ARTICLE BY ALEXIS MACKLIN
Machine learning, AI and virtual reality collided at Experiential Technology Conference (XTech), produced by Jazz Venture Partners. The conference explored how to create a more immersive and interactive world. As these themes were discussed by industry leaders, opportunities were presented to improve VR experiences for users.
"There's not just one piece of puzzle to be figured out," Microsoft Group Manager of Hololens Brandon Bray said. "It's the whole puzzle. Every piece needs to be worked on."
Different layers of VR can be improved from software to hardware, gaming to non-gaming content.
Different panels and sessions discussed an underlying goal: deeper immersion. To create a better experience, hardware, software and storytelling all needs to be improved to fully immerse the user.
Controls are another opportunity to improve the sense of immersion Temple Gates Games Co-Founder Theresa Duringer discussed the need of better controllers to bring a better sense of immersion. Currently, she said, VR users still have to press buttons which is an abstract control, not directly mirroring controls in a VR experience.
"VR has shown itself as a world you can step into, but nothing really lets you be in the world in a one-to-one way," Duringer said.
Sense of connection and presence is game changer for VR film director Jon Favreau. Favreau said he felt most connected to an experience when there was eye connection with characters. He used this storytelling technique in his VR directorial debut, Gnomes & Goblins.
"Human experience is the connecting point to this technology," Favreau said.
AI and voice integration could bring more immersion as content and hardware learn from the user.
"AI and voice integration mean more immersive and complex experiences," HTC SVP of VR Rikard Steibe said. "Telling stories will be more complex."
Deeper immersion and fluid interactivity are not easily created and the industry will need to experiment to accomplish this goal. Progress made should be reflected in the creation of industry standards.
"We need VR standards," Duringer said. "We need to be able to rely on gesture APIs so every developer doesn't need to reinvent the wheel."
Industry groups like Khronos Group are coming together to create these standards. Leaders of the industry have come together to develop industry standards to make creation of VR experiences easier. A better VR experience is coming, but it will be a long road.
"This is just the beginning from the journey," NVIDIA General Manager VR Zvi Greenstein said. "There is a lot more to do. There is a lot more to improve."