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Wednesday, December 1, 2021
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The 5th Annual VR Awards Hosted by AIXR

For the second year in a row, the VR Awards took place in VR, this time in AltspaceVR.

 

The Fifth Annual VR Awards hosted by the Academy of International Extended Reality (AIXR) took place last Thursday night. Held remotely, the ceremony took place in AltspaceVR this year, after having taken place in VRChat last year.

The VR Awards in AltspaceVR

The VR Awards were opened by Kyle Render of the XR comedy show Failed to Render.

5th VR Awards AIXR

“Being involved in this community is unlike anything I’ve ever done before. We are paving the road for the future,” said Render.

Render also introduced Mike Butcher of TechCrunch, who MCed the event.

“We often find, in an industry that by its very nature is impatient for the future, it is only by looking back that we can see how far we’ve really come,” said Butcher.

The VR Awards themselves were introduced by AIXR chief executive Daniel Colaianni.

“We really do want to thank the literally hundreds of people joining us online in VR,” said Colaianni. “Normally, I’d be here in person but actually this is far more exciting.”

VR Healthcare of the Year

The first VR Award, VR Healthcare of the Year went to Osso VR for “Cinematic VR Surgical Training Platform.” The highly contested category included Khora, Make Real Ltd., FundamentalVR, and others. Accepting the award was Osso VR VP of Marketing, Lisa Fong.

“This award truly celebrates all of the work of our team at Osso VR,” said Fong.

VR Education and Training of the Year

VR Education and Training was another highly contested category. Accepted by the company’s CTO Ed Wisniewski, the award went to NORCAT for Vale VR, an equipment pre-operation checklist program.

Vale VR - NORCAT

Also nominated were Make Real Ltd., Orka, VR Inn, and others.

VR Enterprise Solution of the Year

Naturally a close contest this year, finalists for the VR Enterprise Solution of the Year category included Arthur, Orka, Make Real Ltd., Spinview, and others. In the end, the VR Award went to Masters of Pie for Hyperbat, a program using 5G to accelerate the production of batteries in UK plants.

VR Social Impact of the Year

As companies went above and beyond to connect people this year, the VR Social Impact of the Year category was filled with compelling narratives and experiences from Geometry Ogilvy Japan, Rendever, and others.

The VR Award went home with Accenture for AVEnueS – Race Equity in Child Welfare, a program for training welfare workers in sensitive communities.

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Rising VR Company of the Year

This last year has been an exceptional year for VR and, as they say, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” The boat rising most noticeably, according to the AIXR judges, was triple A code Gmbgh.

Accepting the award was CMO Felix Schaefer. Schaefer accepted the VR Award for the work that the company has done, but expressed dedication for their work yet to come.

“We hope we can help a lot of users with our future VR content,” said Schaefer.

Innovative VR Company of the Year

At this stage of fame, it’s safe to say that all VR companies are innovative. Nominations for the most innovative included Cleanbox Technology, Sensorium, Innerspace VR, Resolution Games, and others.

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Accepting the VR Award was Virtualware, a company spanning education, entertainment, and healthcare.

Out-of-Home VR Entertainment

As most people were spending more time in their homes than ever, this was a particularly challenging year for Out-of-Home experiences. As a result, the nominees were particularly impressive including DIVR Labs, meetspaceVR, Ubisoft Düsseldorf, and others.

The VR Award went to Figment Productions Ltd. for Current, Rising, a Tempest-inspired immersive opera.

Figment Productions Ltd. Current, Rising - VR Awards

“Thank you to everybody on the team who made such a great experience for everyone who got to come see it,” Figment CEO Simon Reveley said, accepting the award.

VR Marketing of the Year

Marketers turned to XR to reach audiences in more remote and more engaging ways. Companies behind the nominated campaigns included Accenture, HIKKY Co., Ltd., IMMERSIVECAST, and others.

The award went to Geometry Ogilvy Japan for the Shibuya Virtual Halloween experience, which was also a nominee in the Social Impact category.

VR Film of the Year

VR display technology, as well as rendering software and connectivity hardware, have all advanced by leaps and bounds – even in the last year. Perhaps no experience shows this better than VR films. Nominees were insightful, educational, and – of course – immersive.

In the end, the award went to 3DAR for Paper Birds, a story about a boy receiving other-worldly messages.

VR Experience of the Year

The VR experience category included everything from films to art installations to festivals with nominees including Big Rock Creative, the National Film Board of Canada, Lost Eagle Studios, and others.

The big award went home with Atlas V and No Ghost for the interactive crime mystery Madrid Noir.

VR Social Influencer of the Year

As the VR market has grown, so has the market for VR commentary, news, playthroughs, and other content. This was reflected in a packed category of nominees for VR Social Influencer of the Year that included the Between Realities podcast, Cas and Chary VR, Nathie, and others.

For the second year in a row, the award went to ThrillSeeker.

“What I would like to do if I could possibly do it is thank everybody who has ever clicked on one of my videos,” ThrillSeeker said when accepting the VR Award. “I’m just a cog in the wheel… Whether you have one viewer or one million viewers, I promise we’re all just making stuff out of passion.”

VR Hardware of the Year

VR hardware has not only gotten better, it’s gotten more affordable and more popular in the last year resulting in another packed category including hardware by Oculus, HTC VIVE, Pico, Varjo, and VRgineers.

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However, HP took home one of the biggest awards of the night for the HP Reverb G2 Omnicept edition.

“Thank you to the VR Awards, AIXR, all the judges, everyone in the audience, and Altspace, of course,” HP’s Joanna Popper said accepting the award. Popper also debuted the headset in Altspace last year at AWE. “Most important of all is all of the developers and the companies working with us and building all of these great apps on top of our great hardware.”

VR Game of the Year

The VR Game of the Year category, one of the most highly anticipated awards, included nominees from small studios as well as giants like Archiact, Electronic Arts, and ILMxLAB.

The award went to Resolution Games for their turn-based dungeon crawler Demeo. The award was accepted by Resolution Games co-founder and Chief Communications Officer Paul Brady.

“VR game releases have only gotten better and this year is no exception,” Brady said accepting the award. “We set out to create the kind of game that we really wanted to see in VR.”

Brady also said that Demeo will have an update in the next month. This closely follows the AWE announcement that Resolution Games will launch a studio for the development of AR games.

Accenture VR Lifetime Achievement Award

Finally, the Accenture VR Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Tom Furness, VR pioneer, lecturer, and founder of the Virtual World Society. Furness appeared on the AltspaceVR stage not as an avatar, but as a hologram.

Tom Furness Holoported live in VR - AltspaceVR VR Awards

“It’s an honor to join those who have already achieved this award in the past and all those award winners today and in the last four years,” said Furness. “I’m still a kid. I’m still excited about what lies ahead, and especially to be able to work with people like you.”

See You Next Year

It’s now another year before the next VR Awards. In the meantime, you can watch the ceremony as well as finalist interviews and more on the VR Awards YouTube channel. You can also see lists of finalists and winners from previous years on the AIXR website for the awards.

Jon Jaehnig
the authorJon Jaehnig
Jon Jaehnig is a freelance journalist with special interest in emerging technologies. Jon has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communication from Michigan Technological University and lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. If you have a story suggestion for Jon, you may contact him here.