The first VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference & Expo was held at the Mattamy Centre in Toronto, bringing together over 800 attendees eager to see the latest advances in Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). VRTO Executive Director/CEO Keram Malicki-Sanchez, immersive video producer, owner of Transportive Technology and founder of FIVARS (the Festival of International Virtual and Augmented Reality Stories) created VRTO in May 2015.

The conference brought together industry leaders, scientists, professors, entrepreneurs from the US and Canada to share ideas and technologies in the areas of VR, AR, mixed reality and wearable technology. Professor Steven Mann of the University of Toronto, known worldwide as the father of wearable technology (among his inventions are the smartwatch videophone, HDR imaging, and Eye Tap Digital Eye Glass), presented the opening keynote “Code of Ethics: Virtuality, Robotics and Human Augmentation” which was followed by a panel on this subject. During the conference, the Code of Ethics on Human Augmentation was ratified. The code was authored by Professor Mann, (who has spent 14 years working on it) along with VRTO Executive Director Keram Malicki-Sanchez, author David Brin (“The Postman”), KOBO co-founder Ken Nickerson, Canadian Film Centre (CFC) Chief Digital Officer Ana Serrano, Hollywood filmmaker Brett Leonard (“Lawnmower Man”), and others.

The three principles of the Code of Ethics of Human Augmentation (nicknamed The Toronto Code) are:
1. the right to know when and how you are being monitored in the real and virtual world.
2. the right to monitor the systems or people monitoring you and use that information in crafting your own digital identity.
3. the user should be able to understand the world they are in immediately – feedback delayed is feedback denied.
According to Professor Mann, these principles were inspired by Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics.

The conference also had intensive training sessions (including 360VR video post-production tips and tricks and professional stitching techniques) and panels, (including topics covering immersive videos, mixed reality & the holographic future).

At the media preview, we had the chance to see a few of the exhibits and try out some of the technologies. We learned a lot about what is happening now and in the future. The idea is to bring virtual reality into the real world, which goes way beyond seeing images through the VR goggles.

Metavrse had us painting on the screen with our goggles on. Eye-Live media had a helmet system that an athlete wears to capture their point of view during a live sporting event. HTML Fusion showed us how one could adjust the colour of a light using the wearable technology. Dashwood Cinema Solutions had its 360VT Toolbox for the post editing of VR, which was most recently used in Paul McCartney 3D 360. In this case, the software allowed the chords to float in space. Liquid Cinema software was able to track what you are looking at and combine 2d and 3D footages. Cream 360 produced story driven virtual reality. We watched two of their short films using the VR goggles. Globacore showcased its interactive technology to create a power cube virtual reality game like Tetris. Vrvana had a totem headset that could do VR and mixed reality because of its onboard sensors. This can be used for industrial 3D modelling, simulation, and product design. Mettle‘s Skybox 360 / VR software involved production studio and 3D plug-ins for after effects in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Professor Mann entertained us with his Splashtones invention: the underwater pipe organ. By covering up the finger holes, the water is blocked and makes these beautiful sounds. He performed his beautiful piece entitled “Liquid Nitrogen,” and he also demonstrated using lights to show waves. It was fascinating to watch.

(photos by Tanya, VRTO Virtual & Augmented Reality World Conference & Expo)

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