For the third year, the SXSW conference in Austin, Texas has a dedicated track for VR/AR events. There are over 60 Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality related events this year occurring on almost every day of the conference. The majority of the speaker sessions are March 13-15 at JW Marriott. Badges are required for panels and expos though some are free with RSVP — such as Capital Factory’s Future of Technology Lounge 2018 and Intro to the Austin VR Scene. It is worth checking out these events to experience Austin’s strong VR/AR and start-up communities.
The SXSW VR/AR schedule includes presentations, panels, master classes, mentoring sessions and workshops. Note that some mentors and workshops require early RSVP, so do that soon via the SXSW app or website. Be sure to catch the SXSW Virtual Cinema which showcases VR cinema projects that demonstrate how the future of entertainment is changing with immersive content. Here you’ll see experiences from all over the globe including many world premieres such as the Atrium by Meow Wolf.
Below are over a dozen event highlights grouped by topic and industry. There is obviously a lot of great content that isn’t covered — I’d love to hear about your favorites in the comments! Also, if you are attending SXSW 2018 and would like to connect, contact me at @amylameyer or via LinkedIn.
For Those New to Virtual and Augmented Realities
One of the helpful features of this conference is the notation of content level by beginner, intermediate, advanced, so consider that (as well as badge type) as you plan your schedule.
An AR Enabled Guide to the Metaverse Charlie Fink keeps his finger on the pulse of VR/AR for Forbes. His recently released book is a guide to emerging VR & AR that is accessible to enthusiasts of all levels.
How Does VR Become a Truly Mainstream Technology? An A-list of panelists that have been influential in the recent upswing of VR will share their views on what’s needed to get tens, or hundreds, of millions into VR.
The SXSW Start Up Accelerator Pitch Event will feature five companies pitching their product and/or services to industry technology experts, high profiled media personnel, and Venture Capitalists / Angel Investors. Check out descriptions of all the finalists.
Storytelling and News
Setting the Visual Language of VR Storytelling (requires Platinum or Film badge and RSVP). This workshop will provide a live demonstration of the latest advances being made in VR immersion and storytelling by Timoni West and Natalie Grant from Unity Technologies.
How Volumetric Humans Impact Storytelling in VR/AR. Pioneers in VR storytelling (including Nonny de la Peña who is also a convergence track keynote speaker) will discuss incorporating volumetric capture of human performances to push the boundaries of the medium’s narrative capability and sense of presence for the viewer.
Bringing VR/AR to People Through Immersive News. Journalists from the Washington Post, USA Today and StoryUP will cover how media companies are creating immersive content so that audiences can now experience the stories they care about firsthand.
Health and Sports
VR’s Implications in the Sport Industry Derek Belch, CEO at STRIVR, will provide examples of real-life applications of the growing uses of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in sports, from how the technology can be used to train athletes and enhance fan experience, and the role it is playing in the sporting goods industry.
Immersive Realities at the Frontier of Healthcare Experts from Cedars-Sinai, Boston Childrens, MGH, AppliedVR, Brain Power will answer questions such as: How do we use VR/AR to understand what works for each patient? Will data help us to predict what will work and for whom?
Enterprise and Workplace
AR Update 2018: Evolution or Revolution? Three leaders in the field will take a fresh look at AR after Apple has shipped answering questions such as: who will be the ultimate key players, what are the most promising opportunities, and what will be the best sources for funding?
VR is Hopeless Without a Path to Green(er) Pasture$ Panelists from Google, Hulu and Live Nation will talk about monetizing the emerging platform of VR through an ecosystem across production, creation + distribution that creates opportunities for sponsors and hardware platforms.
Advertising, Brand and Marketing
Extended Realities: The End of Distance This session will discuss how Extended Reality (XR) — AR, VR, MR — can bridge the gap through relevant, immersive experiences — and when combined with A.I, the opportunity is endless. Join this session to explore how intelligent XR experiences will fundamentally change how brands connect with people.
Beyond Brand Impressions: Assessing VR’s True ROI Speakers will provide successful case studies from companies like Audi, Gatorade, IKEA as well as data-driven evidence to explain why & how brands should be involved in VR.
A Few Others Worth Adding to Your Schedule
The World is a Stage: Concerts in VR. This is a personal favorite that is unfortunately scheduled on the last day of the conference. Catch it if you can and if not, do yourself a favor and experience a concert in VR. I agree with the speakers from Google and Austin City Limits — when it comes to live music, VR is a game changer. For more on that, check out the Wired article Live Concerts Take the Virtual Out of Virtual Reality or some of my other writing on Medium.
Augmented Minds — VR that Pushes Perceptual Limits The whole description is intriguing: Can people develop super-human senses? Research has shown that powerful perceptual illusions can be created in virtual reality, extending the sense of touch and allowing someone to see physiological changes that are “hidden” to the unaided eye. Speakers from Microsoft will explain the possibilities for augmenting perception through VR, discuss the challenges of advancing human senses and show demonstrations.
Immersive Yourself at SXSW
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