some experience during Holohacks, I was able to answer a lot of questions. I made so many connection with people as I was helping them out. Remember folks, always bring your business cards everywhere.

Finally, near the end of the conference, I was done with my shift.  I spent my last hour to check other booths around the expo hall. The first one that caught my eyes was VRCade. Me and PG went to a demonstration by this company about 3-4 years ago, when Oculus DK1 was just released and it wasn’t part of Facebook yet. I think VRCade was the one that got us really interested in Virtual Reality. So I was really happy to see the company doing well.

Another booth that really caught my interested was for CognitiveVR. This was a tool used to analyze user interaction in VR/AR. It used heat maps to show player behavior, such as where they were looking, which area they ignored, etc. It also kept track of frame rate at different location, which would help a lot of artists and developers. For example, if one area contains super high poly model, and players never bother to look there, maybe it’d better to remove that model to different location. The developers mentioned that this tool can be downloaded from their github for free, up to a certain amount. Definitely something to test as I build more VR products.

After the conference ended, I stayed for another hour and helped out with cleaning. Afterward, time to go home and get ready for Steam Dev Days that would start on the next day!