VR Evolution conference, London, 16 February 2017

By Marija Butkovic (@MarijaButkovic)

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On 16th of February I attended Virtual Reality Evolution conference in London, organised by Maddox Events. Women of Wearables was proud to be media partner for the event which meant we had access to a great number of panel discussions and speaker sessions throughout the day.

VR Evolution was created to inspire and connect all those who want to learn about the latest in VR technology, its economic possibilities, understand its innovative uses and applications and hear from companies have already paved the way of implementation and gain cutting-edge insight into VR technology and how it can be commercialised.

Organisers brought together more than 25 keynote speakers and panelists, to debate how businesses can benefit from implementing VR, why the focus should be on commercialisation of VR, and why VR is set to change many more industry verticals than just gaming.

On the day there were more than 200 delegates representing over 100 companies from gaming, retail, sports, media, education, property and many other sectors. Companies featured Microsoft, Vive, Samsung, Cisco, The Guardian, Deloitte, Jaguar Land Rover, many startups and VR influencers.

The keynote speakers included Graham Breen, Program Manager EMEA Virtual Reality at HTC Vive who spoke about Virtual Reality as the next mass medium; Francesca Panetta, Executive Director VR at The Guardian who shared her insights on how to translate journalism into VR; Leila Martine, Director of Product Marketing at Microsoft who gave a really inspiring presentation on Microsoft HoloLens and its path to mixed reality.

I found the panel on VR content for the media and entertainment industry particularly interesting because of my own journalistic / writing background, and it was really great to find out about different ways and practices on how VR is changing traditional journalism and media industry. This panel was featuring Dan Tucker, VR Producer and Curator of Alternate Realities at Sheffield International Documentary Festival; Ra Nizam, Global Creative Director at NBC Universal; Madiana Asseraf,  Senior Media Development Manager at EBU and Catherine Allen, Immersive Media Specialist. 

The panel on Hypertext Reality: how the web democratises VR was eye opening because the VR/AR for Web promises to be one of the most fascinating technology challenges in the future. The scale and overall implications of this could be groundbreaking. Panelists highlighted that one of the critical domains to cover is the definition of a standard development, deployment and management model for VR/AR Web applications, including the formal definition of physical things, media types and the associated data types. This panel included Diego González - Zúñiga, Developer Advocate at Samsung; Ada Rose Edwards, Senior Engineer at Samsung; Elite Sher, Creative Engineer at Microsoft and Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh, Co-Founder of Virtuleap.

The key takeaway from the event was that it was definitely the right place to meet industry influencers and experts who not only came from the VR industry but also wearable tech and IoT industries. There has been alot of buzz about virtual reality and excitement lately and rightfully so. From the conference, we learnt that the benefits of VR go beyond the gaming industry into medicine, education and retail, where VR has proved to be very much aligned with the evolving and rising demands of consumer experiences. Businesses are increasingly coming up with ways to integrate virtual reality in ways that can benefit not only their customers but their employees as well.  

VR is already on the path to become next big thing in business.

Thank you, Maddox Events and VR Evolution, for this great conference and hope to see you next year!

This blog was written by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, co-founder of Women of Wearables and Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.