Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh and his teammates Mohamedy Hamdy and Hossein Jalali over at Virtuleap see a future where WebVR will bring virtual reality to the masses through web browsers, rather than through a headset. Unfortunately, when it comes to immersive experiences, WebVR sits backstage, while VR headsets from HTC, Oculus, Playstation VR, Google and Samsung soak up all the limelight.
So, the Virtuleap group has teamed up with over 20 partners including the likes of Google, Sketchfab, Samsung, Microsoft and most recently Oculus, to create a hackathon competition that currently has 17 submissions to date. Represented in those submissions are 9 countries, student groups from Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and the ETC at Carnegie Mellon, as well as VR First’s academic network and Sketchfab’s 3D design community. Organizers predict that the submissions could hit around 30 by the cutoff date. Currently the US is the biggest contributor, with one-third of the concepts being showcased so far. Here is Yagiz Mungan’s (San Francisco) entry into the competition as an example of some of the concepts being entered. Mungan’s entry, Illy, is a primitive AI that you can talk to and it responds using synthesizers.
The objective of the hackathon is to bring attention to the potential of WebVR since the organizers feel that it’s the most practical, accessible, democratic, and natural way for the immersive industry to emerge and grow.
“Supporting WebVR wasn’t attractive enough of an option for big players trying to overlay the app store model to an emerging industry,” Bozorgzadeh shared in a press release. “But it requires so much excessive energy and hype, and you can see the impact of this repeating in a cycle of disappointment as reality can’t meet up with that hype.”
Organizers believe that this hackathon is the ideal way to help jumpstart an industry that seems to put the “cart before the horse”. All of this began when Mozilla spearheaded the whole venture a few years back when no other company of consequence seemed to care about WebVR.
In regards to Oculus being the most recent partner joining Virtuleap, Bozorgzadeh says that “with Oculus on board now, participating teams will be of the first to know when React VR is available for early access, they get support and eyeballs watching from all the key players.”
- 1st prize – €30,000 cash and a slot in a 6-month VR accelerator VRBASE in Amsterdam.
- 2nd prize – 3-month internship at Force Field VR in Amsterdam.
To be declared a winner, teams will be judged by individuals from organizations such as Mozilla, Unity, Samsung and DAQRI on quality of concept as well as getting the maximum number of positive votes and views. The deadline for submission is February 1st, and at that point the top 10 concepts will then move on to another panel of judges who will then decide on the final two winning teams. The winning team will be announced on Feb 15th.
“We think WebVR can play a big role in the search of true value adding VR/AR software, because of its ease of use and often open-source character, which in turn enables knowledge sharing,” said Daniel Doornink, Founder and CEO at the VRBASE.
If you’re interested in entering the hackathon, you can find more information at virtuleap.com.