6 ways to experience virtual reality in Baltimore - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Mar. 6, 2017 12:57 pm

6 ways to experience virtual reality in Baltimore

In Baltimore, there's a VR cave, a holodeck and plenty of chances to connect with VR innovators. Let us count the ways.
At the VR Game Jam in South Bowie, Md.

At the VR Game Jam in South Bowie, Md.

(Photo courtesy of Nestor Diaz/Prince George's County Public Library System)

Virtual reality has come a long way since the arcade rigs of the ’90s. Developments to make the technology look better and easier to deliver have led to renewed interest, and the Baltimore area’s roots in game design have the city well-positioned for the next wave.

It’s not just about creating the next Pokémon Go. The next wave of entrepreneurs and enthusiasts also see new ways to use VR, from education to industry. That means there are new places to plug in. Here are a few we’ve seen in Baltimore recently:

A Meetup 

Just some of the VR technology on display at the Baltimore Innovation Week 2015 kickoff event.

Just some of the VR technology on display at the Baltimore Innovation Week 2015 kickoff event. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

The BmoreVR meetup organized by Will Gee of BalitVirtual and Greg Aring of Seven Hills Games has been holding regular events to accomplish two main goals:

  • let developers show off what they’re creating with virtual reality
  • let attendees discover what’s possible with virtual reality

Check out what Technical.ly Editorial Director Christopher Wink spotlighted at one event held during Baltimore Innovation Week. Some of these meetups aren’t necessarily labelled as VR, but they’re still hotspots. Last year’s Gamescape is one example in that category that stood out.

A University 

Inside UMBC's immersive lab.

Inside UMBC’s immersive lab.

Known as “The Cave” around campus, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s recently opened π² Immersive Hybrid Reality Lab is designed to help researchers in all sorts of disciplines. In a room, screens cover an entire wall allowing for a new kind of visualization.

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The Library

Keep an eye on the stacks. FutureMakers, Aring and the state’s library system teamed up on an intriguing pilot project last year at the Prince George’s County library. Along with demonstrating virtual reality, a roadshow also gave students a chance to create a game in the medium using Unity. We’ll be watching to see if the technology starts appearing in other local libraries.

In Film

A mock-up of the Lillie May Carroll Jackson AR exhibit. (courtesy image)

A mock-up of the Lillie May Carroll Jackson AR exhibit. (Courtesy image)

Johns Hopkins now has a film incubator for folks looking to work on new ways to tell stories with film. Last year, we profiled a couple of the Saul Zaentz Fund-backed projects that used virtual reality. In their respective projects, Annette Porter and Taura Musgrove found the medium to be a tool to bring audiences closer to stories that may otherwise be marginalized.

A Startup

Looking to show how they’re experimenting with the latest technology — and, of course, to give a Star Trek shoutout — Mindgrub installed a virtual reality holodeck last year. According to Leanne Matlach’s report, putting on the headset can transport you into the kitchen or under the sea. The project recently won a v prestigious NET/WORK Award.

Your Next Apartment

(Image courtesy of Seawall Development/Be The To Studios)

(Image courtesy of Seawall Development/Be The To Studios)

Remington Row was still under construction, but Seawall Development found a way to show off what a finished apartment would look like. Working with Be The To Studios, the developers created a virtual reality tour that showed the layout. It could be used on- or off-site.

Projects: AR/VR Month 2017
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