Virtual Reality Conference – First in the Philippines

Posted on Posted in Development

We’re rarely first when it comes to technology adoption. Some technologies, such as NFC and Mobile Banking (Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay) we haven’t fully adopted yet. So what about Virtual Reality, what’s our status regarding the adoption of this technology?

It’s science fiction a few decades ago, but now its here;  virtual reality is still on its infant stages, but just like the revolutionary of the smartphone industry a few years ago, the development of the technology is on a steamroll. Now, smartphones has reached a point that it somehow stagnates in its development compared to how it was a few years ago. So what’s the next big thing you might ask – one of them could be Virtual Reality.

Going back to the question: what’s our status regarding virtual reality adoption? Good news is that we’re not going lagging behind. We have a great community around VR (Virtual Reality) – from development, photography, and even animation. And this was proven on the recent Virtual Reality Conference (the first in Philippines) last June 25, 2016.

Prior to the conference event, a VR hackathon was made by the same organizers from June 10-12. The teams that made it through then presented their works in the recent conference that came.

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The 12 teams that made VR applications for only 2 days presented their work in the conference

Most of the team creations were games with the exception of one from VROS, which was instead intended for educational use. But a common theme was present in all of their work –  Immersion.

This is perhaps the key selling point of VR – the immersive feeling that you’re part of that world, that you’re in a different dimension from where you are despite being in the same place. Even before the advent of VR technology, a lot of money has gone to recreate this immersive experience using different technologies. Notable implementations are IMAX 3D Theaters, Wii Controllers and even the Xbox Kinect.

And now that the VR technology is here, its no surprise that several OEM’s are developing their own implementations of VR. Google, Microsoft, HTC, Samsung, Steam and Oculus (Facebook) are all bandwagoning in an effort to gain a lead in the VR market (and more importantly patents).

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Some of the major OEM’s on their current VR implementations

Several key speakers were also present in the VR conference. Here are some of them that have garnered my attention during the event:

Wataru Terashima of Neun Farben PH gave a short presentation regarding his company background. Neun Farben is (quote from site): an international computer animation studio that aims at the creation of high-end computer graphics and visual effects for films,commercials, promotional videos, games, and web sites.

It seems that their company is now also tackling VR animation development as part of their portfolios. And from what I have seen in their booth so far, their works are definitely amazing and world class.

Sample pamphlets from their booth at the conference. Best I can show you to demonstrate their works. They also have a sample VR animation which you could check during the event.

Their studio is also hiring interns, animators and web developers. So for those interested, definitely check their site for more information.

Fung Yu, photographer and journalist, promoted pamana.ph, a site containing collection of several heritage sites shot in 360°.

For those unfamiliar, a 360° (or Virtual Reality) photography – is the interactive viewing of wide-angle panoramic photographs, generally encompassing a 360-degree circle or a spherical view (description source from Wikipedia).

Yu specializes in shooting 360° photography – way back even before the availability of  360° cameras, which he says is done by doing image stitching by himself manually, allowing for a better quality and higher resolution shots.

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Sample aerial shot of the Banaue Rice Terraces. All credits goes to Fung Yu for the image

Yu’s 360 photography is also complimented by his use of one of the most technological breakthroughs of these time – drones.  He uses a DJI Phantom III Pro for his aerial shots, something now made possible using these devices. Even more impressive is the fact that while that Phantom III Pro is equipped with a camera, it is by no means a 360° camera. His 360° aerial shots are also done, as is with most of his other works, using manual image stitching.

Again, you can check more of Fung Yu’s work at pamana.ph, which not only showcases his amazing 360 photography, but showcases it to promote our country’s heritage sites, which shows his strong patriotism for our country.

Lastly, Edmund Salcedo, a VR Developer from Cagayan De Oro, while unable to attend the event physically, gave an inspiring video (which was rendered using his talents) on the know-hows on getting started in VR development.

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Sample render of Edmund’s work at the event (apologies for the low-res shot)

While not divulging too much on details, Edmund’s presentation focused on 3 best practices for VR development. First, know your device, platform and game engine. Second, know your constrains (sickness, performance and temperature). And lastly, a frame-rate of 60 fps or above should be standard when it comes to performance.

Its great to see such a talented VR developer and his works, not to mention one which isn’t residing in the capital. This just goes to show how big VR will be, and how certain areas of the Philippines are also being influenced by it – not limited to the NCR (National Capital Region).

Honorable mentions for presenter goes to Ryan Tan Yu from Cebu, a product developer  of Mata VR, which shows his own uptake of the VR equipment. Other companies were also present to showcase their own VR works such as Chibot Media and Vobling, which also showcased great VR implementations for both architectural and game implementations.

Virtual reality is going to be huge. The potential implementation of the technology is almost endless: virtual conferences, immersive gaming, animations, product showcases – there’s alot that can be done in VR.

Its even become the theme of several literature works – probably one of the most notable being the successful light novel/anime Sword Art Online, which first debuted in 2009/2012. Now that the technology is here, it is worth mentioning is that IBM Japan is actual works of developing the game based on the original literature content. So a NerveGear (or whatever it will be called now) shouldn’t be too far into the future.

And we’re part of this revolutionary; Virtual Reality is not limited to first-world countries like the US or EU countries. Perhaps this is also one of the results of our economic growth that has long been mentioned in the news?

One thing’s for sure: Virtual Reality is coming, and we’re coming along with it.

  • Pingback: Digital Trends 2016 – Virtual Reality | Syd Evangelista()

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