by Riley McMahon from United States

       My Hero was pleased to be given access to the 2017 SIGGRAPH technology conference, a conference that since 1974 has highlighted new technologies and their effects on communication, art and how these tools can affect our society.  The conference this year welcomed researchers and artists that presented their work with a focus on the possibilities of immersive technology.  There was an overwhelming sense that the growing availability of these tools will without question change our landscape, how we interact with each other, but also that art, and today's students will change our social landscape as they grow and learn how to use and develop these tools.  Findings in research really stressed that it is children that are learning how to use virtual reality and adapting to it with the greatest speed and ease.  The fields of computer programming merging with art are clearly the driving force of how we will interact, teach, and support each other, presenting new opportunities, fields and modes of expression with stories and art.  There were so many great highlights of the conference and developers that have created meaningful, immersive and empowering tools with these technologies.  The exhibitors gave inside access into their work and there were many highlights. 

114215STRATA      The STRATA experience created by the Mill is a biometric VR experience, one which reads your stress levels through gentle, non-invasive sensors attached to your body that generate readings of skin temperature, brainwaves, heart rate, breathing and muscle activity to create an experience designed to improve and help users understand that through simple techniques and mindfulness, their stress levels and thus overall health can be improved.  The user is connected to these sensors and virtual reality goggles and presented with an immersive landscape.  Beginning in a cave lined with glowing lights, the user is encouraged to use steady breathing and mindfulness and as your stress levels decrease with your own relaxation, you rise slowly, seamlessly and steadily into different environments -- a meadow, a floating island, a crystal lined aurora, a stellar nebula of colorful gasses, each ascension determined by the lowering and lowering of your stress levels.  Finally, you are lifted into an immersive white light and the process is complete.  As the sensors are removed and the goggles taken off there is a deep feeling of relaxation.  The aim of this project is to increase health by decreasing stress, and the Mill hopes it can be utilized in medical and healthcare fields for patients undergoing chemotherapy and difficult procedures as well as psychologists for mindfulness training and stress alleviation, anger management and empathy counseling.  The experience is a prime example of the great and humane abilities of companies and these technologies to aid in the welfare of communities and individuals and we hope to see more experiences like this to come. 

114216Hollo Doodle      HOLO DOODLE is an experience that demonstrates how fun it can be to share with other's environments and socially interact as you take the shape of different robots, without identity, free to move and interact with each other, it combines cutting-edge technology, and some of the best creative minds in the VR world to create an intimate, social hangout for users who assume the body playful pink robots.  It brings participants into a fun anonymous space to move and dance freely around with each other.      

114215 is an immersive environment created by artist and sculptor Kevin Mack, a computer effects programmer who has had a long career in movies and entertainment.  He has created a fully immersive, meditative world that allows the participant to fly on a hoverboard through his sculpted virtual space.  The experience uses hand controls and goggles to allow the viewer to freely move through walls, above the surrounding maze space, and alters sense of space and generates a powerful example of the capabilities of and true artistry of these technologies.  The aim of the piece is to entourage deep relaxation in the participant, the artist hopes the tools can aid in open brain surgeries and hospice programs. 

114219Out of Exile      Nonny de la Pena, a My Hero award winner and true innovator in virtual technology and storytelling, was a presenter and exhibitor at the conference.  Combining her background in computer programming, she has used virtual reality and its ability to tell stories to create new forms of journalism aimed to alter and change participants perspectives and the development of deeper understanding and involvement in events.  She sees a future where digital virtual reality and augmented reality will come to together -- news organizations creating whole teams to bring this work to the public.  Her exhibition at the conference allowed individuals to engage with one of her virtual experiences, "Out of Exile," a story raising awareness for the LGBTQ community and the struggles they have faced to gain acceptance of their identities in our society.  The viewer is placed inside a living room where the family of a young man is seated in various positions, waiting for him, attempting to have an intervention on his lifestyle, an story that is difficult and presses the viewers conceptions of this reality for so many individuals.  The participant is inside an artistically and computer generated living room -- the audio recording is the actual sound from the young man's phone and you are able to move around the room as an omniscient presence, able to get close to and look in the faces of the biased family members, as well as the young man's, and develop a strong sense of empathy for him as the story unfolds.  The process forces the viewer into a situation where they must look at the ethics and moral dilemma of a situation and one which can bridge biases and misconceptions and is a powerful example of technology's ability to make people far more understanding of each other, and promote peaceful acceptance of their identities. 

     My Hero was pleased to be able to discover these great projects to share how students and teachers can engage with these tools to create a better, more peaceful and understanding world for all of us. 



Page created on 9/6/2017 3:58:21 PM

Last edited 9/14/2018 8:44:32 PM

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