Earlier this month, much of the European immersive technology industry gathered in Amsterdam for the VR Days Europe conference. The event is an opportunity for industry leaders to reflect, unite and look toward the future.
The five-day event includes talks, workshops and live-podcasts from the likes of Facebook, SkyVR, Microsoft, Unity, HTC Vive, The Venture Reality Fund and ImmerseUK.
These speakers and panels covered topics ranging from Location Based Entertainment (LBE), the Future of Storytelling, Enterprise, and Healthcare. As financing remains a concern for many makers, the XR Base Investor event and European Financing Market addressed those looking to raise money.
A major focus on this years agenda was both XR Enterprise and funding and turning profits. Many exhibitors showed off their cutting-edge technologies such as Manus VR which uses Haptic Feedback to allow users to ‘feel’ the objects.
VR Days also hosted a smaller Training and Simulation Summit. The 3-hour conference gathered industry leaders from automotive, healthcare, police, defense, first responders, and aviation. Speakers shared the most relevant use cases and showed how proof of concept work can turn into day-to-day implementation.
With VR overtaking video as the most effective means of training in physical activities with broad applications in training and simulations in the healthcare industry, it’s an important area of focus.
One of the largest issues the industry faces is the ability to drive adoption to the medium. VR Days’ XRBASE Investor Event saw 8 startups and scale-ups looking to solve this issue to pitch to leading investors in XR.
The winner Tvori (an immersive creative tool allowing for animating and prototyping in VR at Lightning Speed) won €5,000 from Admix.
The Future of XR
A wider conversation at the conference was the impact that 5G could have on the industry. A highlight session was from Martin Libosk on “Unleashing the full potential of XR with 5G & CloudXR”.
Martin has 14 years in Telco experience and is Co-chair of GSMA Cloud XR Forum which drives the development of 5G and edge cloud-based XR technologies with the ecosystem.
Another focus of VR Days 2019 was science, and specifically VR’s ability to reduce physical/psychological pain and suffering. The Pain & Suffering Reduction Summit gathered researchers and scientists to share and debunk academic papers and share results.
It aimed to help answer the question, how do we steer the healthcare industry to embrace the technology as immersive technology becomes more accessible?
The standout panel was “The Path to Widespread Clinical VR Rollout”. It took an in-depth look at the problems and how the industry can overcome these. It featured Dr JoAnn Difede. Dr Ridede is responsible for the pioneering research at Weill Cornell Medical College of using virtual reality technology in the treatment of PTSD consequent to the WTC attacks and combat-related PTSD.
A memorable area of the conference was The Philosophers’ Salon. An open forum for discussion on the fundamental questions of XR such as “What happens when the virtual world is as realistic as the physical word?”, “Can meaningful relationships exist with virtual characters?”, “ What are the ethical considerations of world-building?” and “How will XR affect the future of our society?”
It allowed attendees to take off their shoes, turn off electronics and immerse themselves in the here and now for a window into the future.
Art and Inspiration
But it wasn’t all about business, enterprise and research at VR Days. A huge part of the conference was dedicated to serving as inspiration and an opportunity to experience some of the leading films and experiences out there.
VR Days 2019 hosted a Museum Morning. Which featured talks by artists, curators, and content creators in XR who are working on projects with cultural and historical significance. Our highlight was ScanLAB Projects co-founder, Matthew Shaw and the BBC discussing their “Invisible Cities Series”.
There is no doubt that VR Days plays an important role in the immersive technology events calendar. It’s the ability to seamlessly marry different areas of the wider industry such as enterprise and funding, research and science and the arts and media are invaluable.
Often these sectors can feel disconnected with little common ground. But VR Days connects these and puts the right people, in the right room at the right time.
And now time for a shameless plug…
At Virtual Umbrella, we have put together our annual XR events calendar featuring over 70 events throughout 2020 you’ll want to be aware of.