Event Report: Virtual Reality Immersion Event

The practical applications of VR were showcased in a unique London event last month

Last week SFX sneaked into a posh event hosted by handle , in which the likes of nDreams and Alphabet Collective showcased new tech in London’s first "Virtual Reality Immersion Event for Business."

VR is a staple of sci-fi movies, from The Lawnmower Man to The Matrix . It's at the heart of popular novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline which will soon become a movie by Warner. But up until now in real life it's perhaps been a gimmick that few companies have been able to fully exploit. Last week business leaders within some of the foremost media companies came together to discuss the commercial viability of VR technology and its likely impact on their respective industries. Yep, that's SFX 's group editor-in-chief on the left there trying out some of the gear on display.

Oculus Rift at handle VR showcase

There were presentations and a chance to have a tinker with the likes of the Oculus Rift and Samsung’s latest production-ready VR headsets (which nDreams have been quick to develop software for including Gunner , a first person space shooter). Oculus was a Kickstarter project turned VR superpower having been acquired by Facebook in a $2bn acquisition earlier in the year. Since then, headset manufactures and games companies have been scrambling to launch titles on the key platforms; Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus and the recently announced Samsung Gear VR.

handle VR showcase at Home House

A broad range of interested companies attended the intimate evening event including NBCUniversal, The Tate, Harper Collins and Unicef, who had representatives present to either educate or be educated on the applications VR might afford their organisations. Alphabet Collective, a start-up formed by Matthew McGuire and John Henderson, demoed their VR engine for designing and showcasing building interiors. They spoke about the value of VR environments in helping film studios pre-visualise locations, to estate agents to offer virtual walkthroughs of luxury apartments, and to education, as students could remotely "visit" places like the Louvre.

What do you think: is today's emerging technology about to make VR a common tool in the workplace and at home, or is there still a long way to go before we're all wearing headsets every day? Have you tried out the Oculus Rift? Would you like the chance to do so? Do you think VR has applications beyond entertainment? Which movie, TV or book shows VR in the most realistic light, do you think? All thoughts welcome in the comments section below or by email to the usual address !