4pm Thursday 10th December 2015
UWA Futures Observatory
Six speakers from Perth’s virtual and augmented reality industry were invited to present their recent work to UWA staff at the university’s Futures Observatory.
Over 60 people attended the event – providing opportunities to learn about existing AR/VR projects, and for industry professionals to network with UWA research, teaching and technical staff.
There were presentations from developers working within cultural heritage, gaming, architecture and education, offering diverse perspectives on a range of issues within the current AR/VR industry.
A highlight of the event was the demonstration of two HTC Vive VR systems, kindly showcased by ImmersiaVR and Offpeak Games. Excited attendees queued to chat with presenters and use the two systems programmed with a range of immersive applications.
The Vive is currently only available to developers, so our audience was delighted by the opportunity to trial the system. Many came away with glowing reviews of the new technology.
Adam Geoghan outlined his career trajectory as a developer and principal founder of his start-up company, ImmersiaVR. Adam’s vision for the AR/VR industry included development of mental health and wellbeing apps; though currently ImmersiaVR works with industry partners in training and development for the mining and resources sector.
Nick Lowe of Hungry Sky spoke about his experiences working with a range of media on projects such as the ‘Dinosaur Discovery’ installations at the WA Museum, Scitech, and the latest ‘Treasure Ships’ exhibition at the Art Gallery of WA. Nick provided a measured outline of the technical and theoretical challenges surrounding augmented reality content and left the audience well-informed about working with mixed-reality interfaces.
Brendan Ragan, Chief Information Technologist of Stirfire Studios, was on hand to discuss a zombie game currently under development. ‘A little haptics goes a long way’ outlined the game production pipeline which featured specially designed haptic chainsaws to improve player experience and embodied response. As an amusing aside, Brendan passed the chainsaws around the audience during his presentation.
Ryan Beckman of Sciosity, our fourth speaker, outlined his goal of working with technical colleges, universities, private schools, and WA companies to develop educational solutions set within virtual learning spaces.
Rene van Meeuwen, based jointly at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts and his start-up company Felix Lab, discussed his recent collaborations with the Subiaco Council on the Subiaco pARk installation, as well as the Augmented Australia installation at the Venice Biennale in 2014.
Chris Parkin of Offpeak Games, presented the pitch for his multiplayer virtual reality game, Valiant. Valiant sits among the highest rated VR games on Oculus Share, has had over 12,000 downloads, and a five-star rating. Chris then spoke about where he saw virtual reality in the very near future, and left our audience optimistic about the various applications for AR and VR within the technology and research space at UWA.
The UWA staff who attended came from a wide range of disciplines, including geology, physics, archaeology, engineering, history, biological and computer sciences, psychology and architecture. All had immensely positive comments about the showcase, and hope for future events based around UWA’s current research capabilities in the VR/AR space.
Meetings like this are a rare opportunity to learn from developers about what is already happening, what is coming, and how UWA can engage with technologies which are potentially as revolutionary as smartphones and the internet.