Home / Blog / Oculus Connect 2014 / Sept 19th, 2014 : Day 1
September 19th, 2014 (Friday, Day 1 of the Oculus Connect Conference, Hollywood CA)
On the morning of the first day of the conference, I ended up having breakfast in Mel's Diner, with a few other conference atendees, two of whom I met randomly on Hollywood blvd minutes before (they recognized me because I was wearing my VR Jam 2013 t-shirt), and three others (the guys from Thrive audio) we met in the diner. It was great sharing the excitement for the upcoming conference, and to me somewhat remarkable that at this small impromptu meeting we represented 7 countries (France/South Korea, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Scotland/Greece). Photos here and here.
A couple of hours later we are in the lobby of the Loew's hotel eagerly waiting for the conference registration to begin. As it turns out, one of the guys I had breakfast with (Kevin from InnerspaceVR) is currently based in South Korea, working closely with Oculus and Samsung getting their content working with the upcoming Samsung Gear VR. At this point Andrew Kim (Biz Dev Director at Oculus VR, Korea) walks throught the lobby, Kevin introduces us to him, and arranges an impromptu private demo in a quite corner on the second floor. It had been one of my hopes that I would get a chance to try out the Samsung Gear VR, and here I was getting a private demo, before the conference registration had even opened.
To be honest I have had somewhat modest expectations for the Samsung Gear VR, it is based on a smartphone after all. However, the demos that I tried (from InnerspaceVR) proved to me how well it works, and even got me interested in possibly porting my projects over. The content I experienced was pretty awesome, and the feeling of being able turn around without about any cables was truly liberating. I had suddenly become excited about the prospect of portable, untethered VR, and this was only the (HD) dev kit! My sincerest thanks to Kevin and Balthazar (InnerspaceVR) and Andrew (Oculus VR) for making this happen.
On my way downstairs through the hotel lobby, still buzzing from Gear VR demo, and the anticipation of the still upcoming conference, I spot none other than John Carmack. As I am sure any game developer will tell you, Carmack has been a huge inspiration and influence both on a personal and professional level. For years, I have followed his talks online, read "Masters of Doom", and of course spent countless hours playing his games over the years (Wolfenstein, Doom , Quake, etc..). I hate to admit it, but seeing him standing a just few feet away from me, I felt somewhat starstruck. Things were really starting to get interesting, and the conference hadn't even started yet....
During the afternoon/early evening before and after the conference started, things went into overdrive, and it would be impossible to write about everything that happened withou producing a medium length novel. However some notable highlights of my day, included the Starbucks pre registration meetup, where, an unsupsecting Palmer Luckey is grabbed and greeted, getting to try out the actual consumer hardware Samsung Gear VR (with the upcoming Samsung Note 4 with the 1440p screen) (photo), my first conference lecture ('The Human Visual System') (photo), and of course the welcome reception (almost overloaded on great food, drinks and VR), with a welcome greeting from Palmer (photo).
On the Friday evening, there were so many exciting things to do (official demos, unofficial demos setup in various locations, great people to talk to and hang out with, food, booze etc..), that I really had to make an effort to pull myself away, to get to the demo area. I had spent a lot of time (before traveling) polishing 'Combat Helciopter VR' to show here, and certainly didn't want to miss the opportunity to get some feedback face-to-face with other developers and researchers. Setup was smooth, Oculus had kindly provided us with everything we needed : powerful rigs, giant screens, DK2s, and (thankfully) wireless Xbox 360 controllers. Thanks to Daniel (from Sweden), who I had shared the earlier private Gear VR demo with, came with me, and helped me setup, I had the demo running (in extended mode) within minutes, and it was running very smoothly.
As a test run, I grabbed my first 'victim' who happened to be non other than Doc_Oculus, a VR researcher whose work I have admired and been inspired by for sometime, and who coincidentally happens to be a self confessed 'helicopter nerd'. And indeed over the next couple of hours, many people demoed my project, and this led to countless interesting conversations, people giving me feedback on gameplay mechanics, simulator sickness (or thankfully for the most part, a lack thereof), getting suggestions, discussing design decisions, and getting to know what their VR interests/projects/experiences were all about. And although, as it turns out, I may have missed out on a few things (Tactical Haptics demo for example), demoing my project was an invaluable and exciting experience for me. (some photos of conference attendees playing 'Combat Helicopter VR' : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).