“We are redefining and creating what it means to be human in this new physical/virtual integrated reality – we are not just designing user interfaces, we are designing users.” In his opening keynote, Mark Bolas discussed the development of satisfying user interfaces and the rules of engagement as things become increasingly virtual and surreal. He illustrated one example by distributing sheets of bubble wrap to all attendees.
Voice of America featured ICT’s Rapid Avatar Generation, the three minute process for turning people into avatars.
A multi-part feature in the Verge featured ICT research and researchers and their role in virtual reality past, present and future. A history of VR section higlighted the work of Skip Rizzo and Mark Bolas.
Games writer Eric Johnson wrote a story about the VRLA Virtual Reality Meetup at ICT’s Mixed Reality Lab, a place he calls a de facto incubator for VR projects. Both Oculus VR’s Palmer Luckey and immersive gaming startup Survios came through Bolas’s tutelage, he wrote. The story notes the sense of optimism attendees shared about the future of virtual reality.
“The movie business came to Hollywood because they needed the light,” said Mark Bolas, in the story. “We don’t need light anymore, but we need people. And LA is one of the hotbeds.”
Johnson described his experience in Project Blueshark, ICT’s Office of Naval Research-funded project that explores the future of collaboration and work.
“VR had successfully tricked me into believing something that wasn’t real”, he said.
He also wrote about Evan Suma’s redirected walking work, noting that it uses a perceptual trick called change blindness to make a small physical space infinitely large inside a virtual world.
Bloomberg Businessweek, in a story about Google’s new smartphone virtual reality kit, reported that the USC Institute for Creative Technologies has been developing similar kits since 2011. “I don’t see a dividing line between virtual reality and real reality. I think in a few years they’re going to be indistinguishable,” said Mark Bolas of ICT’s Mixed Reality Lab. Time and The Verge also covered the Mixed Reality Lab’s precursor kits.