Walt Disney Animation, Qualcomm, ILMxLAB are just a few of the winners announced during the 2020 VR Awards.
The Academy of International Extended Reality (AIXR) has been celebrating momentous accomplishments in VR since 2017 with their annual VR Awards. Each year over 70 experts in immersive technology come together to meticulously inspect everything from innovative new hardware to groundbreaking VR experiences to other colossal advancements that will push VR into brand new directions.
This year, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers turned to the very technology they were celebrating in order to conduct this year’s festivities, moving the entire award show into the metaverse for the world’s-first fully immersive VR awards ceremony. Anyone in attendance could walk around a virtual lounge space and hobnob with other attendees, judges, and of course, meet the amazing people behind the nominated VR experiences. This alone should win an award!
Speaking of awards, let’s dive into this year’s winners! There were over 157 international nominations from companies such as Walt Disney Animation, Qualcomm, ILMxLAB, Valve, and others, with 94 finalists in 14 categories being presented to the judges. This year also saw two new categories being added to the VR Awards: Lifetime Achievement and VR Social Influencer.
Here are a few of the standout winners from this year’s VR Awards!
Healthcare of the Year Award – FundamentalVR
This is honestly one of the more important awards presented this year. As COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket around the globe, how exactly do we train healthcare professionals for this daunting uphill battle without risking their safety?
FundamentalVR’s Teaching Space software gives young medical professionals hands-on experience crucial for developing mental muscle memory on important tools, such as modern ventilators. It’s keeping our doctors, nurses, and emergency responders safe while simultaneously preparing them for their frontline fight against COVID.
You can read more about FundamentalVR’s work here.
VR Game of the Year – Half-Life: Alyx
Visually stunning and oozing with incredible detail, Half-Life: Alyx is a VR gamers dream. Valve’s AAA VR shooter is full of insane action, well-designed puzzles, and plenty of goofy moments that make for some amazing gameplay. Whether it be the action-packed combat, captivating narrative, or A+ characters, HL:A has a little something for everyone, making it the obvious choice for VR Game of the Year.
And it appears as though Twitter aggrees:
Half-Life: Alyx is available now on all Steam-compatible VR headsets for $59.99.
VR Hardware of the Year – Index by Valve
Valve had a great year and the judges of the VR Awards took notice. Not only did the company win VR Game of the Year, but they also walked away with Hardware of the Year thanks to the Valve Index. Featuring a maximum field-of-view of roughly 130-degrees, dual custom 1440×1600 LCD panels featuring full RGB subpixels, a 120Hz and experimental 144Hz refresh rate (backward compatibility with 90Hz included), and near field off-ear speakers, it’s fairly obvious why Valve walked away with the gold on this one.
Valve’s Index VR headset is available now on the Steam website for $999.00.
The Accenture VR Lifetime Achievement Award – Cher Wang, CEO and Chairwoman HTC
As a co-founder of HTC, Cher Wang’s driving force was to provide a tool for people to keep in touch with their loved ones. The company launched their first VR headset in 2016 with the HTC Vive and have since launched several iterations of the headset as well as their Vive Sync platform and Viveport apps store, all designed to keep people entertained and connected. Wang’s original commitment to HTC is the backbone of the Vive’s success.
VR Experience of the Year – The Under Presents by Tender Claws
Created by the folks at Tender Claws, The Under Presents is a multiplayer experience that brings the art of theater and VR together to create an incredible award-winning adventure. At the time of this writing users can book tickets for a one-of-a-kind virtual rendition of the The Tempest.
Click here for more information on Tender Claws and The Under Presents.
These are just a few of the winners from the 2020 VR Awards. For the complete list of the 2020 winners and finalists click here.
With the Oculus Quest 2 selling five times faster than the first Quest, and recent research showing that VR can have a positive psychological impact on users, the future looks incredibly bright for VR technology.
As for the event itself, Daniel Colaianni, AIXR CEO said, “Last night was an extraordinary celebration of the advances made in virtual reality across what has been a highly unusual twelve months. Despite the constraints that COVID-19 has presented, it is evident that innovation and progress in delivering virtual reality to all has not been hindered,” Colainni continues, “in fact it’s use has risen and been applied in an astonishing array of manners – from keeping people connected to training redeployed medical professionals to save lives.”
Throughout the evening, guests and their custom avatars participated in a fully immersive state-of-the-art VR experience complete with pre-programmed and live-streamed content. They were able to do things that normally wouldn’t be possible at a typical award ceremony in the real world.
Is this model something the Grammy’s or the Oscars could adopt? Imagine being able to walk up to your favorite musician or actor to say hello or even strike up a conversation.
VR has already changed how we work, play, socialize, and learn. Now it’s changing how we celebrate.
**It should be noted that I served as a judge for the 2020 VR Awards.**
Image Credit: VR Awards