Extended Reality at Berkeley hosts annual virtual reality convention

Leo Tang/Staff

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Extended Reality at Berkeley held its annual virtual reality experience convention Sunday, with multiple virtual reality companies showcasing their work and allowing the public to share the experience.

Anna Brewer, campus senior and president of Extended Reality at Berkeley, said while this event is annual, it took about four months to plan. The convention was held in the Pauley Ballroom in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, where the public was able to interact with VR companies and hear Jack McCauley, keynote speaker and Oculus co-founder, at the end of the event.

Brewer said the club hopes this event can bridge the VR experience with the UC Berkeley community.

“Its part of our mission to bring VR and (augmented reality) to the community and Berkeley, and beyond — and this is a really great way to do that,” Brewer said. “Its super, super fun seeing people experience it. It gives you warm fuzzy feelings inside to share this awesome technology with everybody.”

About 20 different VR companies were in attendance, including VIVE and Supermedium among others, showcasing many different technologies such as CRISPR VR. Attendees were able to speak with entrepreneurs, as well as put on headsets and hand consoles while games were displayed on flat-screen TVs, so attendees could experience the VRs themselves. Games ranged from interior design to more simulating scenarios, such as laser games.

Melody Mao, a campus graduate student, said she decided to come to the convention to gain some “concrete” experience with VR and augmented reality, as she is currently taking a class on the topic.

Brewer added that she has recently seen different applications of VR to biology and other fields, which made her want to experience VR firsthand.

Campus junior Kevin Zhang praised the accessibility of the VR experience at the convention.

“It makes VR demos accessible to people because this stuff is pretty expensive — you’re not just gonna buy a headset and try it out in your house,” Zhang said.

Berkeley resident Fill Geurman stressed the importance of the VR community, especially because of how small it is to begin with. He also explained that opportunities to experience VR are very scarce, but meeting people and seeing what Extended Reality at Berkeley does is “comforting.”

Brewer explained that no matter what you are interested in, VR touches upon every single field.

“Whatever it is, it’s going to be changed by immersive technology,” Brewer said. “The potential to collaborate with people in a shared virtual space … for work or for play is just a really powerful thing.”

Contact Audry Jeong at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @audryjng_dc.