Mar 1st, 2017, 11:45 AM

Virtuality 2017

By Stephanie Alex
Image Credit: Facebook/Virtuality Paris 2017
The virtual reality exhibition that was more than a gaming experience.

Paris hosted the first virtual reality exhibition, Virtuality 2017. From February 24th to 26th, around 100 exhibitors converged at Le Centquartre. The exhibition featured seventy talks, and six networking sessions In partnership with companies like Microsoft, Unity and Samsung, experts in the field got together to showcase virtual reality (VR) and immersive technologies. The exhibition was divided into two floors which focused mainly on gaming, travel, health, sport, film, design, and marketing. The event ended two weeks ago, but you can still take a virtual tour of the place in the video bellow.

Virtuality Paris 2017 à 360°

For those who haven’t tried it yet, virtual reality is an immersive experience which allows the user to submerse his or herself into a digital environment using smart goggles. VR works using head tracking information which allows you to see a 360-degree view of the given scenario. It makes the user feel present, since they are able to react in real time throughout the experience.

Virtual Reality, which many perceive to be a relatively new technology, is not as young as it seems. It can be traced back to Michelangelo’s al fresco paintings in the Sistine Chapel, when the feeling of immersion is created by the realistic art which creates an almost 3D experience. After different attempts at similar technologies, the official term of virtual reality emerged in 1968 when an Associate professor of Harvard, Ivan Sutherland created the first VR headset using an equipment that resembles the idea we know today.

The rapid growth of the mobile industry gave the green light for this kind of technology to grow in the market. VR gear is portable, ready to wear and simple to set up. Smartphones make virtual reality accessible to anyone who owns one. From Google cardboard starting at $15, it is not hard to take part in the technological revolution. Another company that is following the trend is Nokia after being acquired by HDML and Foxconn (apple’s biggest manufactory partner) in 2016. 

Image Credit: Facebook/ Virtuality

"Virtual reality is not really new it has been a around has a concept for decades, what has changed recently is our ability to create context on a reasonable time span and to distribute it to reasonable channels to compatible devices. If I reach in my pocket and I take my phone out you can see that the smartphone is what has allowed the success of this technology because VR develops from the device we already have” -Roland Morcom, Nokia Head of Sales of European Region

The Finnish based company launched the first professional 360-degree virtual reality camera known as the Nokia OZO last year in Europe— the next best thing after Nokia’s snake game.  “We offer real time real time stitching with 360-degree context to enable live streaming so people can have a television effect and receive live content” Roland Morcom said. The camera is intended to be for professional film use, however there are no limitations when it comes to what ways this camera can be used.  "I know various charity organizations like the Clinton Foundation that use this kind of technology to create empathy through first person experiences, it is a way for donors to be able to travel to a place that they wouldn’t be necessarily able to travel experience the conditions in virtual reality, to understand the cause which is being supported by the charity.”

Four Walls Teaser 360

Another company exhibited was Immersiv, which creates apps for sport industry clients such as FIFA and the NFL. Community Manager, Jennifer Tabet, explained the company's objectives. “Our mission is to help people have a new experience when it comes to watching sports. We are trying to offer solutions to companies by creating sport applications that gives the feeling of insights through virtual reality." These apps also provide features like statistics, replays options, data of the game and are offered for both athletes and spectators.

Image Credit: Facebook/ Virtuality

Regardless of the allure that the name virtual reality might have attached to it, many companies at the event were small, for example Reeality, a four month old local company is composed of only six team members. Reeality primerlaly focuses on creating 360-degree videos, virtual and augmented reality. Co-founder, Lucas Doppelt talked about his current experience and how they are handling working in a relatively unknown field. "Everyday a new things comes out in this field, we experiment a lot. For us making 360-degree videos are quite difficult because the cameras are still inadequate for these videos. But in a month they might release a new camera, and then we go back and experiment again. However I believe it is a great field if you want to learn, there is still a lot to be discovered."

Image credit: Facebook/Géode VR

If you missed the chance to attending this event, check out Géode VR, the new addition to the museum. It is a section dedicated to virtual reality and it will be running until the end of summer.