augmented reality

VR/AR Education: Take Classes at BCIT Vancouver

Image Source:  BCIT

Image Source: BCIT

You’d be right in thinking that Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality education has been all the buzz recently - and with good reason.

The VR revolution has arrived and the aptly named ‘empathy machine’ is just at the tipping point of disrupting all industries. With Apple’s release of the ARKit 2 with iOS 12 and Zuckerburg’s standalone Oculus Go VR headset making headlines worldwide, it has never been a more perfect time to consider a career in emerging technology. (Not to mention, the global augmented reality market is expected to grow significantly to about 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020 with 1 billion users!)

What does all this mean? Strap on a headset, reach for your controller and get ready to future-proof your career. When immersive technology comes knocking - you’ll be prepared.

Where can I learn? BCIT is one of Vancouver’s treasured educational institutions, with campuses in Downtown Vancouver and in Burnaby. In the fall of 2017, BCIT launched their Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VRAR) Statement of Completion comprising of four part-time courses offered by the BCIT School of Computing and Academic Studies. Check them out below!

COMP 1011 - UX/UI Fundamentals begins with a focus on user experience (UX) and introduces user interface (UI) design.

COMP 1910 - Introduction to 3D Simulations and VR/AR focuses on how to create 3D models with multiple tools to create a simple Unity AR/VR/MR demo.

COMP 2012 - Applied UX/UI for VR/AR transforms existing 2D/3D content and evolves interface concepts based on UCD for MR environments.

COMP 3919 - Applied VR/AR Project applies story-boarding, rapid prototyping and user testing for a VR/AR/MR Project.

With Vancouver globally respected as one of the top VR/AR hubs in the world, and with over 130+ local members in the VRARA’s Vancouver chapter alone, British Columbia is proving itself to be a (virtual) force to be reckoned with.

Apply to one of BCIT’s programs now to join the rapidly growing VR/AR community in Vancouver, and get the skills you need to make, design and reshape your own realities!

Member Spotlight: Morfus Mixed Reality

We caught up with Sean Huang, CEO and Co-founder of Morfus VR, to discuss his inspiration for Morfus, XR's disruption of the architectural industry and why portable VR is the future of Virtual Reality

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Tell us about yourself Sean - who are you and where does your company Morfus fit in the VR/AR industry?

I am the CEO and Co-founder of Morfus Mixed Reality, a Vancouver and Shanghai-based mobile VR company specialized in property technology. At Morfus, we convert any 2D or 3D design and model into a fully interactive mobile VR walkthrough for easy visualization and collaboration purposes between creatives.

Going off the question above, what problem are you trying to solve, and particularly within spatial and architectural design?

Each year architectural designs in all format of conceptual renderings or models are used to show clients what the finished building would look like even during the pre-planning stage. Yet, studies indicate that more than 65% of end users often find huge discrepancies between what is being shown before and what is actually being built after. This is due to the lack of visualization and immersion offered as client experience. Since few years back there has been a lot of companies out there in the VR space helping to tackle this problem by letting user walk through a space using PC based VR solutions such as VIVE, however these solutions are costly and users are stuck in a confined space with an expensive headset that needs to be powered by a strong PC unit. At Morfus we take this solution and deliver it on mobile where people can enjoy a live 3D walkthrough and use it as a collaboration tool without having to go out to buy a VIVE.

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Why and how did you come across VR/AR space? Tell us how you first got involved with the technology.

Morfus was started when I wanted to build my own company to stray away from the corporate sales environment. I was a sales manager working at Telus when I met my co-founder and CTO, Avetis, who worked under me during our B2B campaign. One morning on a coffee break we started talking VR after seeing an article featuring Google Daydream, after some thoughts, he proposed the idea of virtual reality as a good solution to real estate since real estate was always a hot topic. Since then I grouped together our other co-founder, Albert and the three of us had started out working on a mobile VR game as a test run while dabbling on some real estate VR solutions on mobile, primarily with using 360 to capture the interiors of houses. However, after researching the Vancouver landscape we found a lot of companies already doing this and more companies were rendering 3D models on PC based VR platforms so we felt focusing on conceptual designs would be more innovative and original especially on mobile.   

At that time coincidentally enough, my friend had purchased an empty lot in Vancouver and was working with contracted developers and architects to build up his ideal home. 

However at that time there were only the conventional floor plans and static renderings he could use to visualize the house as well as sending it to his wife, who was overseas in China. After the house was built they realized there was a huge discrepancy compared to the original designs and ended up spending more money and wasting time renovating and taking apart the walls. It was at this time that my co-founders and I decided to come up with a visualization tool using the power of VR and the accessibility of mobile. 

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What is your proudest work your team has produced so far?

Our proudest work is being able to develop an actual use case for mobile VR in terms of solving the problem of communication and response time between remote teams. Since finishing Chinaccelerator Batch 12 we have not only landed government backed projects but as well we have started engaging in bigger partnerships with city planning and infrastructure maintenance.  

As with any form of innovation in technology, VR/AR/MR is drawing more and more attention and investment due to its potential to make people’s lives better, more efficient, and smarter. Tell us how Morfus is leveraging immersive technology to achieve this.

At Morfus, we want to make this new technology as intuitive and accessible as possible. I feel mobile VR is often overlooked by AR and PC based VR platforms like HTC VIVE or the Rift (their standalone headset counterparts fall in the same category as well) as a "dumbed down" cousin but if we can take a step back and realize that being able to access VRARMR solutions on any smartphone is far more invaluable than creating a cool content on PC based VR. Given our team's sales background and knowing how to promote, sell, and execute a new product in a way that is very easy for people without prior VR knowledge to pick up is crucial to our success with our clients today.

Also, another proud moment we had was getting into top 18 companies out of 200 to present at TechCrunch's Shanghai Startup Competition semi-finals where it shows how a foreign company in VR can out-compete a lot of local companies in the same space, as well as being featured in Forbes China.

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Morfus has focused on working with clients to create immersive walkthrough experience. Is there a particular reason why you chose this area?

We chose this area simply because we have encountered spatial awareness problem among clients of architects, designers all the way to real estate developers. 

It’s interesting that you are focused on creating applications primarily for mobile VR use, due to its accessibility compared to VR headsets that require PC. Still, what we notice is that consumers are still learning about the technology and it’s a relatively new idea. What has been the biggest barrier of adoption you see even with mobile VR use? 

I feel the reason why this industry has yet to take off to hit critical mass is due to the majority of people out there seeing VR as a high-grade equipment that is both costly and troublesome, yet most companies out there in B2B focused sectors especially in architectural or real estate are not innovating in a way to help make VR more accessible and intuitive for people to adopt.

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What are your thoughts on VR/AR industry in Vancouver? How can companies, communities, institutions help to foster growth and adoption?

There are a lot of brilliant tech talents in Vancouver for VR/AR, however, compared to China the demographic of VR companies here are very behind in terms of making VR and AR very accessible to people that have no prior knowledge to VR. In China, you have companies pushing mobile plays for industrial use cases and advanced military simulations.  

 I feel the reason why this industry has yet to take off to hit critical mass is due to the majority of people out there seeing VR as a high-grade equipment that is both costly and troublesome, yet most companies out there in B2B focused sectors especially in architectural or real estate are not innovating in a way to help make VR more accessible and intuitive for people to adopt. I mean sure with PC based VR solutions you can generate better graphics than mobile but at the end of the day if we want to see VR/AR blow up we have to consider how to bridge the gap between industry professionals in the space with people that are illiterate in immersive technology. 

How companies or organizations here can foster growth is to partner up with foreign firms and recruit talents from other parts of the world, the VR/AR association does a fantastic job into creating a cross-border ecosystem to foster growth for this industry. 

As a member what do you wish people knew about VR/AR Association, especially in Vancouver?

To be very transparent I was reluctant to join at first since we were moving some of our operations to Shanghai but after being connected with Dan and people at the VR/AR association I would say for any VR/AR enthusiast whether you are in a startup or working for one to definitely consider joining. The community and support provided through VRAR Association have been great in terms of helping developers and industry professionals stay up to date on the latest VR/AR/MR trends as well as connecting people together. 

What can we expect from Morfus in the next year? 

Amazing things are coming in the next year! We will be announcing more stuff as we go along but now I can say for certain we have decided to expand into Asia as well as applying for a government-backed accelerator program in Dubai referred to us from a fellow batch company out of Chinaccelerator where we plan to work with the Dubai government on tackling technological challenges. 

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VRARA at AWE Asia - Biggest Augmented Reality Show

The Augmented World Expo (AWE) is the largest show for AR. Kris Kolo was invited to speak at the event and establish relationships with China and Chinese companies.  There are over 1000 companies in Asia doing AR, VR, smartglasses, etc. This event was a sample of that. I was really impressed with next-generation HDM's with gaze-activated object recognition with stereoscopic optics, IR LED, EOG Electrodes for wink detection, OR processor, AR 3D shapes, etc. Talk about an "eye mouse" and next-gen interfaces using your eyes! 

While at the show Snapchat or Snap made an announcement in the US about their Spectacles.  There is a lot of tech in Asia that can make anyone's sunglasses smart. Contact kris@thevrara.com for more info!   

 

The VR/AR Association Partners with Tribeca Film Festival for a Special VR Event

New York, NY - The VR/AR Association is pleased to partner with TriBeCa Film Festival on a special VR event on April 19.

Tribeca Film and Hatchery partner with theVR/AR Association to promote an amazing day of VR innovation and imagination.

“Not only is Richard Branson there with a special film screening and the top woman scientist Regina Dugan former DARPA secret projects and now Google Advanced Projects, but also it’s the largest virtual reality activation event with everyone in the audience experiencing a whole talk in live VR with the top VR creators on stage. This is no regular tech event. This event is about showing you the world of the future today, with CEOs and top innovators. Some of the smartest people doing some of the most amazing things,” says Yao Huang, Managing Partner, the Hatchery.

The mutual partnership has a mission in fostering collaboration in the virtual reality and augmented reality communities. We are both very excited to see the VR community grow.

VRARA members get a special batch of discounted tickets. Use code VR75 for 50% off.

“This VR film event will blow your mind,” says Kris Kolodziej, President of the VR/AR Association NYC Chapter.

Agenda and speakers include:

Jason Kelly, New York Bureau Chief of Bloomberg

Bryan Johnson, OS Fund

Jon Iwata, IBM

Dr. James Canton, Institute for Global Futures

Regina Dugan, Google

Meredith Perry, uBeam

VR Headsets

Felix Lajeunesse & Paul Raphael, Felix & Paul Studios , Inside Story: A Journey Into Virtual Reality

Philip Rosedale, High Fidelity

Derek Belch, STRIVR Labs, Virtual Reality in Sports: Immersive Performance Training and Immersive Entertainment

Sir Richard Branson & Jason Hirschhorn, Daring to Dream

Katherine Oliver: Advisor to Bloomberg Philanthropies and Principal of Media and Technology at Bloomberg Associates

Screening: Don't Look Down

Q&A Sir Richard Branson

For more information please visit https://tribecafilm.com/festival/imagination

The VR AR March Event in NYC

The VR/AR Association NYC Chapter Launch event was a huge success.  Hosted at NYU, the event was sold out. The attendees represented a good mix of the NYC’s VR AR community, including Tech companies, Media and Entertainment, and Research.

The event included demos, including the following. David Lobster from NYU’s Holojam VR team showed us the fascinating work NYU is doing with its own VR headset unit.  Asher Weintraub, who is 12-year-old VR creator (Oculus VR), inspired everyone with his passion for VR AR and the work he’s doing.  Dennis Adamo and Owen Bush form Daydream.io showed off their Daydream.VR, a music powered Virtual Reality, which enables anyone to create a fully immersive, sound-responsive, fantastical world from their music collection.

There was a panel of experts, moderated by Chris Pfaff, CEO, Chris Pfaff Tech/Media. Chris is well known in the VR AR community and did a fine job with the following panelists: Marco Ricci, Director of Virtual Reality, EdgeDNA.   Caitlin Burns, Chief Operating Officer, datavized. Ariel Shimoni, Director of Virtual Reality, StartApp. Brad Albert, Founder, Co-founder, Azimyth Studios, and, Miguel Sanchez, Founder of Massideation.

The event concluded with a Startup VC Pitch segment of the program, which was another highlight of the evening.  Two VCs, Shawn Cheng from Vayner Capital and Jonathan Struhl from Indicator Ventures, were the judges for the startups that were pitching.  The audience at the event were also involved in voting the best startup.

The Founder of the VR/AR Association, Nathan Pettyjohn, flew into NYC for the event.  Below is a picture of Kris and Sarah, VR/AR NYC Chapter staff, with Nathan. And, other pictures from the event.  

Video of the event will be posted soon. 

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the NYC Chapter, email Kris@thevrara.com

 

 

AOL Virtual Reality Immersion Summit

Congratulations to AOL for putting such a great event together!  VRARA NYC staff Kris Kolo & Sarah Zhang attended the event, which was hosted at the AOL NYC headquarters. Experts in 360 Video, VR and Augmented Reality presented at the Future Possibilities of VR panel, which was moderated by AOL’s CTO Bill Pence. We also experienced VR tech at the demos fair featuring breakthrough NYC start-ups and industry leaders pre-selected by AOL to attend the event.

NYC VR AR Startups at the event included: SurrealVRIrisVRVisiSonicsFloored, YouVisit, and others. 

Come to our next VR AR event on March 22nd! Register here