Photo credit: Ashley Lo Russo
As we move into October, I wanted to reflect back on the past month in my role as the Innovator in Residence for virtual reality (VR) at Scarborough Civic Centre branch. Up until now, I have spent all my time at the Scarborough branch and I have been taken aback by people’s curiosity and enthusiasm for this burgeoning medium. For instance, I have done two courses on live action production where I’ve focused on both storytelling and production techniques and on both days I had the same people attend. This was very gratifying, as I can see people are really excited about the possibilities of making live action content for VR and despite the challenges, they are really jumping in with both feet.
October as it happens, also turns out be an important month for VR as there are (and were) a lot of key events scheduled. First, Google has announced the release of their mobile Daydream VR platform and on October 20th, will be shipping the Google Pixel, first phone that will be capable of running on it. This is a watershed moment, as in the next year you will see a lot of different manufacturers making Daydream-ready devices, which will open up the market considerably for both consumers and developers.
Secondly, on October 13th, Playstation released PSVR. This is a moment a lot of people in the industry have been waiting for as it represents the time that VR truly hits the mainstream. There are an estimated 50 million PS4s in the world and all of them are capable of running PSVR. As a result, high end VR has never been easier to get into from a cost perspective when compared to the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. We will know in the next few months if this is the case, but so far all the reviews are pointing out that Sony has a winner on its hands.
Finally, at the beginning of October, I had the opportunity to attend Oculus Connect. Connect is their development conference where they share important announcements about what they are working on and what they will be releasing. This year, the focus was Oculus Touch, their hand controllers about which they have been teasing the public for the past year. I got to try a bunch of demos with the controllers and they feel amazing. In addition, I got to meet lots and lots of creators who are building all sorts of applications for VR that ran the gamut from live sports experiences, room-scale games and big budget 360 video projects. It was truly inspiring.
Oculus also talked about a VR headset that they are building which is completely wireless and uses computer vision cameras for positional tracking. I anticipate the product won’t be out for the next year or two, but they did have a prototype which they were showing to journalists -- and all the articles I read gave high praise for comfort of the experience. It is clear that nobody is standing still while the technology is moving at an exponential rate. As I say in my classes, there has never been a better time to get involved in VR and if you have still have any skepticism, just wait and see what happens in November.
- Elli Raynai, Fall 2016 Innovator in Residence