Virtual reality and augmented reality: No. 10 Baltimore tech trend of 2016 - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Dec. 27, 2016 7:36 am

Virtual reality and augmented reality: No. 10 Baltimore tech trend of 2016

2016 was a big year for VR and AR. Baltimore has a community growing around the technology.

BaltiVirtual demo at GDG Baltimore.

(Photo by Stephen Babcock)

The end of the year is a time to think about what’s next for 2017, but it’s also worth reflecting on how we got here. We’re looking back at some of the themes that kept coming up in our coverage of Baltimore’s tech community in 2016. See the full list of 2016 trends here.


The technology for virtual reality has been there for a while. We all remember the arcade games. But with the cost of hardware coming down, startups and creatives are finding diverse uses and business in virtual reality and augmented reality. Like it was everywhere else, 2016 was a big year for VR in Baltimore.

Gaming still holds a lot of promise, which shouldn’t be a surprise given Baltimore’s strength in that area. We saw VR at events like Gamescape and during Baltimore Innovation Week.

But the increasing ubiquity of the technology is showing promise in other areas. Film is a big one. Hampden’s Digital Cave Media worked with the Discovery Channel and participants in Johns Hopkins’ film incubator also embraced immersion as a tool of discovery.

A VR series organized by FutureMakers, the state and libraries in Prince George’s County laid the groundwork as a tool for education. In the university setting, UMBC dedicated an entire room to offer VR/AR research. One of the university’s administrators compared it to the Holodeck from Star Trek last year. This year, Mindgrub actually built a VR Holodeck.

There’s lots of talk in national tech publications about whether augmented reality stole the show, and Baltimore witnessed the highs and scary moments of Pokémon Go. The community also saw its own AR success as BaltiVirtual blended a mobile AR app and consumer product with HoloTats, and scored a distribution deal in the process.

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Like many emerging technologies in the past, it was fueled by an event — the BmoreVR Meetup in this case — which provided a place for the community to share and learn.

With the community in place and uses in industries like real estate starting to pop up, virtual reality seems poised to grow further in 2017.

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