Everything You Missed at SXSW’s VR/AR Track

All the hype around virtual reality and the predictions of augmented reality have actually manifested this year. SXSW and now GDC 2016 may be the first renown conferences to create dedicated VR/AR tracks.

Virtual reality was out in full effect during these past few days at SXSW Interactive and augmented reality made its appearances as well. Augment was active at the SXSW EDU course, educating those interested on how we help bring augmented reality to classrooms.

Innovative tech surely wore its glitz and glamour in Texas this week. Here’s the highlights from the VR/AR world at SXSW 2016:

McDonald’s shows us VR for advertising

The VR/AR installments at SXSW were more than just the wearable hardware, they often featured hands-on, life size activations in full room exhibits.

The McDonald’s exhibition did just that but their VR experience was much more on the advertising side, no surprise here. The McDonald’s Loft joined hands with the HTC Vive for the pop-up that turned the room into the inside of a McDonald’s Happy Meal. Through VR, the walls become a white canvas allowing viewers to virtually paint the inside of the happy meal box.

Through the Vive’s controllers, one hand holds the multi-colored paint wheel and the other was a shape shifting paint gun. McDonald’s undoubtedly took the opportunity to remind you of their logo wherever they saw fit, as expected.

Many brands seek to use VR to make advertising more of an experience for consumers. The McDonald’s Loft at SXSW is only the beginning of this era.

Samsung Gear VR Lounge at SXSW

Samsung has been very active in the virtual reality space, especially when it comes to live exhibitions. Their SXSW ’16 appearance would fall right in line. The Samsung Gear VR Lounge was essentially a 4D studio with motion simulated chairs that virtually recreated two popular roller coaster rides from Six Flags.

Twisted Colossus, a dynamic dual rollercoaster, and Tatsu, a hanging roller coaster with a great view of the (virtual) sky, are both available for you to ride from the comfort of Samsung’s couch.

Sony’s Augmented Reality Projector Creates an Interactive Table Top

Emerging from Sony’s Future Lab, Sony’s Interactive Tabletop amazed many faces at SXSW ’16. The projector uses depth sensors and motion tracking to recognize when objects are placed on the table. The concept even comes with some pre-programming that reads literature in a visual manner. A copy of Alice in Wonderland was placed on the interactive tabletop and the table began to play animations that corresponded with the page. The Sony prototype also responds to any finger selection made by tracking your hand motion and identifying the object through the light projection.

Sony has stressed that this is only a prototype so we don’t yet know when this will be available for consumers but it’s definitely made way for an exciting future!

Former Stanford Coach Brings VR to Football

The NFL has been at the forefront of bringing innovative technology into the sports arena and this is another big step in that direction. Strivr, a sports focused VR company, has a system that positions a camera on the field during practices, later allowing players and coaches to relive plays in a controllable environment.

The Arkansas team uses this system to observe and learn through real gameplay simulations. Five NFL teams and nine other college programs also use Strivr to better their football organizations. Last year, Strivr filmed 20,000 plays for clients at the NFL Combine. Founded by a former Stanford Football coach, this startup is set to bring a new, virtual vision to the football field.

Meta 2 Demo

The Meta 2 has been on everyone’s radar as of recent months so they took the opportunity to preview their AR headset live to a select group at SXSW ‘ 16. CEO Meron Gribetz gives a three minute presentation of how the Meta 2 brings augmented reality to your everyday life. He even asserts that AR, at this capacity, will replace phones in coming years. The most impressive part of the demo is when Gribetz actually engages in conversation with a hologram, to whom he virtually gives a high-five. Pretty cool right?

The Meta 2 shows that you can manipulate virtual elements without hand controlled hardware which sets them apart from the few other headsets in their class.

NASA Lets You Play Astronaut

NASA’s week long appearance at SXSW was set to solve one misconception. After the closing of NASA’s space shuttle program in 2011, the public was under the impression that the agency was no longer. To clear the confusion, the space agency brought a virtual reality installment to show how future crewed shuttle missions will happen.

“A lot of people thought when the space shuttle was retired, NASA was going away,” said Kirk Pierce, NASA’s communications strategist for the Space Launch System (SLS). “No, we are now working to go further than we ever have before.”

NASA’s booth has been flooded with individuals ready to look at their space film through the eyes of an Oculus Rift. The virtual journey takes viewers on a ride to the top of the SLS, which will be more than 300 feet tall in actuality.


Augmented reality will soon be a featured track at the SXSW rollout but it’s even more amazing to see how such innovative technology is being accepted and implemented by powerful brands. Augment is an augmented reality mobile solution that’s free to use! Get the jump start on innovative tech yourself.

*This page will be updated with SXSW VR/AR news throughout the week.


Originally published at www.augment.com on March 16, 2016.

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