by Willem Thomas
VANCOUVER – Virtual reality, that omnipresent futurist idea, is shifting ever closer to becoming a household reality, and has been for some time. Skeptical? Allow the Consumer Virtual Reality Expo a chance to assuage those doubts. The expo, now in its second year, is taking place at the Vancouver Convention Centre from May 5 – 7. As a combination industry and consumer conference, CVR gives attendees the opportunity to demo products from some of the leading VR, AR (augmented reality), and MR (mixed reality) producers from across the world.
Beyond being just a technological escapist’s dream playground of games and VR experiences, the expo includes an industry-only day with speakers (including the head of VR at a little agency called NASA), panel discussions, and probably some drinking — sorry, networking. CVR, the Pacific Northwest’s largest VR industry event of the year, will be a tremendous showcase for BC’s VR talent, while also playing host to myriad guest speakers and exhibitors “from everywhere — California to France to Lebanon,” says Anne-Marie Enns, the executive producer of CVR.
When the average consumer hears the term “virtual reality,” it’s rational for them to think of video games. It goes far beyond that, though, according to Enns. “There’s growing adaptation for use in medical fields, and it will find good use in training and classrooms. People are already using [VR] for brain surgery, real estate, gambling, design, and much more.” VR is already becoming more commonplace in everyday technology, with augmented-reality GPS and entertainment systems likely becoming an industry-standard feature in cars. “We’ll see VR in much more everyday usage, ways in which most people aren’t considering yet,” she says.
Humans, underwhelmed with these outrageously neat things called “life” and “Earth,” have been seeking technological escapes for decades (see 1962’s Sensorama). While many leading industry figures believe we’re entering the golden age of artificial experiences (Elon Musk is convinced life as we know it is just a computer simulation), is 2017 the year immersive VR experiences actually become widely used? Enns thinks so. “VR is quickly becoming a reality for consumers as the price points get better, and the headsets become more accessible,” she says.
Nervous, unconvinced, or just blissfully ignorant of the impending relevance of VR? Consider checking out CVR. “The expo is the perfect opportunity for someone who’s even slightly curious about VR to try it in a safe, controlled environment. They can watch others first,” says Enns.
Watching strangers flail about, combating enemies only visible to them is worth the price of admission alone. We’re all probably living in the Matrix anyway.
CVR runs at the Vancouver Convention Centre from May 5 – 7.Vancouver Convention Centre, virtual reality, VR