The goal of the Miami VR Expo was to allow startups to showcase what they can do, as well as create a space where venture-capitalist investors can be more involved, engaged, and see the community from a wider perspective. It is the first expo in Miami dedicated to virtual, augmented, and mixed reality, positioning itself to educate, inspire, and innovate individuals of a viable future in the industry.
The Current VR/AR Miami Landscape
One local South Florida company that isn’t having any problem attracting investors is Magic Leap, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Called “the world’s hottest startup” in 2016 by Wired magazine, Magic Leap has brought in more than $2 billion in investments, and is valued at $6 billion — without having sold any of their AR glasses.
With Magic Leap making a name for themselves here in South Florida, the city believes Miami’s VR/AR market can benefit from the area’s creative scene, as well as its ability to draw and keep talent through the city’s beaches and nightlife. Of course, plenty of talent is already here, and there is plenty more to come. Virtual reality is so early in Miami, that people do not know what it is, how they can use it, or how to even price it. Those already familiar know that it also typically requires you to experience it in order to understand it, as the applications are limitless.
A virtual reality arcade based in Wynwood, the art district of Miami, presented their technology via the HTC Vive. The ultimate goal is for mass adoption of virtual reality technology. However, as we know, the current systems are still somewhat expensive, and require a rather large, unobstructed space to use.
loftVR hopes to bridge the gap for those who wish to experience virtual reality without the restrictions. They also offer special event hosting where they bring their equipment to you.
More Equal Studios
Traveling from their studio location of San Francisco, California, More Equal Studios offered Miami expo attendees a chance to experience gaming in virtual reality. With their first release, “Fractured Divinity,” players can battle each other in the virtual world, Ethera, by manipulating elements through martial art moves.
Local to Miami, VR Park allows attendees to experience virtual really through a variety of over 50 attractions within their 13,000 sq. ft. arena. Attractions include from virtual escape rooms and 5D cinemas, to their expo demonstration of virtual reality base jumping. This experience has users stand on a moving platform while holding onto a bar for stability. When the base jumping experience begins, you are literally, jumping into a virtual world soaring through clouds, and passing through mountains as you feel the wind through your hair, as well as every dip and turn.
Alice Space – Noitom and RKG Creative Collaboration to the Moon
The main event, presented by Noitom, showcased motion capture, animation, and virtual reality solutions in collaboration with Miami-based company, RKG Creative. Taking a shuttle to their own motion capture studio just a few minutes from the convention, attendees got to experience the best technology yet.
Performing first hand demos throughout the day of Perception Neuron PRO, the Hi5 Virtual Reality Gloves, and Facerig3D facial animation software, users got to experience a mixed reality lunar landing experience known as “Alice Space”.
For those who may not be familiar with virtual reality, to those who may be experts, this was an amazing immersive experience that received a lot of hype. They were able to provide attendees the chance to don head mounted displays, untethered, as well as gloves and a small backpack housing its own computer. Once headsets were on, users’ heights were calibrated, and the experience starts with you looking at your friends, family, or co-workers in spacesuits in a space shuttle headed to the moon.
The details in the environment were interactive enough to pick up items in the shuttle, such as coffee mugs or picture frames from the space journey, as well as be able to move around the spacecraft itself, exploring different rooms and tunnels as you begin your descent to the moon.
The virtual reality gloves allowed even more of a realistic experience as it replicates your movements from picking up objects, to playing patty-cake with other attendees. Once on the moon, a couple of real-life objects in the studio played a role within the virtual environment as you can physically handle and interact with these items, creating a mixed reality experience.
This technology is also available to purchase for those looking to provide this virtual reality experience as a business. For $199,000 you get all the necessary tracking hardware, including the equipment, and pay a $6,000/month licensing and maintenance fee that includes support and new content twice a year.