Top 10 Virtual Reality Experts in the World
Virtual reality, or VR, is quite the buzzword in technology circles, however, it's not a new concept. In fact, the idea has been present for a few decades, with the first VR devices dating back to the 1950s.
But, even before then, we can find examples of VR in many 360 degree paintings that aimed to fill the viewer's entire field of vision and give them the illusion of being present in or at whatever scene the painting depicted.
Nowadays, most people associate VR with Oculus Rift, one of the most popular virtual reality systems that allows you to immerse yourself fully inside virtual worlds.
So what is virtual reality? How can it be used? And who are the people shaping its future?
What is Virtual Reality?
Virtual Reality uses computer technology to create a simulated world that allows users to interact with it by putting on a head-mounted display and some form of input tracking. The display can create a 3D simulation of a world that doesn’t exist, like in video games, or it can create a simulation of actual places.
You could use the display to tour the Louvre, visit the Grand Canyon or climb Mount Everest without ever leaving the comfort of your living room.
How Can Virtual Reality Be Used?
Video games are one of the main applications for VR today, but it can also be used in education, health, sports, science, telecommunications, military, and film. From being able to build a real home with virtual tools to taking a school field trip to see the pyramids in Egypt to performing open-heart surgery, virtual technology has a bright future ahead.
With many devices finally ready for launch, pretty soon you will be able to experience it for yourself. Companies like Samsung, Sony, Google, Oculus, and even HTC are all associated with VR.
Top 10 Virtual Reality Experts
If you want to learn more about virtual reality and its diverse application, then our list of top VR experts will be a real treat for you. From tech journalists, developers, enthusiasts, to authors, keynote speakers, and digital health influencers, this rich mix of experts contains the people to follow for anything related to VR.
James Blaha owes his place as an expert in the VR field to his medical condition. He grew up with lazy eye syndrome and decided to try and improve his own vision. As he was building the first version of Vivid Vision for amblyopia, he gained vision in his other eye and decided to start his own company.
Vivid Vision now specializes in using virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift to treat amblyopia, strabismus, and convergence disorders. Their mission is to empower eye doctors with powerful vision care tools by building a vision care platform that works with new VR technology.
Blaha believes that VR will mostly influence the health, communication, and education industries. According to him, VR can be used to control the visual and auditory input to the brain as well as stimulate empathy and teach complex concepts.
As the CEO and founder of Wemersive, Broo helps brands use VR for marketing purposes and specializes in 360 VR video software solutions for mobile devices and web as well as developing future immersive tech.
His career started out in music but after years of working with major record labels, he switched to the technology field. His first position was for an app development company that created one of the first VR mobile players in 2010. Two years later, he founded Wemersive which has powered some of the greatest mobile VR experiences on the market.
Broo believes that VR can be used not only for journalism and raising brand awareness through mobile apps but to take action for social good.
Follow Broo on Twitter.
Bye is best known for his podcast Voices of VR. His background as a VR developer helps him shed a technological perspective on VR while sharing his passion to discover new and creative applications for VR technology.
Since May 2014, he has traveled to numerous VR gatherings and events around the world, in the hopes of sharing a broad range of VR perspectives and insights. His podcast features over 130 episodes and he wants to take it to the next level by publishing an episode every weekday.
In the meantime, Bye is actively working on his upcoming book, "The Ultimate Potential of VR." The book will cover the best answers he has gotten to date on the question he always ends his podcast with: "What do you think the ultimate potential of virtual reality is?"
Bye believes VR is going to change our lives for the better and impact every industry out there by bringing us from the Information Age to a new era where creativity and imagination will be used to their full potential.
He is also the founder of the Portland VR Meetup and has created a number of online virtual reality competitions.
Aside from making VR, Chennavasin mentors and funds VR companies. His love affair with virtual reality began after he accidentally cured himself of his real life fear of heights while developing in VR.
He has extensive experience in both interactive virtual and augmented reality and 360 video. He works as a general partner for The Venture Reality Fund and his mission is to help VR and AR focused entrepreneurs get the funds they need to bring their VR technology to market faster.
Driven by his own experience, Chennavasin strongly believes that virtual reality has life-changing powers and wants to see this medium explored to its maximum potential.
Follow him on Twitter.
Linda Jacobson is a marketing expert, journalist, and event producer with a wealth of technological experience.
She is also the co-founding editor of Wired magazine. Today, she works as an advisor to startups using marketing strategies to launch tech solutions for problems associated with aging.
What makes her worthy of attention in the VR field is the fact that she performed as a virtual human during the early 90s using 3D input devices on live stage. On top of that, she co-founded the Bay Area's first virtual reality meetup group and authored several books.
In 1992, she published a book called CyberArts: Exploring Arts and Technology, which became a textbook for colleges using computers in art and entertainment.
Her later book called Garage Virtual Reality showed ordinary people how to build virtual experiences in their garages.
Nonny de la Peña
Nicknamed as the "godmother of virtual reality" de la Peña made strides in the VR field with her immersive journalism. One of her best-known works includes an immersive reality movie Hunger in LA, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
The movie shows an actual event that occurred in a food-bank line where a man suddenly collapses into a diabetic seizure due to hunger. Those wearing a VR headset can witness the event as if they are actually there and many reported frustration of not being able to help the man.
De la Peña is the founder of Emblematic Group, a team of award-winning filmmakers, journalists, designers, and game developers who create fully immersive environments that put users directly inside the scene and allow them to interact with the story.
She believes VR can be used to generate a sense of empathy as well as to document important stories and entertainment pieces alike.
Jesse Schnell is a video game designer, author, CEO of Schnell Games, and Distinguished Professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a Masters Degree in Computer Science and Virtual Reality which allowed him to work for prominent companies like Bell Labs and Walt Disney Imagineering.
His work in the VR field is based on creating transformational games with his company. He believes that those games change people for the better, as they are designed to have a positive impact on one’s habits through fun game experiences.
His games range from educational to location-based to virtual reality games aimed at children and young teens.
Schnell's book, The Art of Game Design challenges the game developers to view their game from as many perspectives as possible, including psychological, architectural, and anthropological.
In his own words, Robert Scoble "gives you a front-row seat on the future." As a blogger, technical evangelist, and an author, he is passionate about showing others the benefits of VR and focuses mostly on mixed reality or "next-generation augmented reality" which includes drones, driverless cars, robots, and more.
Scoble has worked for companies like Microsoft, Fast Company, and RackSpace until 2014 when he joined the team at UploadVR. As their resident entrepreneur, he develops new shows and events, and connects other startups focused on virtual reality.
He hosts a podcast on everything AR (augmented reality) and VR related, covering the latest news, product launches, and prominent guests in the field of virtual reality.
His latest book, The Fourth Transformation makes a convincing case that our world is on the edge of new media, one where language will be irrelevant and reality and technology will be so intertwined that it will be near impossible to distinguish one from another.
Scoble believes we are living in an exciting time of discovery as we’re just starting to get our first headsets and trying out our first games.
Helen Situ is a VR evangelist who uprooted her life for virtual reality. She currently works for NextVR and writes regularly on Virtual Reality Pop, a blog covering all things VR, AR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Gear VR, and more.
If someone decides to change their entire life in favor of a new technology, you know it's going to be big — and Helen certainly believes so. To her, virtual reality is one of the most intimate ways to share and experience the world. She equates it to a kind of teleportation.
The company she works for has built the only platform that can deliver live events in virtual reality.
She is passionate about educating the public on all things VR related and continuing her work at NextVR to get people closer to the events they love.
Brennan M Spiegel
As the director of Cedars-Sinai Health Services Research, Spiegel is passionate about using VR not only to help improve the bond between patients and doctors, but to use the technology to improve outcomes, and save money.
A notable use of virtual reality on his part is the use of VR goggles to tackle pain control. According to his research, 20 minutes with the virtual-reality software reduced patients' pain by 24% on average, a result similar to giving patients narcotics to manage their pain.
His research team is also responsible for developing a computer algorithm that documents "red flag" symptoms among patients with gastrointestinal disorders. Given his results, Spiegel believes that computer and VR technology can help doctors take better care of their patients.
Find out more about him and his research on Twitter and Cedars-Sinai Center for Outcomes Research and Education (CS-CORE).
Virtual Reality Is the Next Big Thing
At one point in time, VR was nothing more than an idea. But technology has progressed, and the future of virtual reality is now. As our roundup suggests, the applications for its use are many and the technology for it is becoming readily available. Follow the experts above to familiarize yourself with VR and get inspired. Who knows? You might come up with your own, new idea on how to use virtual reality to improve our everyday lives.
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