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VR/AR Global Summit: Major Trends and Announcements

The VR/AR Association held its three-day global summit last week. Here are the highlights.

 

The VR/AR Association’s VR/AR Global Summit took place last week from June 1 to June 3. Like many large-scale organizations, this was the first time that the VR/AR Association held their annual major conference online.

According to the VR/AR Association, over 10,000 attendees registered for the event with more watching streaming and recorded sessions on Facebook and YouTube. Unfortunately, technical difficulties and a “decentralized” streaming format made the conference difficult to attend, let alone cover.

In case you missed anything, here are some of the highlights that we at ARPost thought were most significant. Where possible, links have been included to recordings of the talks.

Major Trends

With so many talks happening over so many days, the best way to talk about an event like the VR/AR Global Summit might be from the top down. A few major talking points were picked up by a number of the presenters.

COVID and XR

The VR/AR Association held its VR/AR Global Summit online in the first place because of the COVID-19 pandemic leading to distancing guidelines around the world. As a result, the conference itself was used as an example of a whole cluster of use cases for XR.

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“More of our lives are going to be lived online and I think that’s pretty obvious,” futurist Anne Ahola Ward said in a panel discussion with other futurists hosted by VIVE’s Amy Peck. “This is definitely VR’s potential killer moment. I think we’re going to see VR take over in a few different ways.”

The sentiment was echoed throughout the VR/AR Global Summit, with emphasis often placed on how VR has long provided these solutions but fewer people were aware of them.

“People were moving towards being interested in VR meetings even before the pandemic,” MeetinVR co-founder and CEO Cristian Emanuel Anton said in a panel discussion on VR Collaboration Tools. “People thought that no one would want to wear headsets around the office but now people are really starting to see the value around it.”

Some, including Geogram founder and CEO Srinivas Krishna, in his talk on “The Future of Events” said that the post-COVID “new normal” would continue to include a heightened adoption of XR solutions. However, others weren’t so sure.

“I am still a bit concerned on some of the pathways that I’m seeing for the future,” author of “Augmenting Alice,”Galit Ariel, said on Peck’s futurist panel, linked above. “I think we have to be very cautious now in content creation and value creation and not just jump into that all-virtual world, because there is a craving for physical interactions and kind of going back into kind of, like, less technological solutions or solutions that don’t seem technological.”

Smaller Devices, the AR Cloud, and Mass Adoption

Smaller headworn devices were brought up not just in terms of office etiquette, but in terms of comfortable long-term use and price points as well.

“In the next few years, there will be so many more stand-alone devices like Oculus Quest and the next generations of these headsets and the industry will grow exponentially in the next twelve months,” Glue’s Head of Global Sales, Jani Leskinen, said in a talk on collaboration tools in VR.

For Nokia’s Head of Trend Scouting, Leslie Shannon, smaller headsets is a start, but more infrastructure is required before it can go mainstream. This is particularly true for AR devices. While VR devices can largely work in isolation, AR devices must work with the real world – and with each other.

VR/AR Global Summit

“What you really need for the spatial internet is not only some kind of a device to help you interpret the world around you, but you need to have a digital map,” Shannon said in her talk on Unleashing the Spatial Internet. However, in order for spatial internet to become “a thing”, there are some things that first need to happen. One of those, according to Shannon, is interoperability. “If we have five separate spatial internets – five companies and each of them has a walled garden – that’s not going to fly.” 

5G and “edge computing” were also regularly discussed as a way of allowing computing power to take place in the cloud and in data centers as opposed to directly on devices. While this comes with security concerns for some applications, it would also allow more immersive experiences on smaller devices.

VR/AR Global Summit Announcements

As with any conference, a number of industry professionals and organizations chose the VR/AR Global Summit to make their big announcements.

Some of these were repeat performances from AWE last week. These include Charlie Fink on his new book and HP and Microsoft presenting the new Reverb G2 VR headset. There were a healthy amount of new announcements as well, however.

On day one, Lenovo Commercial AR/VR Lead Nathan Pettyjohn announced the Lenovo Mirage VR S3 in his keynote. The all-in-one headset is made through a partnership with Pico Interactive and focuses on usability.

In his panel discussion, Leskinen talked with MeetinVR CEO and co-founder, Cristian Emanual Anton, about the “Window to Reality” feature created through a partnership with headset manufacturer Varjo. The feature allows users to set aside a window that lets them see their actual surroundings while in VR.

Futurist Cathy Hackl discussed her scholarship for women in spatial computing. She also teased a new book, “The Augmented Workforce,” which should be coming out this fall.

Matt Fedorovich of Insight announced that the company is now carrying the HoloLens 2, and Pico’s Leland Hedges announced that the company will be releasing an updated version of its most popular headset, the G2.

Catching Up With the VR/AR Association

The VRARA’s VR/AR Global Summit is the organization’s biggest annual event. However, the organization holds smaller and more localized events around the world throughout the year. They also hold remote meetings for specific industry verticals bi-weekly throughout the year.

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Videos from some sessions of this year’s VR/AR Global Summit as well as from past events are available on the organization’s YouTube channel. However, attending most live events requires a paid membership.

 

Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance writer specializing in Technology and Health. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife and cat. If you have a story suggestion for Jon, you may contact him here.