With technology constantly advancing, it’s tough to stay on top of the latest trends and future creations, but if there’s one conference that strives to do just that it’s South By Southwest (SXSW). Founded in 1987, SXSW is best known for celebrating the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries. The event has remained an essential destination for global professionals, and features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities.
One of the many opportunities SXSW provides is the chance to test out products that are either out of one’s price range or still in development, giving the user a chance to experience the future of technology. One category that is sure to cause some excitement this year is the Interactive Innovation Awards, more specifically the AR/VR category. Innovators from across the digital industry enter their exciting new work in the competition, which is open to all projects, products, and developments launched or made in calendar year of 2016. The finalists will exhibit their work for a panel of Interactive Innovation Awards judges who will vote to determine the winner. Meanwhile, SXSW registrants get the chance to test out the creations and vote to determine the winner of the People’s Choice Award.
This year the five VR/AR finalists awarded for breakthroughs in augmented reality & virtual reality technology, including the application of new hardware or software, are as follows:
Meta 2 Development Kit by Meta, San Mateo, CA
Notes On Blindness VR by Ex Nihilo | Archer’s Mark | Arte France, Paris, FRA and London, UK
The Mill Blackbird by The Mill, London, UK
The Music Room by Chroma Coda, Melbourne, VIC, AUS
Tilt Brush by Google, San Francisco, CA
For someone looking to express themselves, in ways not yet accessible to the average artist, a great place to start is with the VR/AR finalists mentioned above. Three out of the five projects allow users to enter a world where their surroundings become their canvas and their hands become their paintbrush.
The Meta 2 Development Kit offers creators and developers a new way to interact with projects. Holding the spot among the top AR devices, Meta 2 allows users to interact with designs and holograms. It’s sensor array makes positional tracking possible to see, grab and move holograms just like physical objects. You can also track objects, such as a pen or paint brush. Meta 2 provides an operating environment where one can arrange holographic apps and objects. Users have the ability to create a workspace that saves to the program and can be opened anytime. Holograms can even be simultaneously interacted with by friends or colleagues.
The Music Room, created by Chroma Coda, is a collection of instruments that can be played in virtual reality. The program is a collection of instruments that the user can access in virtual reality. Unlike keyboard MIDI controllers, The Music Room allows the user to strum, slide, bend and drum naturally and expressively. The program even lets you play at Cherry Bar, a rock and roll bar and Bakehouse Studio, a favorite rehearsal room of Elvis Costello, Tool and Nick Cave. In addition, The Music Room comes with a collection of samples, effects and synths. Users can control pitch, volume (aftertouch), timbre, note on and off velocity and 3 more dimensions continuously per note.
Probably one of the better known VR programs, Google’s Tilt Brush allows the user to step into a world where everything and nothing is a canvas. Paint life-size three-dimensional brush strokes, stars, light, and even fire. The program allows the user to walk through their masterpiece, experiencing art and creation like never before. And when the master piece is finished, the program allows the user to scale down their room sized painting into a sharable GIF. Tilt Brush is already available on Facebook’s Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive.
The Finalist Showcase will be held on Sunday, March 12th followed by the Interactive Innovation Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, March 14. And if you have a little extra time, below you can find a list of VR/AR conferences to check out at SXSW.
Virtual Psychedelics: How VR Affects Your Brain -Mar 14, 2017 11:00am — 12:00pm
The Creator’s Handbook for VR & 360 Storytelling — Mar 14, 2017
2:00pm — 3:00pm
Hollywood Goes VR -Mar 14, 2017 3:30pm — 4:30pm
Hololens, Magic Leap, and Making the Mundane Magical — Mar 14, 2017
3:30pm — 4:30pm
How to Fund Original VR Content — Mar 15, 2017 5:00pm — 6:00pm
DayDream for Everyone: VR and Google Play Games — Mar 16, 2017 11:00am — 12:00pm
Augmenting Reality: When AR Meets Documentary — Mar 16, 2017
11:00am — 12:00pm
Hear the Music and Then Follow It -Mar 16, 2017 2:00pm — 3:00pm
Interactive Cross-Platform Social VR — Mar 16, 2017 3:30pm — 4:30pm
Love in a Virtual/Augmented Age — Mar 16, 2017 2:00pm — 3:00pm
Virtual/Augmented Reality in a Real World -Mar 16, 2017 12:30pm — 1:30pm