Vancouver Virtual Reality Expo

Added On May 17, 2016

The crowds and lengthy line-ups say it all.  Virtual reality is a technology that is surging forward quickly, but probably not fast enough to keep up with demand from consumers.  
CNC correspondent visited the Vancouver Consumer Virtual Reality Expo held over the weekend. As the first edition of the event, it attracted the best and brightest VR developers, as well as massive crowds trying to get a taste of the latest technology.
Most of the show was clearly dominated by video games, including this one, by a game-maker from the US.  
SOUNDBITE: IVAN BLAUSTEIN, Director, product integration, VRstudios
"You load into a wild west town where you’re a futuristic robot and it’s kind of a training exercise to see who’s going to be the new sheriff of the town and these animatronic bandits actually pop up and shoot back at you so you actually have to be physically dodging, moving out of the way and shooting them before they shoot you.”
Blaustein [BLOW-STYNE] says virtual reality gaming has improved incredibly in the last five years and has now become almost a perfect experience.
VR headset systems by Occulus Rift, Samsung and others has made the technology go mainstream, with games becoming more like sports than ever before.
SOUNDBITE: IVAN BLAUSTEIN, director, product integration, VRstudios
“You’re aiming, you’re shooting, your movements, are captured perfectly by our system, which makes it really more a sport than anything else. So being able to move around and people seeing that, it’s fun for spectating, it’s an overall exciting experience.”
After trying out the wild west shooting game, one gamer said the VR technology has improved a lot since he first started playing it in Vancouver arcades about 15 years ago. 
“I remember the oldest thing I did at Playdium here at Metrotown, they had the virtual fighting, like, punching game. It was terrible back then, because for me, it’s like I’m punching, but nothing ever registered. This was like a lot more realistic and feels like it’s very responsive, it’s gotten way better.” 
"So, while much of the expo focuses on VR gaming, which gets your heart rate racing, there’s more to virtual reality than just gaming. It’s also being used to here to calm your heart rate down."
There’s no shooting or dodging here at the Guided Meditation VR booth. This Chicago company has created a system of virtual reality relaxation. 
All users need is the headset and the smartphone app to take a short trip into a meditative state, whenever they want, wherever they are. They’re treated to soothing sounds in a peaceful virtual location.
"People have the opportunity to go to a tropical beach or a Japanese garden and take a breather and escape from the every day."
Farkas says virtual reality adds an interesting flavor to meditation, giving users something to look forward to during stressful periods in their life. The technology also coaches newbie meditators into a relaxing frame of mind. 
“I got transformed into a scene in the sea sitting with rocks and just looking around and with some voiceover talking about peacefulness and that kind of stuff, and usually I was just trying to look around and do all that, but I settled down and it’s pretty neat, until someone knocked on me and said time was up, right.”
With Vancouver emerging as a technology and digital hub, the organizers expect to turn the Virtual Reality Expo into an annual event. 
And the massive crowds suggest that’s probably the right move.