Walking through SIGGRAPH, the long-running annual Computer Graphics conference that took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center last week, there is always a small worry that there won't be anything too exciting.  Luckily this time, the exhibiting companies did not disappoint.  And the reason is quite obvious:  As mentioned in my previous post the Visualization sector is hot due to recent $billion+ investments by Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft into Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technology.

What surprised me at SIGGRAPH: Headsets, headsets, headsets!

The most obvious was the sheer amount of immersive demonstrations with various Virtual Reality headsets from Oculus Rift to Samsung VR to HTC Vive to Goggle Tech and Google Cardboard.  On the higher end of these experiences, especially if you are - like me - also interested in industrial applications, was the Ford Immersive Vehicle Environment, where you can shine a virtual torch while exploring the car from all angles.  In fact, when I bumped into design friends from Teague, I heard that Boeing's VR environment is an incredible 30ft x 40ft and allows two people to walk through a virtual aircraft simultaneously - a truly stunning feat. Yet, Ford and Boeing will be the first to admit that their environments require a relatively large amount of computing power, whereas tomorrow's tectonic shift is happening on the consumer side with the likely mainstream adoption of VR by Sony Playstation and Microsoft Xbox, both of whom want to own the next generation immersive VR game console; with Facebook, HTC, Samsung, Apple not sitting idly by.  Similarly, we can safely expect that in the next 3 years, the first 360 degrees VR movies and games will be released to a wide consumer audience.  Movie watching (and movie making) will never be the same.  The industrial applications will rapidly follow suit.

Companies to Watch

  • Nurulize, a startup that is making fascinating strides in 360 VR movies & interactive experiences as well as groundbreaking realtime environment rendering innovation.  The development team includes several award-winning programmers, with whom I've had the pleasure to work in the past.
  • Nozon, a VFX studio, that has released PresenZ, a very effective solution for adding parallax to 360 VR Movies, which removes the motion sickness that most people feel when using a VR headset. Therefore, it is a critical solution for encouraging wider consumer adoption of headsets.
  • Nokia last month announced OZO (pictured above), the first commercially available virtual reality (VR) camera designed and built for professional content creators. This will be the first of many professional VR cameras, another clear sign that 360 movies are coming soon to a theater near you and that Microsoft is betting big on VR with Xbox, Nokia and Minecraft.