July 24, 2018 | Washington DC
By Kieran McQuilkin
Last night, the VR/AR Association‘s D.C. chapter hosted an event at La Vie in the Wharf. But its attendees were coasting along the Pyrenees Mountains and above the Great Pyramid of Gyza.
Rooftop Realities, co-hosted by Discovery, invited guests to explore virtual reality through a collection of devices at the forefront of the consumer market.
An Oculus Go station put users in all sorts of virtual landscapes to look around and explore through a headset. A Google Earth VR app, aided by just two cameras, let me fly to anywhere in the world, turning left and right to check out the scenery. And a simple augmented reality setup showed me on screen popping a champagne bottle and spraying it – without having to pop the cork.
I’ll admit that not having an open bottle of bubbly afterward was slightly disappointing, but I digress.
The room covered the spectrum of D.C.’s VR and AR adopters, from a freelance 360-degree videographer to Discovery’s Interactive Creative Director Cory Key.
Key landed Discovery in the VR scene with an Emmy-winning splash in 2013 with Skywire Live, where a 360-degree video showed the perspective of Nik Wallenda as he walked a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. He said Discovery has since garnered 190M video views on similar content.
“VR had always been meant to be for Discovery, it just hadn’t been invented yet,” Key told the crowd. “It was almost like the industry was waiting for a big media company to jump into this.”
But event attendees showed that smaller D.C.-area media companies are hopping on board too.
Daniel Zeballos is a COO at Illustrate My Design, or IMD. The company creates virtual renderings of building projects, allowing architects and designers to tour structures that don’t exist yet. He said just a handful of companies are in the market, and hopes widespread adoption of VR will put more headsets in more architects’ offices.