AMD Brings Toronto the VR Treatment at Immersed 2016

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The Ontario Science Centre in Toronto is well-known for the electricity ball demonstration that jolts your hair strands in all directions, but the venue was home to a VR event from October 16 to 18 inviting industry professionals, kids, families and teachers to try out VR—some, for the first time.

Immersed, put on by the Immersive Technology Alliance, brought nearly 40 speakers together in Toronto—an event Daryl Sartain, AMD’s director of VR, kicked off by opening the keynote address on the significance and future of VR. Curated with speakers, VR-dedicated businesses and plenty of demo set-ups and HTC Vive headsets at the ready, the event primed itself as the foremost VR networking event in Toronto, already home to a number of thriving technology hubs.

With AMD as the main sponsor, the VR demo booths were spread out in two spaces: one for industry professionals, ready to check out the latest in VR development, and one for the public, for those wandering through the museum and the visiting schools on field trips. The professional space enjoyed a steady crowd, eager to learn, shake hands and ask questions while the public space saw an excitable group of kids rush in through the doors to the booths space, jumping at the chance to dive into VR.

Both spaces were abuzz. A clear distinction emerged among those who tried VR for the first time. Kids, in their ever-growing sense of wonder and insatiable curiosity, instantly acclimated to their surroundings and made use of their space in a way kids often do. Ducking, dodging and even rolling on the carpeted floor of the event space, their arms flailed wildly and heads whipped in all directions playing Space Pirate Trainer while evading invisible enemies. Adults looked around hesitantly, rooted to their spots, reaching out to touch the shipwreck railing in the underwater simulator theBlu.

But a reaction that came up again and again among children and adults was one of awe.

For kids, their eyes were glued to the computer monitor and they cried out victoriously every time their friend successfully shot down a droid. For adults, taking careful steps in within their VR box, reached out for the whale that would throw them off-balance as it whipped through the waters.

Though Immersed was a networking event lined with opportunities for professionals, the event was also meant to be an educational one. With the way both kids and adults walked away astonished from their VR experience, stepping into VR for the first time was proof of technology truly taking them to new heights, and getting immersed in a completely novel world.

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  1. All photographs were taken in a photography-marked zone at Immersed 2016.

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