For three days, from 4th to 6th November 2014, the RDS was the setting for: intense networking, technological innovation, investment opportunities, social media trends, Irish culture, pub crawls and so much more. This was the first Web Summit I’ve ever been to and it definitely will not be the last.
As soon as the countdown began on the screen on the main stage, everybody fell silent and waited in eager anticipation for the opening of the 2014 Web Summit. When the countdown reaches zero and Paddy Cosgrave, the founder of the Web Summit, hasn’t appeared on cue this is when you realize that even at a technological event there can be technical hitches. But no one cared as the intro music began and Paddy made his entrance to cheers and applause, everyone could sense that this was the beginning of an incredible event. Of course expectations are high especially when the attendance for the 2014 Web Summit is 22,000 compared to the 10,000 in 2013.
Paddy opened the event by jokingly confessing that he almost killed some of the CEO’s attending the Web Summit. The night before some of them including CEO of Dropbox, Drew Houston, were at his house having celebratory drinks when the smoke from his chimney almost caused a fire. However, thankfully the Dublin city fire brigade came to the rescue and made sure everyone got out safe, sound and unharmed and of course the Web Summit could go ahead as planned. This story put everyone at ease and reminded everyone to work, have fun but to be safe.
After the opening remark, the first scheduled talk for day one on the centre stage was virtual reality in the real world by Skip Rizzo and Gary Marcus. Virtual reality has made a comeback thanks to the Oculus Rift; its success will only increase thanks to its acquisition by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Mark was smart to jump the bandwagon and buy Oculus Rift before it hits the big time and of course he can only help its growth and success for the future, thanks to his billions and brilliant business mind-set. Now I will admit that I was dubious at first especially since virtual reality isn’t a new thing and it hasn’t always worked out for the best. If anything it faded almost into obscurity until it came back with a bang.
Thanks to headlining partnerships with Game of Thrones, Pacific Rim, Sleepy Hollow, X-Men and many more, virtual reality has once again found its way back into the hearts of the old, current and the new generation. In fact the Oculus Rift virtual reality experiences always had a queue from Game of Thrones ascend the wall, during its exhibition tour, to the drifting experience in a Jaeger from Pacific Rim at San Diego Comic Con 2014.
What I didn’t know until this panel by Skip and Gary was that the Oculus Rift was being used to treat war veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder. The audience was given a demonstration on how virtual reality could be used as an instrument to help war veterans to cope with what they saw and experienced in war. This is what technological innovation is really about at its core, to help or make things easier by coming up with a solution. For example many of us have downloaded various types of apps to our smartphones as each one assists us in our everyday lives, whether at home or at work.
Speaking of Oculus Rift, its Founder and CEO, Brendan Iribe, appeared on stage next to talk about the future of Oculus Rift and of course the burning question on everyone’s mind, ‘When would the Oculus Rift be available on the market for individual home use?’ According to Brendan it could be within the next few months after they have fixed any issues, they want to make sure that what they put out in the market will be perfect. Can you imagine the future of games could be collaborative works with companies such as Microsoft, maybe take a virtual tour of the open world of Skyrim, Mass Effect or even Minecraft. The possibilities are endless, as virtual reality is not limited to games, films or even therapy.
The latest film collaboration with Oculus Rift is Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, those luckily enough to try out the virtual reality experience will get to explore the spaceship as seen in the film.
The last stop for this virtual reality experience is Virginia’s Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center (November 5–19). It’s too bad that this isn’t available outside the USA, I’m sure many fans would’ve loved to have taken part after seeing the film at the cinema. Maybe in the future, this experience will be readily available worldwide. In fact it could be the way to save the cinema from dying, especially in this generation of streaming and downloading.
Contact me for any Press, Reviews, Advertising or General Enquiries.
I love food, films, TV, photography and technology.