Virtual Reality Developers Conference in San Francisco, CA
The Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) takes place twice a year: once as main event and once as a side event during the Game Developers Conference (GDC). Last year, VRDC took place on the 2nd and 3rd of November and the GDC-version was held on the 27th and 28th of February 2017. VRDC has always been part of the GDC to begin with, taking up no more than a small area of the conference floor, but turned out to be popular enough to deliver an event on its own. However celebrated, it’s still a rather small event with about 500 visitors. It’s still in its early stages and will grow out to be a significant event.
The Virtual Dutch Men, speaker on VRDC
During last year’s VRDC in 2016, our CEO Roelof Terpstra and studio manager Bart Kok were invited to participate in a panel about the future of healthcare. At the panel, they received a lot of input, feedback and questions about the implementation of virtual reality in healthcare.
Even though GDC has a wider range of large companies than VRDC – such as Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and Oculus – it offered an interesting program. Significant innovators in the virtual reality scene were present, such as Qualcomm, who showcased an inside-out camera tracking technique that makes it possible to move around in a space without the use of external sensors.
The team of the highly anticipated Fove virtual reality headset – that incorporates high-quality eye tracking – was also present. Their headset worked surprisingly well in many of the scenarios and really adds another dimension to the way we connect with the virtual world. Although the refresh rate and resolution require improvement, what makes Fove a unique headset is the possibility of incorporating foveated rendering. This technique only renders the parts of your vision that you are focusing on in high detail, which could mean that future applications require lower system requirements. The manufacturers are constantly analyzing the way people focus on certain objects to improve their algorithms. Of course, The Virtual Dutch Men are proud backers of this project and already have a Fove headset at the office to develop new virtual reality experiences that incorporate eye tracking.
Google Daydream was also to be admired at VRDC. Our experience wasn’t really exciting though, as the headset and phone seem to have the habit of overheating constantly and the remote control that comes with it required a reset time to keep working. However, the new platform – a hub with tiles – is quite an improvement.
The other thing we got to experience was a Project Tango tablet: a commercial device from Lenovo running Google Tango technology. Project Tango consists of a sensor fusion, and just like the HoloLens, it can map its environment. Aside from a few little flaws, the device worked like a charm.
There were a lot of interesting sessions at VRDC, such as the presentation on audio design from the Void, basic information about creating 360-content that is comprehensible and a session about how to stimulate people to get them to do something by themselves. Unfortunately, it was also a bit chaotic, as at a certain moment there were four sessions going on at the same time. Even though VRDC is a small event, it still offers a lot to learn from the sessions and networking.