intion vr london vr meetup

Kevin Williams once again brings us a report of the latest VR happenings in London. The second Oculus Rift /VR meetup hosted by Inition drew as many as 60 interested individuals and showed off a number of exciting VR demos.

Guest post by – Kevin Williams, KWP

The momentum behind the drive for the full adoption of virtual reality achieved a major milestone with the second London VR Meetup. While this event was the second gathering, its importance was much more of a confirmation that the meetup format worked well, and that interest in the topic was strong – the second event validated the hard efforts by its organizers.

The event took place on the 11th of September, 2013, again at the Inition basement demonstration studio, in the heart of London’s tech sector, the ‘Silicon Roundabout.’  Though it was greeted by the first of the autumnal rainy weather to break the heat-wave that the capital had been basking in, the conditions did not dampen the level of interest in those that made the effort to attend – a wide gathering of professionals, hobbyists and the inquisitive towards the VR opportunity.

Attracting over sixty visitors to the studio (a new record), the Inition team had gathered an amazing selection of the latest VR / Oculus Rift demonstrations. This event also started the first of its new format, with a presentation, kicked off by this guest writer.

Presentations

london oculus rift vr developer meetup

In a 20 minute retrospective of the VR technology, I represented our consultancy KWP and attempted to elucidate the realities that have driven the birth of VR and immersive entertainment, focusing on the lesser known aspects of the application of the technology in Digital Out-of-Home entertainment (DOE) space. The audience was kind enough to give me their attention during this presentation and it was well received – the meetup hopes to attract other professional presentations from all aspects of the VR sector.

Following the presentation; the floor was turned over to Julian Williams of WizDish, who explained the aspects behind the development of their low friction mobility system. The simple and patented VR motion product is fighting its corner as a simple application for locomotion round the virtual environment – and Julian explained many of the benefits of their system compared to competitive devices. Following this, Jake Slack of Animazoo and MocapGames briefly outlined the efforts of the company to create a compelling virtual game experience in the DOE sector, and also revealed his own private project – linked to the Oculus VR Jam 2013.

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Virtual Reality Demos

After these presentations the real draw of the evening began with hands-on of the collected demonstrations on the assembled Rift platforms. In no particular order – Inition showed for the first time a brand new version of their famous Nissan Built to Thrill Wingsuit Experience.

Moving on from the original motion base promotion attraction, Inition had ported the game to a simple installation that allowed users to sit on a swivel chair in front of a powerful fan; and ported to the Oculus Rift VR HMD. The setup allows the user to experience the thrill of jumping from a plane and steering their direction while plummeting to the ground. Inition’s Rift version of Built to Thrill proved a popular experience during the evening.

Jake Slack wore two hats in the demonstration department – first representing his ‘day job’ with the latest version of the MocapGames title SciShooter – with updated gameplay reflecting an ongoing development approach. The company showed a single player version of the game that uses the parent companies Animazoo Motion Capture suit, linked to a target shooting game experience – like Inition, the new version of their game was updated to support the Rift (previously it used the Sony HMZ).

Jake also presented a second system his pet project which earned him a finalist position in the Oculus VR / IndieCade VR Jam. He demoed the game, Private Eye for the first time to the Meetup audience. Borrowing heavily from the famous 1954 film Rear Window, the player views the scene from his wheelchair bound position, spying on his neighbors and attempting to spot crimes and misbehavior, using his controller to operate his binoculars and spot the action – multiple narratives take place that the player can choose to follow. The experience proved very compelling, proving why it was one of the 20 finalists from the 220 ideas selected from (all battling for the $50,000 prize).

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WizDish took space on the 160 degree ImmersaVu wrap-round screen platform that Inition have installed within their comprehensive demonstration space, thrown open to the lucky attendees of the London VR meetup. Many got their first chance to put on the special shoes and try out the VR locomotion platform.

One of the great opportunities that Inition gathered for the attendees to this second meetup was a chance to play Teddy Lipowitz’ technical demonstration Hydra Cover Shooter – a brilliant tour de force, the experience uses the Razer Hydra positional tracker (one unit in the player’s shirt pocket, the other used as the gun interface), and allows the player to shoot at robotic targets while using the natural cover in the virtual world to hide behind to avoid being hit. The demo is a completely compelling and enthralling experience, and a clarion call for the need of true positional tracking in VR experiences.

london vr meetup powergloveAlong with the demonstrations of VR experiences, the team at Inition and myself had collected some archive material from the last heyday of VR – Andy of Inition brought along a Powerglove and some magazines, while I supplied some reprints of previous VR articles and HMD reports from 1994-5; offering a retrospective to the path previously trodden by the first iteration of the technology into the public sector.

Inition excelled themselves regarding hospitality for the event, going on to supply not only drinks, but also pizza that was greatly appreciated by the gathered audience. Going on for many hours, heated discussion was engendered by the gathering, which spilled out and continued at a local pub long after the lights were turned off at the studio. Once again I would personally like to thank the hard efforts of all those involved in organizing the gathering at Inition, and also like to thank those that came up and spoke with me – many a fascinating discussion started, and will hopefully continue at the next meet up planned for the following month.

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On a side note – the Inition demo studios are located close to where Virgin Media opened a self-styled ‘Pop-Up Games Hub’ – called the Virgin Media Game Space (VMGS), which I previously reported on for Road to VR.

Before attending the VR meetup I had a chance to pop into the venue to see how things were going for the VR component of this game space – and I was fascinated to see that the Team Fortress 2 and Strike Suit Zero demonstrations had been swapped out for the new demonstration Volo Airsport by Ramjet Anvil.

Nowhere as polished as the Wingsuit experience seen at the Meetup, it was an example of some home-brew VR experiences getting some face-time through this pop-up venue.

Learn More About the London Oculus Rift / VR Developer Meetup

About the Author – Kevin Williams has an extensive background in in the development and sales of the latest amusement and attraction applications. The UK born specialist in the pay-to-play scene; is well-known through his consultancy, KWP and as a prolific writer and commentator (The Stinger Report) on the emergence of the new entertainment market. Kevin is also the founder of the association and Conference (DNA Association/DNA Conference) that focuses on the digital Out-of Home interactive entertainment sector. Kevin can be reached at – kwp@thestingerreport.com – http://www.thestingerreport.com (both free to subscribe services).

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."