Thousands experience futuristic technology at Vancouver's Consumer Virtual Reality Convention

Two men take part in VRStudios' VRCade. All photos by Sam Moore

Pop music blasted throughout the hall. Fog machines created a weak haze that permeated the space. 

Hundreds of people waited in lines, while hundreds more navigated crowded passages between booths. They had gathered to try virtual reality, tech’s newest craze, and most had no problem waiting hours just to get a glimpse.

Over 2,500 people gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre on May 14 for Consumer Virtual Reality (CVR) 2016, the first ever international convention of its kind.

"The goal with CVR is to get as many people as possible playing virtual reality and experiencing why it's so powerful firsthand," said Robyn Gummer, marketing manager of Vancouver based VR studio Archiact Interactive, which sponsored the event. 

In her welcoming address, Vancouver deputy Mayor Heather Deal described virtual reality as the future of the city's growing tech industry, and that future was on display in a variety of forms. 

Attendees could explore the sci-fi world of Cloudhead Games' Call of The Star Seed, or shoot zombies in VRStudio's wireless VRcade playspace, among many other gaming experiences.

Other booths showed off everything from virtual real estate open houses geared toward people looking to buy homes in a new city, to a VR meditation space, to 360-degree video experiences. 

It was plain to see that many of the event goers had never experienced virtual reality. Many participants appeared to have initial difficulty adjusting to the VR world experienced at the booths.

"It's kind of disorienting at first, but you kind of get used to it. You go from 'whoa this is weird' to 'whoa this is really cool'," said Jacob Madrid, who helped run a booth which displayed Tilt Brush, a VR painting program where where shapes can be created floating in 3D space on the HTC Vive headset. 

"People are picking it up pretty quick," said Madrid. 

There were also a number of speakers and panels that ran throughout the day. Topics ranged from what it's like to develop for virtual reality, to how it can affect things like advertising and e-commerce, to how journalism could be affected by this new medium.

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