Microsoft

Darren Bennett Microsoft HoloLens from our VR/AR Global Summit 2018 (Video)

Participate in our upcoming Summits in Europe and Boston! More info here

From his first days at Microsoft, Darren has been focused on innovation. His initial prototype contributions to KINECT came early in the platforms development and wowed execs, and he quickly progressed to creative direction of KINECT Adventures. The title offered a new arena for human interaction and was a critical piece in future exploration of human expectation for natural interactions. Darren moved from success at KINECT to leading edge development, from concept to ship, on Microsoft HoloLens. He drove software incubation efforts, creative direction of the experiences portfolio and finally, shipped UX for the first Mixed Reality operating system - Windows Holographic. Today, he's back home in British Columbia and applying the power of Mixed Reality to the modern workplace.


Participate in our upcoming Summits in Europe and Boston! More info here

2017: A Year in Review (Vancouver Chapter)

Where did all the time go?! 2017 was a busy year for VRARA Vancouver, as our first full one year as a chapter in Vancouver. As a chapter, we hosted 6 events in total with 60 new VRARA members.

Vancouver is making a name for developing into a global hub for VR/AR/MR – serving as a home to 130+ innovative companies in this space. We are proud of this homegrown talent, and in 2017 we created VR/AR Ecosystem Map to showcase our local ecosystem. Our first version was launched in Fall 2017, and we plan to update it every quarter – if we missed you in this version or have any suggestions, give us a shout!

 
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We kicked off the year with a sold out event, VR/MR: Beyond Gaming, which took place at the TELUS Garden Flex Space on February 23rd. Kharis O’Connell, author of Designing For Mixed Reality, led the keynote speech on practical usage of VR/MR. Immersive technology is best known to mainstream audience for its usage in gaming. We wanted to break this shell and discuss further on the possibilities of integrating virtual and mixed reality not just in business, but also in our daily lives in the near future.

 
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Read more on VR/MR: Beyond Gaming

Consumer Virtual Reality (CVR) can’t be missed when discussing immersive technology in Vancouver! CVR 2017 expanded into three whole days after it received overwhelmingly positive response in its inaugural year in 2016. Oh, and did we mention after party? VRARA Vancouver hosted the Official CVR Industry Day After party on May 5th at the Roxy. The night was filled with sips and bites, networking, Mega McGrath’s live painting auction for the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, and a performance by Alex Maher.

 
 

More than before (especially with Apple ARKit launch this year), we’ve heard business discuss more on how they are integrating immersive technology to enhance consumer engagement. We’re already seeing plenty of big players like GE, NASA, IKEA, BMW, Verizon and more getting a head start on VR/AR. Our event Branding For the Future hosted at Hootsuite HQ on September 28th was just about that. We had Alan Smithson, CEO of MetaVRse, and Mira Leung, lead in Google ARCore team, discuss how businesses can start strategizing now to get ahead of the game before the technology becomes mainstream.    

 
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Read our highlights and watch the keynote and panel discussion.

Last but not least, we wrapped up our year with Growing Innovation: Investment Opportunities for VR/AR on November 30th at BCIT Downtown Tech Hub. By 2020, VR/AR will be a $150billion industry and with Vancouver leading the charge, we wanted to start a discussion on how to venture into this rapidly developing ecosystem. We brought together VR/AR thought leader Tom Emrich from Super Ventures, along with expert panel fireside chat with notable investors and tech executives, and finish with a round of 10 lighting pitches from local VR/AR startups – something we’ve done for the first time!

 
 

A lot has happened in the VR/AR/MR industry globally in 2017. Here are some highlights from what’s happened right here in our city of Vancouver.

Vancouver’s first ever VR film festival (YVRFF) was a huge success with a sold out weekend.

 
 

Chapter President Dan Burgar represented the VR/AR tech sector with Archiact / VR AR Association at the United Nations Peacekeeping Conference.

 
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Motive.io successfully won the contract of $482,000+ through the Government of Canada to bring Canada's history to Ottawa.

 
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Microsoft President Brad Smith promoted Vancouver as a virtual reality 'supercluster.'

 
 

BC Tech launched The Cube, Canada's First Virtual, Augmented, and Mixed Reality Hub.

 
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LNG Studios worked with Concord Pacific on their Brentwood development project and used virtual reality to showcase the new condos before any were built.

 
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VRARA Vancouver would like to thank you all for being part of our community and making all this happen in 2017! We are working on many exciting ways to bring value to our members in 2018 so stay connected through our social channels and subscribe to our monthly newsletter. If you would have any suggestions or feedback, please contact Chapter President Dan Burgar at dan@thevrara.com.

 
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Vancouver's Chapter of the VR/AR Association Makes VR/AR/MR accessible

Article originally posted by The Georgia Straight, can be found here and written by Kate Wilson, March 9th, 2017. 

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Imagine a world where you can hold up a cellphone in front of a restaurant, and instantly see Yelp reviews, flip through a digital menu, and have the option to book a table. Then consider driving a car with a smart windshield, which displays digital graphics on top of the driver’s real-life view. And then try to wrap your mind around a world where screens have become completely obsolete—because individuals can conjure computer displays through contact lenses or glasses.

According to Dan Burgar, president of the Vancouver chapter of the VR/AR Association, that day is almost upon us. Working to develop awareness of virtual reality (VR)—the technology where users wear an immersive headset to experience three-dimensional environments—and augmented reality (AR)—the practice of superimposing computer-generated images onto a user’s view of the real world—Burgar finds it difficult to think of an industry where the hardware would not generate a huge leap forward.

“I think the thing that will blow people’s minds the most is the practical applications,” he tells the Straight, reached by phone at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. “The gaming stuff is really fun, and the entertainment side is really interesting, but what I get most excited about is how widespread it’s going to become in everyday life, whether it’s in professions like healthcare, where people can operate without having a human body in front of them, or just walking around on the street.

“It’s already beginning to be used in areas like building development, where it gives architects the tools to manipulate their creations in three-dimensions,” he continues. “Real estate is using it to allow customers to visualize unbuilt spaces, and to view properties without actually having to visit them. And it’s becoming important in education, where it’s possible to train individuals in areas like oil and gas extraction by just putting on the headset. That allows you to get as close as possible to a real-life experience before entering a dangerous situation.”

Vancouver is fast becoming a hub for VR and AR—a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the B.C. government. Not only has the province invested $100 million in venture capital for British Columbian tech companies, it’s recently started offering a tax credit specifically for virtual and augmented reality. It’s that forward-thinking approach, Burgar says, that inspired him to create a VR/AR Association chapter in the city.

“If I had to sum it up, I’d say that the VR/AR Association is a community of the best minds making use of virtual reality and augmented reality,” he comments. “So far there are 28 branches, including places as far-flung as New Zealand, Russia, and the UAE. The goal is to connect businesses and organizations with the developers and service providers working with the technology. We want to band together with companies to figure out what the best practices are, and how we can connect together to move the industry along.

“Our Vancouver chapter has about 30 members,” he continues, “but there are more than 50 companies here that are dabbling in virtual reality or working on augmented reality development, and that number increases every day. We are continually connecting local businesses with Vancouver developers, and figuring out how to use this technology creatively.”

As well as pointing out its versatility in a business to business setting, Burgar is keen to bring VR and AR to the local public. Recently organizing an event at Canuck Place—a hospice that offers palliative care services for sick children in B.C.—the VR/AR Association staff spent a day introducing the kids to the headsets.

“Community engagement is really important to our organization,” Burgar says. “We live in such a great city, and any way that we can give back is big for us. It feels great to be able put a smile on the kids’ faces by putting them in VR goggles and getting them out of the hospital with games, or transporting them to different virtual locations, and letting them immerse themselves in fantastic worlds. We want to continue cultivating and helping out Vancouverites in any way possible, and we have some initiatives we’re working on that will bring this technology to the community.

“Our next big VR and AR event is called CVR,” he continues, “which is the Pacific Northwest’s leading virtual, augmented, and mixed reality expo. We’re expecting between 8000 and 10,000 people. The Friday will be an industry day, and people like NASA, CNN, and the government of Canada will be there to discuss where VR and AR fit in their industry. Then we open it up to the public for the weekend, where anyone can come and try it out. We think it’s important that this technology is accessible to everyone—because this is the future.”

CVR is at the Vancouver Convention Centre from May 5 to May 7. More information about the VR/AR Association can be found here, and the official page for the Vancouver chapter can be located here.

VR AR at Microsoft in NYC

It was an awesome event at Microsoft NYC filled with demos and fun next-generation experiences. One demo that stood out was the VR Motion Simulator. Virtual reality has long been a dream of gamers everywhere. Given Microsoft’s interest in VR (i.e., HoloLens) and games (I.e. Xbox), the next big opportunity could be this motion simulator “unit” that I took for a test-drive, which combines motion with VR. Playing a car racing game, the unit gave me an immersive experience that I “felt” like never before; In addition to “seeing” the experience in VR, the unit also enabled me to “feel” every turn, spin, or accident with other cars by simulating the motion.  The prototype cost is about $3500, pricy, but cost will come down with mass production of these units. Coming near you at your local amusement park, arcade room, or your future in-house set!