Summary of the European VR/AR Congress third edition

The development of virtual and extended reality, possibilities, use of VR and AR in medicine, architecture and business, and the future of these technologies were the discussions that dominated the third edition of the European VR / AR Congress. Over 300 experts and enthusiasts of virtual and extended reality gathered in the Copernicus Science Center for two days of the Congress. They emphasized together: this is our future.

How to use VR / AR to train surgeons or construction workers? Can VR cure strabismus and significantly affect the lives of seniors? How can you rebuild media trust and profit from VR and AR technology? The answers to these questions were sought by participants of the congress.

The first day of the conference was opened with media topics. Grzegorz Piechota, a scientist at Oxford University and Harvard Business School, and Louis Jebb, founder of the British startup Immersiv.ly that creates virtual reality journalistic content, talked about how to win the market with the help of products and services based on VR and AR technologies. According to Piechota, it is not startups or technologies but consumers who are responsible for market changes, which is why the main goal of business should be “creating a consumer” by showing him his needs. A similar conclusion was drawn by Jebb, according to whom “the next stage of development will be to reach the emotional needs of the audience. Content distributed with virtual and augmented reality will be very helpful.”

Medical topics were strongly represented on day 1 of the conference. Experts talked about the use of VR and AR in the training of surgeons, support for cardiac and plastic surgeries, and strabismus. Marcin Czub from the Institute of Psychology at the University of Wrocław explained also how VR can contribute to activating and facilitating the life of seniors.

Jakub Matyka from Melt and Jacek Stefanowicz from VML Poland presented a case study of one of the biggest Polish marketing successes of the year – the “Samsung presents – The Missed Spaceflight” project. This is a campaign where VR’s experience not only advertised Samsung’s new equipment, but also played a role in an ad about fulfilling one’s dream.

The Ring VR vs AR was the last point of day 1 of the conference – it was a discussion (in the form of a ring fight but instead of fists arguments came into play) about the superiority of each technology: VR or AR. Tomasz Kopczuk (Swingdev) on the VR side and Piotr Baczyński (Immersion) as a representative of AR, were trying to convince the listeners about which of the technologies has bigger market chances. “While being a developer it is worth to think about the reach: a few hundred thousands or billions of devices? This is the advantage of AR over VR “- said Baczyński. “VR allows monetization of not only material goods, but also virtual ones. Imagine selling game tickets through VR – they can be sold up to a thousand times” – argued Kopczuk.

The second day of the conference was launched with a presentation by Dr Brygida Dzidek, who specializes in haptic solutions in applications that are currently valued at $16 billion, and will grow to $45 billion in 2022. – The most important thing is to give the user a sense of presence, that is to transfer the user in time and space in such a way that he is able to pay for it – stated Dzidek.

The use of VR and AR in the construction and development industry was presented by Anna Tryfon-Bojarska and Weronika Kemmer from Skanska. They emphasized that although innovative solutions are difficult in such a conservative industry, VR and AR are increasingly used there. Jakub Korczyński from Giant Lazer spoke about examples of VR / AR use in industry: inventory, vision picking (finding products in the magazines), and accident reporting.

Parallel with the presentations, some workshops took place. One of them was about how to create video 360 materials. The workshops were led by Louis Jebb – a longtime journalist of the British daily “The Independent” and co-author of the newspaper “i” success. Jebb was also the keynote speaker on day 1 – he spoke about the opportunity for media in immersive storytelling that give the recipients a greater sense of presence in the story itself.

The Startup Contest was a novelty at the European VR/AR Congress. 10 young entrepreneurs operating in the VR/AR area took part in this contest. At first, during the workshop they learned how to present the project to potential investors in order to acquire funds for its implementation. The 4 best-rated startups presented their designs to the jury and audience. 1000 realities won the contest – this studio offered support for industrial workers in VR and AR. The main prize was the LenovoAR Jedi Challenges and the Lenovo VR Explorer.

During the networking evening the premiere of the documentary “Polish Virtual Reality” took place – created by Wojciech Szczerba and David Grzesik. About how VR really looks like in Poland spoke the VR experts in marketing, business and entertainment experts, content creators, technology observers, investors and entrepreneurs alike – who already use VR successfully in their work, business model and social life.

However, VR and AR are not only industry and science, but also entertainment. It was not missed in another part of the Congress, the VR / AR expo. Expo visitors could enjoy themselves while playing Star Wars Jedi Challenge or feel like a rally driver in the Gran Turismo game from Sony.

Also a business use for VR and AR applications was shown at the Expo. For example, the Pictureworks studio presented its new AR project, which allows to show on a real mock-up the virtual reconstructions of Warsaw buildings that disappeared from the map during the war. Another interesting example was the stand of the startup Spectra Games, where it was possible to repair a motorcycle using HoloLens.

– We are a place where the technology world meets the business world. The first one inspires the other, the second one invests in the first one – summed up Piotr Graszek, the Executive Director of the Congress.

Marek Miller