90 pairs of VR goggles, three locations, and a whole lot of fiberoptic cable: Last Tuesday, VR CONNECT hosted the first trinational virtual reality conference where attendees in Malmö, Aarhus and Hamburg were able to plunge into virtual worlds at the same time.
A live stream was in place to ensure that presentations by speakers in all three cities could be seen and heard in the other locations. During the presentations, attendees kept reaching for their VR goggles so that they could try out the newest features for themselves. In Aarhus, VR expert Cedric Gamelin from the Emblematic Group spoke about virtual reality as an empathy enhancer and illustrated his theory with methods including a VR experience about a young man who had spent many years in isolation and takes the audience to his former cell. In Malmö, Jaana Nykänen explained Divine Robot, discussed how VR is used as a tool in daily business, and gave examples of VR in agriculture, hunting and medicine.
Mathieu Pradat from La Prairie Productions took on the role of speaker in Hamburg. For him, the conference was an important step towards giving the virtual reality artform a European perspective, "VR Connect has allowed us to show how much is happening in the field of virtual reality in Europe. This is where we have to begin and work together more closely at a European level, as VR is increasingly becoming a social experience, not least because the equipment is becoming smaller and more convenient. We in Europe mustn't shy away from comparisons with China and the USA." Maria Köpf, Managing Director of Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein was also very enthusiastic about the conference, "There is still a huge hype surrounding virtual reality. We've been shown the possibilities in examples at the simultaneous three-country conference, and now we will watch with anticipation to see how VR develops – primarily in a fictional narrative – and continue to offer our support.
Organizers of VR Connect included Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Malmö community platform Media Evolution, and Danish partners VIA University College and Filmby Aarhus. The conference was held as part of the Interreg North Sea Region project, Create Converge.