The Computer History Museum, CA.

Tickets are now available for the first Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) Conference and Expo event. To mark the event, Karl Krantz walks us through the short but already history of the social event from which it was born.

SVVR Expo Gathers Momentum

The SVVR Conference and Expo, an event designed specifically to highlight current and forthcoming advances in virtual reality technologies and entertainment, will have it’s first formal Conference and Expo on May 19th-20th at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA.

Tickets are now available to purchase online. Prices start at $350 for Indie Developers and $450 for regular tickets.

Get SVVR Conference & Expo Tickets

The conference organiser have just confirmed that Second Life creator and co-founder of High Fidelity Inc., Philip Rosedale, will be speaking. Rosedale joins SVVR’s Emce “Cymatic” Bruce in the current lineup of speakers at this years event.

Road to VR are excited to be media partners of the event, having followed the SVVR meetup story from the beginning. So, to explain how and why the new conference came to be, Karl Krantz, founder and organiser of the SVVR movement, has been kind enough to write us a brief history detailing just that.

A Brief History of the SVVR Meetup

Karl Krantz, SVVR Founder
Karl Krantz, SVVR Founder

It was just about a year ago that (Cymatic) Bruce and I met up at a coffee shop in San Jose and began planning the first SVVR meetup. We wanted to create a positive collaborative environment where people who were genuinely excited about this new technology could get together and share their ideas, projects, and enthusiasm. We both admire the early personal computer pioneers and we spoke about how the legendary Homebrew Computer Club would be our inspiration. The Homebrew Computer Club was a place where so many early computer hackers and engineers like Steve Wozniak and Bill Gates would share and discuss their experiments and creations long before the rest of the world saw the potential in what they were doing.

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Even at that time, we half-joked that if we held these monthly events for a whole year and they had any traction, we should host a conference to celebrate our one year anniversary. I’m an optimist when it comes to VR, so I had no doubt that interest in VR would grow, but I have to admit that I am pleasantly surprised at how much has happened, and how far things have progressed over the past year.

"Cymatic" Bruce Wooden, Emcee of the SVVR Meetups
“Cymatic” Bruce Wooden, Emcee of the SVVR Meetups

Since then our little hobby is showing all the signs of growing into a real industry. Since the beginning, our monthly SVVR events are consistently packed and usually have a wait list. We’ve been lucky enough to have some real VR legends attend and speak at our events, and we’ve met more talented young developers and hackers than we can count. We’ve served as a testing ground for a steady stream of prototypes and fascinating new products.

Last year I wondered if a dedicated conference for consumer VR was too radical. Now as we are coming up on the one year anniversary of that first SVVR meetup, not only do I think it’s a good idea whose time has come, I think it’s absolutely necessary.

Every industry needs it’s own independent conference, and we realized very early on that SVVR is in the best position to put together a conference for the consumer VR space. What we didn’t want was for a professional conference business to come into the space from the outside because they see VR as a profitable new trend, and apply a bland cookie-cutter format to our beloved little corner of the universe.

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There is no denying that there is a special kind of energy and excitement in our community, and those qualities are worth preserving and building upon.

The story of consumer VR is the story of people who are passionate about a dream. It was that passion that kept VR alive long after it was considered a dead-end by most of the world. It was the grassroots support for this dream that got Oculus off the ground with their Kickstarter campaign. That shared dream is the backbone of our community.

“..we realized very early on that SVVR is in the best position to put together a conference for the consumer VR space”

As VR starts to get everyone’s attention again, I think it’s important that we work to preserve the strong sense of community and that sense that many of us are working on realizing a dream that is much larger than ourselves.

Why Now?

With this first conference we are planting our flag. We are learning the ropes of hosting this type of event while the numbers are still manageable, because next year we will be even larger still. We might not get everything right, but we are going to create the kind of VR conference that we wish existed; a positive, intellectually stimulating environment packed with VR developers, entrepreneurs, dreamers, and visionaries, and plenty of cool demos.

We are doing a few unique things that we hope will help us keep the spirit of our SVVR meetups and provide extra value to the small indie developers or early stage startups.

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1. We have a dedicated “open demo” area adjacent to the expo floor, just like we have at all of our monthly meetups. Developers who have project they would like to show off, but who don’t have the resources to rent a booth, will have plenty of table space and power to show off their work.

2. We are going to begin our conference with a rapid-fire pitch session. Any attendee or exhibitor with a VR related project will have one minute to pitch their startup, project, kickstarter, or booth to the whole audience. We hope to showcase 30-40 demos this way, on a first come, first serve basis.

The Homebrew Computer Club Reunion, 2001. Image courtesy of Bambi.net.
The Homebrew Computer Club Reunion, 2001. Image courtesy of Bambi.net.

One of my proudest moments at an SVVR event was when an older gentleman approached me and told me how much fun our event was, and how it reminded him of an event he used to attend when he was much younger: that event was the Homebrew Computer Club. Since then we’ve had several former Homebrew Computer Club members attend our events and remark on the similarities.

Karl and Bruce have been tirelessly evangelising VR since the SVVR’s inception and there are few people better placed to focus the growing interest and passion in virtual reality on such an event. We very much look forward to witnessing the SVVR Expo grow in years to come.

We wish Karl and the team behind the new Conference the best of luck and will of course be reporting direct from the event in May. If you want to find out more, head over to the SVVR Expo website.

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  • fourfity

    I assume the ticket is solid gold and encrusted with diamonds for $450?

    • Ben Lang

      The price is actually quite reasonable compared to other industry conferences.

    • Karl Krantz

      Hi Fourfity, I’m sorry that you feel the price is high (although anyone reading Road to VR is more likely to be paying $350, not that $450). We have priced it lower than just about all of the conferences of this size and scope that we have modeled this on. We are not in this to get rich off of this community. This is our community. The price is as low as possible to allow us to do this without losing money, and without gouging the exhibitors, who are in many cases are also small bootstrapped or kickstarted companies born from this community.

      We have provided a limited # of $100 discount codes for people within the SVVR group, and I have just created a new code to extend this discount to Road to VR readers. RTOVR2014 will bring the price down to $250 in most cases.

  • snake0

    Philip Rosedale? Holy shit maybe he’ll actually talk about that vaporware project High Fidelity. Probably not though, lol

    • Karl Krantz

      Philip will definitely be talking about and demonstrating High Fidelity.

      The term “vaporware” is generally reserved for projects that are hyped for a long time and never released. High Fidelity was only founded in the last year or two, and is completely open source and available on Github. You can download it right now and build it today. I wish all companies were this transparent with their development progress.

      High Fidelity was demonstrated to a packed house at the last SVVR Meetup and I think everyone there was thoroughly impressed.