A Weekend of Making Virtual Reality Very Real

It was only a matter of time before it happened but October 17-19, 2014 was the first SF/Bay area Virtual Reality Hackathon held at the Gray Area Theater in San Francisco's Mission District.

Initiated by those from the SF/Bay Area Virtual Reality community and with big help from the Web3D Consortium and LEAP Motion, the hackathon brought together developers, designers, and other enthusiasts for a weekend of collaboration on various virtual reality projects.

It started Friday night with a VR Mega-mixer and a couple presentations before diving into hackathon logistics. with plenty of demos for visitors to try out including my favorite from Sixense who brought their Star Wars Jedi trainer app that uses their new Stem controllers.

NASA's JPL team presented on a collaboration they did with Sony on a prototype VR system using their Morpheus headset to control robots for mining asteroids, and CTO David Holz from Leap Motion gave an interesting view with his presentation 'A Quick Peek at the Future of Wearable Displays and Inputs'. 

Projects from the Saturday and Sunday hackathon ranged from immersive 360° video, games, VR controlled underwater UAVs, mobile VR experiences, and more. Check out the VR Hackathon Winners' page to see the teams that won in the different categories.

Not all the teams have shared their projects but here are some I have info on.

Best Open Web VR Project winner Project Med Explorer used the Oculus Rift, Javascript, WebVR, X3Dom, and Leap Motion for a medical image Gallery Demo.

Best of Show and Best Unity VR Project winner team 1-800-Reactive made an awesome VR Ghostbusters game. This is among my top favorite VR experiences as seen in the video below.

Definitely worth checking out is Kean Walmsley's blog Through the Interface that has a nice writeup here about the event and his time there with Autodesk. Also make sure to visit the website's Hackathon Winners page to see all the category winners and the Web3D Consortiums page for additional information. 

As one of the organizers I want to take a moment to thank all of our sponsors, the great community that participated, the various meetup groups that helped spread the word, and a very special thanks to Dr. Mike Aratow, Eriks Strals, Elizabeth Ruscitto, Anthony Lerma, Edwin, and Cade from LEAP Motion that did all the magic to make this event happen. The next event is being planned for April and I am very much looking forward to it. Hope to see you there!


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