Immersive virtual reality, augmented reality and Vicon Baseball – what you missed at SIGGRAPH 2016

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Last week, more than 14,000 people flocked to Anaheim, California, not to visit Mickey Mouse, but to attend SIGGRAPH 2016. The conference and exhibition features the latest in computer graphics as well as mobile graphics, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) systems.

If you’ve never been to SIGGRAPH, it’s a place where you can learn all about computer graphics (CG). With numerous courses, talks, sessions and panels, it’s a chance for people to get inspired by the energy and imagination that surrounds the computer graphics and interactive technology world. A community of international researchers, educators, animators, students mingled with industry pioneers, checked out the latest interactive exhibits and took part in immersive demos.

The LA lorries were at the conference once again, hosting media briefings for our client Vicon, the motion capture (mocap) technology specialists. At the show, they were showcasing two new mocap cameras, Vero and Vue, and also gave a sneak peek into some new technology that they’ll be announcing in the future. Another big hit at their booth was Vicon Baseball, a game where attendees had 60 seconds to show off their virtual baseball hitting skills.

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Watch out, the next Babe Ruth is among us!

Hot at SIGGRAPH

New applications for technologies including augmented reality and virtual reality were hot topics at SIGGRAPH. Many delegates were curious to see how the technology will evolve over time as every company wants their hands in the VR and AR cookie jar. It’s no wonder that the VR Village was yet again a popular hall, housing real-time virtual and augmented reality exhibits and demos that were both entertaining and educational.

In the VR Village, EON Reality showcased iCube Mobile, a portable, multi-sided immersive virtual reality environment where participants become surrounded by virtual images and sound. At SIGGRAPH, attendees of all ages had the chance to step in the batter’s box and give the iCube a try.

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A young boy gets his first taste of VR at the EON Reality iCube Mobile exhibit

Below are a few other art installations that stood out to us at SIGGRAPH.

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SIGGRAPH’s art installation Doors

Doors was an interesting art piece that reminded me of the film Beetlejuice. Luckily, there were no sandworms behind this installation. Doors is a portal that takes on the middle ground between virtual and physical space. Sensors surrounding the structure of an actual door tracked the movements of those who approached the wooden frame, changing the screen’s perspective in an anamorphic system that adjusted to your visual angle in real-time.

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Metaphase Sound Machine

According to its website, the Metaphase Sound Machine is a kind of homage to the ideas of the American physicist Nick Herbert who, in the 1970s, created both the Metaphase Typewriter and Quantum Metaphone (a speech synthesizer). Walking by the installation, I wasn’t sure what exactly it was doing, but it was definitely interesting and mesmerizing. You can check out the sound machine in action here.

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LA Lorries (left to right) Kim, Tanya and Jessica

Overall, it was another interesting and busy SIGGRAPH for the lorries. It’s always one of the most interesting shows to attend and it never disappoints. According to Mona Kasra, SIGGRAPH 2016 conference chair, “this year’s conference was yet another remarkably educational and stimulating gathering of thousands of leading researchers, innovators, technologists and creative practitioners…” Kasra said the event was “extraordinary”, and I couldn’t agree more. Till next year, SIGGRAPH…

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