April NYVR Recap: Perlin noises and Lighsabers

Last Thursday NYVR hosted its 15th event.  Over 200 people RSVP’d to gather at Microsoft’s NYC headquarters to hear the latest VR news and share ideas with some of VR’s luminaries.  The night opened with Alex Coulombe’s story of how he used VR to solve a nagging problem in theater design.  Alex is an architect (among other things) with a firm that specializes in designing theaters.  One of the issues they face in their design process is how to assess seating layouts to ensure all comers get a good view of the action.  Alex integrated Unity into his firm’s workflow to quickly create VR simulations of proposed layouts viewable on the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard.  Alex’s presentation was inspiring both in that it told the story of how the unique characteristics of VR can be used to solve real world problems as well as the fact that before this project Alex was not a developer or coder. With the tools we have available VR development is accessible to anyone with the will to build.

Our keynote of the evening was Ken Perlin, NYU professor and pioneer in computer graphics and virtual reality.  Of particular note was his description of the VR holodeck he and his colleagues (and the graduate students!) are building at NYU.  The NYU holodeck has sub mm scale tracking of a 25′ x 25′ space which is being put to use to create everything from art installations (Octopus Rift) to room filling simulations of atomic orbitals (my personal favorite).  Ken’s talk also highlighted the importance of research for its own sake.  Research can be done for the pure pleasure of finding things out without the need for a business plan or financial projections.

We were lucky to have both Ken and Alex this month and I think we were all at least a little bit inspired.

Also of note were a demo of Sixense’s jedi training, which was awesome, and a chance to touch base with Linden Labs and High Fidelity founder Phillip Rosedale.  Thanks to everyone who came by and especially to the NY VR developers who demo’d their work.  See you next month!

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