Valence Takes Part in Seattle Interactive Conference 2018

Valence Takes Part in Seattle Interactive Conference

#SIC2018 Exhibitor’s Hall

Visionary thinkers seeking disruptive technologies and innovative business models were brought together at the Seattle Interactive Conference(SIC) hosted in downtown Seattle on October 17th and 18th. During the course of two days, thousands of entrepreneurs, online business professionals, executives, and students attended SIC to share inspiration and learn about what is happening at the intersection of technology, creativity, and commerce. Valence was excited to participate in this annual event, and we had many great conversations with people across sectors wanting to learn more about the emerging technologies — and that’s what we do at Valence!

In Valence’s booth, we shared our visions and exhibited how we continuously innovate and help enterprise drive digital transformation through applying modern technologies including AR/VR, artificial intelligence, IoT, voice and chat, blockchain and more.

Valence was especially proud to showcase the fully immersive Space Needle Virtual Reality Tour that many SIC attendees raved about! Valence built this VR tour as part of Seattle’s Space Needle renovation marketing campaign rolled out in spring this year, which allowed local and national journalists to virtually see and feel what visitors would experience when the huge makeover to the Space Needle completed later in summer.

Putting on a VR headset (Samsung Odyessy: Windows Mixed Reality) and stepping onto a custom built haptic stage, within a minute the user would experience the elevator ride up to Space Needle’s observation deck and be looking down at the 500 feet between them and the ground, through a rotating glass floor.

During this virtual tour, those who have a fear of heights were often hesitant to put their foot forward onto the “glass floor” initially, as it felt too real to them, but in the end, they were very amazed by the experience of walking on a rotating glass floor and sitting back on a glass bench floating over the Seattle skyline.

We also brought in a pair of Magic Leap mixed reality glasses to demonstrate how users can interact with not only the 3D digital objects created in a virtual environment mapped to the current room they are in, but also the room and the physical objects inside it. For example, they can add a virtual animal on the coffee table that’s physically in the room; they can walk around and see the animal at different angles. The exhibition area immediately becomes the user’s playground once they put these glasses on, and people are excited about where the mixed reality technology will take them beyond gaming.

Among the visionaries at the conference was Valence’s very own Hannah Mintek, Head of Design, who was on a panel of XR (Mixed Reality) insiders, along with Vinay Narayan from HTC Vive, Andrew Mitrak from HaptX, and Theresa Moore from Pixability to share their insight about how we can make sure the future of XR tech is based on reality.

We had an epic time learning and networking at Seattle Interactive Conference and hope to see you next year!

Augmented World Expo 2018— a recap through the eyes of Valence

Augmented World Expo 2018— a recap through the eyes of Valence

Matthew Carlisle — Director of Technology

Several of us engineers and developers from Valence spent the last few days of May at the 9th Annual Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, California. Since not everyone could attend, I thought I’d share some insights and impressions, since it was a pretty amazing (um, should I say awe-inspiring?) experience!

Valence was one of the few service providers there, possibly because AR hasn’t reached mass adoption yet. There’s been a ton of interest (remember Pokémon Go?) and some cool demo projects, but it hasn’t fully caught fire. At least not for the mass consumer market. Yet. (More on that below… keep reading!)

Here’s what I DID notice at the Augmented World Expo, though. It looks like wearable AR glasses are making a come-back. For a while, there was mainly just Microsoft’s HoloLens. Of course, that was after the Google Glass experiment, which turned out not to be such a great success. Perhaps it was simply before its time, or perhaps too consumer focused given the $1,500 price tag, or perhaps not focused enough on privacy. Whatever the reason, things went south for a time.

But it definitely looks like the technology is on the rise again, this time more aligned with enterprise and industrial uses. At AWE, there must have been over 30 manufacturers of various grades of mixed reality glasses, screens, etc. Companies like ODG are innovating and creating devices kind of like chunky sunglasses with a phenomenal amount of power and a visual experience that’s top of the line.

There’s a huge variety, too, with multiple kinds of products entering the marketplace. You have full-immersion 3D AR, like HoloLens and the ODG offerings (some of ODG’s products are made for gaming and offer theater-quality visuals).

Then there are industrial or enterprise options for the factory and warehouse. One company that caught our eye was RealWear, which manufactures tough, helmet-mounted AR goggles with voice activation for workers and technicians. These are not 3D or immersive, but they are a way to add data, value, and functionality to the experience — think tutorials on how to make a repair on-site, like while you’re looking at a broken carburetor or wind turbine.

They’re all great for a hands-free, heads-up work experience, say in hazardous environments. Or for adding to 3D development projects, like in real estate or city planning. There’s a lot of interest in the health care field and other commercial uses, as well.

Costs are coming down, but the devices are still expensive. That’s why there is a lot of experimentation all around, and we have yet to see mass adoption or any wide-scale use of this technology, especially in consumer markets. That’s actually a normal pattern for technology adoption, especially when it comes to hardware.

For now, the main energy in AR for consumers seems to be coming from the mobile handset universe. It has started to become widely adopted at this point, with movie premiers using AR to engage fans and grow audiences, IKEA and Home Depot joining the fray to help consumers visualize their purchases, and cosmetics retailer Sephora enabling consumers to try virtual makeup without leaving the house.

Surprisingly, there were very few mobile AR vendors or developers at AWE. I’m not sure why that it is. Maybe because mobile AR has moved from being cool to just being something everyone can do — especially with new tools like Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore. Or perhaps it’s not considered “real” AR, but simply a mobile experience.

At the Augmented World Expo, Tony Parisi, Head of AR/VR ads for Unity and an AWE speaker had a really interesting take on this duality, contrasting the high-end AR headset market for industrial use and the consumer market’s more entertainment-oriented approach to the technology.

At Valence, we add augmented reality or virtual reality experiences for our industrial and enterprise clients, so they can access the best of both worlds at once: the real world in front of them plus the virtual world of critical information, data, and context.

We were awestruck by our time at AWE, and we’re back home imagining the possibilities. Interested in hearing more? Contact us, and we’ll start you off with a demo, to show how remarkable this technology can be!