As I first walked into the Exhibition Hall at last weekend’s VRLA Expo I scanned left to right to take in the sights. One of the first things that caught my eye was the shiny metal stepvan of Exit Reality. At first glance I wasn’t sure what these guys were all about so I approached them for a better look. Even up close I wasn’t entirely sure what I was seeing. They had the van with a line of people queued to enter it and they had a metal pod with a line of people queued to enter it as well. It was clear that both the van and the pod had Vive headsets, so I got why people were in line, but I didn’t really understand what Exit Reality was hawking. It was about an hour long wait in line until I was able to enter the van. My friend and I put the time to good use by getting to know the people of Exit Reality. Continue reading “Exit Reality brings virtual reality to the people”
Los Angeles has quickly become a hot scene for virtual reality. We have a new IMAX virtual reality theater, the Upload LA virtual reality training and networking space, and the VRLA Expo. The Expo took place this past weekend and I was fortunate enough to attend on Saturday, making it my second time at the event. By comparing the 2016 gathering to the 2017 gathering it’s clear that the Los Angeles VR scene is getting hotter still. According to co-founder of VRLA, Cosmo Sharf, there were “over 170 exhibitors this year, filling out the single largest hall of the L.A. Convention Center.” For reference, the first meeting in 2014 had 150 overall attendees. Continue reading “VRLA Summer Expo 2017 recap”
VRLA is about a week and a half away. It’s the biggest virtual reality expo in Los Angeles. It started a few years ago when a couple of college kids realized the lack of a coherent VR scene in town and set about creating one. It’s gone from 150 attendees in 2014 to 6000 last summer and I imagine it might double this year. I’m reading and hearing about people buying badges like it’s just a fun weekend thing to do and not because they’re gonzo about VR like I am. Next year I might have to bite the bullet and buy a pro pass just to deal with a smaller crowd in the exhibition hall. At this point VRLA has become a must attend for me. My experience last year was so good that I don’t want to miss one. I’ve been looking forward to it for so many months that my anticipation is becoming dramatic.
I’ve attended a few years’ worth of San Diego Comic-Cons. Last year’s VRLA was about a month after SDCC. I went into the Los Angeles Convention Center with the same mindset as I take to SDCC: I expected too long of lines, bumping through crowds, and overly packed rooms. I also allow myself to be an embarrassing fanboy at Comic-Con. VRLA is a bunch of industry professionals mixing with the general public. I don’t think most of the industry folks are recognized by the general public folks. I went into VRLA telling myself not to be a fanboy, but I slipped and geeked out on Cosmo Sharf (one of the founders of VRLA). He wasn’t prepared for that and it got awkward. This year I need to approach the expo with a bit more tact and a modified mindset. The expo isn’t overly crowded and bumpy. Yeah, there are lines in the exhibit hall and they can take a while because queues for VR experiences take a while. It’s not okay to become a goofy fanboy in front of Maureen Fan or Bryn Mooser or Kent Bye, even though I’m an appreciative fan of their works (CEO of Baobab Studios, co-founder of RYOT media company, and host of Voices of VR podcast, respectively). I’m attending enough local VR events that I’ll likely encounter these people again and shouldn’t carry the reputation as being “that guy”. Keep it together, Hembree.