The Academy of International Extended Reality has held the VR Awards for the last four years and the fifth annual event is scheduled to take place in VR on November 18. Yesterday, June 21, the organization announced the finalists.
Let’s take a look.
VR Healthcare of the Year
The VR Healthcare of the Year award is awarded to “projects that are changing the landscape of healthcare industries for good.” Both business-to-business and business-to-consumer solutions are applicable. The finalists are:
- Broad AR for “Smell Revived.” The “smell training” program has more uses than you might expect but is currently being used by individuals who temporarily lost their sense of smell due to COVID.
- Health Scholars for VR Pediatric Emergency Care training. This is only one of a suite of tools for emergency care personnel and clinicians offered through the organization.
- Khora for “The Challenge Project.” The challenge project uses visual stimulation to help patients struggling with auditory hallucinations. Khora was nominated for the VR Marketing award last year, but lost out to HIKKY’s Virtual Market 4.
- Make Real Ltd. for “Aseptic Technique VR” training with NHS Blood Transplant. Make Real Ltd. is also a finalist for the VR Education and Training of the Year award for their “Coaching VR” solution made in partnership with Severn Trent, and the VR Enterprise Solution of the Year award for the “Skill Shield” solution made with Keltbray.
- NUMENA GmbH for “SSI VR,” an immersive training application to help surgeons avoid infections that can occur at the site of operations.
- Osso VR for their “Cinematic VR Surgical Training Platform.”
- SimX, Inc. for the “Elsevier Simulation Learning System for RN with Virtual Reality (SLS with VR).” The solution is being called “the first-ever comprehensive VR nursing school curriculum.”
- FundamentalVR for “See again!” with Novartis. See again! is an ocular gene therapy VR simulation enabled through FundamentalVR’s groundbreaking VR medical simulation platform. FundamentalVR took this award last year for their @HomeVR modality. It’s not a VR award, but FundamentalVR is also on our list of remote work platforms.
- Untold Games for “Daily – act software,” a “gaming” application for evaluating and rehabilitating neuropsychological patients.
VR Education and Training of the Year
The VR Education and Training of the Year award is awarded to companies or individuals “who have demonstrated practical and innovative uses of VR in education and training” including through videos, gaming, and other approaches.
- Breakpoint One GmbH for “VR Plant Journey,” a fun, educational experience about botany.
- Haggai Goldfarb Consulting for “Project Origami: The Magic of Flight,” a panoramic video experience coming to the Oculus browser.
- Make Real Ltd. for “Coaching VR” with Severn Trent. The experience brings embodiment to soft skills training to the hard skills world that Severn operates in. Make Real was nominated last year for the VR Education and Training and VR Healthcare awards, but went home empty-handed.
- NORCAT for “Vale VR,” which tackles work safety and productivity from before the word “go” by training users to check their tools and surroundings before beginning operation.
- Orka for its “DHL Reach Truck Simulator,” one of many simulators for real-world training. Orka’s “Virtual Shipyard” made with Strathclyde University is also nominated for a VR Enterprise Solution award. Last year they were nominated for the Innovative VR Company award but lost out to Qualcomm – who doesn’t make an appearance this year.
- Psychic VR Lab Co. Ltd. for “NEWVIEW SCHOOL,” a curriculum for “XR as a comprehensive art form.”
- StudioCOIN for “Forum VR-Artists of OZ,” one of a number of VR games that brings literature to life.
- Techno Brave Asia Ltd. and Eminent Air (Thailand) Co. Ltd. for their “Virtual Air Condition Installation” training experience.
- VR Inn for “Virtual Reality training for container glass manufacturers.” The organization also maintains a virtual marketplace and produces games. VR Inn was nominated for the Rising VR Company award last year, but lost out to Klip VR – who don’t make an appearance this year.
VR Enterprise Solution of the Year
The VR Enterprise Solution of the Year award is given to projects that “Satisfy the needs of an organization rather than individual users.” That includes businesses, schools, clubs, charities, and governments. The finalists are:
- Arthur, an enterprise-first remote presence platform that recently rolled out some major updates – an important move in a crowded category.
- Entropia sdn. Bhd for “TM One XR City: Immersive Opportunities.” Entropia, recently acquired by Accenture, was also nominated last year for the Social Impact award but lost out to AARP Innovation Labs, who don’t make an appearance this year.
- Light&Shadows for “Stipple,” a point cloud editor plug-in for Unity.
- Make Real Ltd. for “Skill Shield,” a VR skills assessment and review solution made with Keltbray.
- Masters of Pie for “Hyperbat,” the “world’s first” VR design review enabled by 5G.
- Orka for “Virtual Shipyard” with Strathclyde University Department of Naval Architecture, Ocean, and Marine Engineering. Last year, Orka was nominated for the “Innovative VR Company” and the “VR Education and Training” awards, but went home empty-handed.
- Spinview, for its flagship virtual reality management platform.
VR Social Impact Award
The VR Social Impact Award is given to companies and individuals using or producing a VR experience to promote social good.
- Accenture for “AVEnueS – Race Equity in Child Welfare,” a VR solution for training caseworkers. Last year, Accenture was nominated for the VR Education and Training, VR Experience, and VR Enterprise Solution awards, but went home empty-handed.
- Gain Productions Inc. for “MINDFUL VR.” The platform also makes entertainment and brand engagement experiences.
- Geometry Ogilvy Japan for “Shibuya Virtual Halloween.” This experience is also nominated in the VR Marketing of the Year category.
- GRX Immersive Labs for “POV: Points of View,” an immersive Sci-Fi thriller that cautions viewers that “control begins where privacy ends.”
- Rendever for “RendeverLive,” a series of personalized live experiences for senior citizens that was made widely accessible to combat isolation during social distancing.
- Sentireal Ltd for “SitelT,” one of a number of experiences to train experts through immersion and simulation.
- Sunshine Sachs for its VR suicide prevention program.
Rising VR Company of the Year
The Rising VR Company of the Year award is given to “small businesses with proven business models.” Finalists are:
- Emperia, a company dedicated to virtual spaces, art, and fashion. Emperia was nominated in this category last year as well, but lost out to Klip VR.
- EVOKE Studios, a creative technological production studio.
- Lost Horizon, a digital art and music venue.
- triple A code GmbH, a company creating hardware and software to increase accessibility across virtual landscapes.
- Unlocked Reality, a hardware company working on making VR – specifically movement in VR – feel more natural.
Innovative VR Company of the Year
The Innovative VR Company is awarded to “first-to-market” providers, with extra points given to organizations that “focus on their company culture” and sustainability. The finalists are:
- Cleanbox Technology. The headset sanitization solution provider has been a hero of the pandemic and isn’t expected to go away any time soon as we move into the “new normal.” Cleanbox was nominated for Innovative VR Company last year, but lost out to Qualcomm.
- DARK BAY GmbH, a virtual production studio.
- eyeora VR, a virtual events company working with mobile devices as well as Oculus and Pico headsets.
- InnerspaceVR, an immersive entertainment studio.
- Resolution Games, a Swedish immersive games studio that has brought us, among other experiences, the Angry Birds Aisle of Pigs AR and VR experiences. The studio’s “Demeo” is nominated for VR Game of the Year.
- Sensorium, a social and entertainment platform as well as a major metaverse contender. Sensorium’s “AI DJ” experience is a finalist in the “VR Experience of the Year” category.
- Virtualware, a company providing “real people with real solutions” across enterprise, entertainment, and healthcare.
- Yarn Corporation, the social publishing tool encouraging you to “upload yourself.”
Out-of-Home VR Entertainment of the Year
The Out-of-Home category celebrates location-based entertainment experiences resulting in “a high level of user satisfaction.”
- Backlight Studio for “Icecube Protocol,” a “veritable initiation into virtual reality” pits the gamer against a climate disaster of frosty proportions.
- DIVR Labs for “Meet the Dinosaurs,” a sort of VR Jurassic Park.
- Figment Productions Ltd. for “Current, Rising,” an immersive opera inspired by The Tempest. Figment has also worked on more “mainstream” productions with Black Mirror, LegoLand, the National Trust, and others.
- INCARNA STUDIOS for “Incarna Adventures,” a multiplayer VR escape room-style game.
- meetspaceVR, a chain of VR experience centers where users can explore “free roam” VR experiences, VR escape rooms, and a VR arcade.
- Secret Location for “Blasters of the Universe: Infinity Forever” and for “Paranormal Pest Patrol,” two of many immersive experiences ranging from amusing to moving, with everything in between.
- Ubisoft Düsseldorf for “Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time,” a multiplayer VR puzzle game set in a reimagined world from the beloved videogame series.
VR Marketing of the Year
The VR Marketing award recognizes marketing campaigns that integrate virtual reality “within the majority of the project” in original and creative ways. The finalists are:
- Accenture for the “D-Wave Advantage Showcase,” promoting “the first quantum computer built for business.”
- Geometry Ogilvy Japan for “Shibuya Virtual Halloween.”
- HIKKY CO., LTD. for the “Virtual Market 5” digital expo and for its “VR Boatshow: TOYOTA Marine WORLD.” If those two nominations weren’t enough, Virtual Market 4 took this category last year.
- immersivecast for their car configuration app.
- Emirates and Renacens Sistemas SL for “The Emirates VR Experience” that lets users explore their flight in 3D before they leave home.
VR Film of the Year
The VR Film of the Year award recognizes short films, interactive pieces, and design experiences that “substantially feature virtual reality within their media” while emphasizing user comfort and enjoyment with a focus on positioning and movement.
- Alchemy Immersive for “Micro Monsters” with David Attenborough. The immersive documentary brings bugs to life like never before.
- Diversion Cinema for “Strands of Mind,” an “intense journey into the woven nature of existence.”
- idontloveyouanymore for “To Miss the Ending,” an immersive experience about “what it means to be human in a digital world.”
- “La Caixa” Foundation for “Symphony.”
- Transitional Forms and the National Film Board of Canada for “Agence,” an interactive film asking viewers “Would you interfere with intelligent life?” The NFBC is also nominated in the “VR Experience” category for “The Book of Distance.”
VR Experience of the Year
The VR Experience of the Year category celebrates the producers and executors of “truly outstanding, quality experiences.” The finalists are:
- 4DR Studios and the musical artist Coloray for the release of his album “Future Static.”
- Atlas V for “Madrid Noir,” a “thrilling interactive caper.”
- Big Rock Creative for their “wondrous, inventive, whimsical, sustainable and human-centered” virtual venues, including the Burning Man VR world.
- Couzin Films and Les Produits Frais for “The Passengers,” an immersive experience that invites viewers into the minds of travelers sharing a train car.
- National Film Board of Canada for “The Book of Distance,” an “emotional pilgrimage through an emotional geography.”
- Nowheremedia for “Kusunda VR,” a voice-driven VR film built around an endangered language.
- Sensorium for launching “the first performing AI DJ” with audio ecosystem Mubert.
VR Hardware of the Year
The VR Hardware of the Year category is awarded to companies “producing outstanding and impactful” technology.
- Facebook for the Oculus Quest 2. Facebook has dominated VR headset market shares by making the Quest 2 the most affordable stand-alone headset on the market. Incidentally, Oculus also won this category last year for the now discontinued Rift-S.
- HP for the Reverb G2 Omnicept Edition. The Omnicept is one of the best headsets on the market, not only in terms of display, but in terms of data collection capabilities. Ethicists in the field have raised eyebrows, but training, education, and even diagnostics specialists are on board.
- HTC for the VIVE Focus 3. The VIVE Focus 3 is one of the only competitors that Oculus still has for consumer VR users. And, with VIVE’s recent pivot toward enterprise, the Focus 3 is everything to a lot of people. Also of note: HTC CEO and Chairwoman Cher Wang was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at last year’s ceremony.
- Pico Interactive Europe SL for the Pico Neo 3 Pro. If VIVE is the most significant consumer competition for Oculus, Pico is the most significant enterprise competition for Oculus. The Neo 3 is a fellow stand-alone headset that offers a lot of the same tools and tricks as other enterprise players.
- Varjo for the XR-3. Varjo’s XR line is historic if only because it is the only headset to offer a gradient switch from full AR to full VR – even if the hefty price tag puts it beyond the reach of even many enterprise applications. The XR-3 also factors into Varjo’s plans for a metaverse with the upcoming Varjo Reality Cloud project.
- VRgineers for the XTAL Mixed Reality Module. The XTAL 8K was nominated in the category last year and their flight simulator for the US Airforce was nominated for VR Enterprise Solution, but the company went home empty-handed.
VR Game of the Year
The Game of the Year award puts a special focus on creativity and ingenuity along with “innovative use of movement.” The finalists are:
- Archiact for “DOOM 3: VR Edition.” As one of the original first-person shooters, DOOM was begging for a VR update.
- Electronic Arts Inc. for “Star Wars: Squadrons,” the multiplayer VR experience that puts gamers into the cockpits of their favorite Star Wars ships.
- MWM Interactive for “MASKMAKER.” Developed by Innerspace, and published by MWM Interactive, this VR puzzle game involves using masks to travel between different immersive experiences.
- ILMxLAB for “Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge,” bringing together familiar friends and new enemies from across the Star Wars universe. ILMxLAB took home the Out-of-Home category last year with “Avengers: Damage Control”.
- Joy Way for “STRIDE,” a “high-octane parkour adventure.”
- MyDearest Inc. for “ALTDEUS: Beyond Chronos,” a Sci-Fi adventure known for its complex storyline.
- PotamWorks for the VR rhythm game “Smash Drums.”
- Resolution Games for “Demeo,” a turn-based, dungeon-crawling RPG adventure.
- VR Factory Games Sp. z o.o. for “Horror Bar VR,” a “zombie bar simulator.”
- Wanadev for “Ragnaröck,” a rhythm game featuring Celtic music and Vikings.
- Wevr for “Gnomes & Goblins,” a fantasy adventure created and co-written by John Favreau. Wevr was nominated last year in the Out-of-Home category for “theBlu: Deep Rescue,” but lost out to ILMxLAB and The VOID.
- XR Games for “Zombieland VR: Headshot Fever,” an arcade-style shooter with your favorite heroes from the Zombieland film series.
All Bets Are Off
Some of this year’s experiences are sweeping emotional epics, others let you serve drinks to zombies. Some of this year’s hardware is increasingly household names, while others are scarcely heard of.
Honestly, we don’t know who is going to win what, and we don’t know what it will mean. Some of last year’s award winners didn’t come back, and some of the experiences that didn’t win last year have come back with more amazing offerings. XR is a quickly moving world and it’s anyone’s guess what’s next.