SIGGRAPH Asia 2013 Spotlights Virtual and Augmented Reality

SIGGRAPH Asia 2013 wraps up with an emphasis on virtual and augmented reality; highlights include interactive technologies and education through animation, as well as the latest technologies. 

Hong Kong -- Last week, the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) was transformed into a hub of digital innovation as leading computer graphics and interactive techniques pioneers convened for SIGGRAPH Asia 2013. Now in its sixth year, the event, which attracted more than 6,000 industry professionals, researchers, artists, developers and enthusiasts from 60 countries, including guest of honor Susie Ho Shuk-yee, the Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development (Communications & Technology) from the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, and with the help of CreateHK, has established itself as Asia’s premier conference and exhibition of its kind.

Showing that it is possible to both comprehend the importance of and complement the perpetual advancements of the industry, the SIGGRAPH Asia conference featured Keynote Speakers, Courses and other programs led by some of the most pioneering figures of the ever-evolving industry, including Thad Starner, the Technical Lead of Google Glass and true trailblazer of AR; founder of the online virtual world Second Life and co-founder of High Fidelity, Philip Rosedale; Pixar Animation Studios’ Supervising Technical Director, Daniel McCoy; Academy Award-winning animator, John Kahrs; and Peter Muyzers, Image Engine’s Visual Effects Supervisor.

See things differently as the industry moves further towards VR and AR

As the industry continues along the trajectory that places more and more emphasis on AR and VR, as well as interactive techniques, so too did the dialogue sparked at SIGGRAPH Asia follow this path.

Keynote speakers Starner, in his talk Wearable Computing: Through the Looking Glass, and Rosedale in The Revenge of Virtual Reality, each explored topics of AR and VR respectively, looking into the future of wearable technology and the increasingly symbiotic relationship between humans and technology. Attendees were given rare insight into the forthcoming developments from both speakers’ companies, including demonstrations of as-yet-unreleased technology and previews of exciting projects.

Starner elaborated on the subject, saying “Wearable computing is now a part of everyday life. Bluetooth headsets, iPods, and smart phones are commonly worn in public and have much of the functionality demonstrated by early researchers in the field. Google's Project Glass, which has sparked the public's imagination, leverages experience from academia to enable compelling new lifestyles. Wearable computing will continue to enable users in new and exciting ways and it was a great pleasure to be invited to share my experience in AR advancements at SIGGRAPH Asia 2013.”

The integration of AR into everyday existence was also illustrated through The Virtuale Exhibition, curated by Arthur Clay from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, a collection of installations that were instated in various public spaces around Hong Kong and that could be both viewed and interacted with via AR apps.

Explore the ways that interactive technologies can improve our lives

SIGGRAPH Asia 2013 gave attendees the opportunity to explore the various ways that technology plays an increasingly vital role in our daily lives. Emerging Technologies Director Yoshifumi Kitamura commented, “Interactive technology has a genuine impact on the way that we live our lives and the ever increasing sophistication and profundity of graphics and interactivity means that it will serve to enhance them. The Emerging Technologies program delved further into this than ever before this year, showcasing numerous apps and technical innovations that may one day be part of our everyday existence.”

This year’s Symposium on Mobile Graphics and Interactive Applications also delved into the world of interactivity in the realm of ever-improving mobile graphics, highlighting the way that novel uses of graphics can both entertain and educate; key aims of SIGGRAPH Asia.

Educating through animation

With a stronger focus than ever before, SIGGRAPH Asia offered attendees the opportunity to learn from leading industry professionals, allowing for a more hands on learning experience. Award-winning animators led full-day training sessions that explored the place and the nature of visual storytelling in today’s technologically advanced climate and what it is to be an animator in the 21st century. The Industry Master Classes were supported by a comprehensive Courses program that saw both industry experts and key individuals from academia share their knowledge on a wide range of subjects.

Industry frontrunners showcased their latest innovations

The SIGGRAPH Asia 2013 Exhibition played host to a plethora of top brands and creative talents presenting the latest developments in hardware, software and services from all over the world. Renowned names in hardware, such as CHRISTIE, Intel and Stratasys, as well as some of the most recognized software firms, including Autodesk, Chaos Group, Side Effects Software and Techviz were all represented. Local industry leaders were also present as part of the Hong Kong CG Pavilion, hosted by the Hong Kong ACM SIGGRAPH Professional Chapter and supported by CreateHK. 26 home-grown companies and 6 local tertiary institutions participated, showcasing the latest creative products and services that Hong Kong has to offer. These included Post Production Office, Menfond, Cherrypicks, Digital Magic and more.

Some of the many highlights from the exhibition floor included:

  • CHRISTIE, one of the most innovative visual technology companies in the world, launched their new products, the Christie Mirage 4K25 and Christie Mirage 4K35 projectors for 3D applications. Anchored by the new Christie TruLife electronics platform, the projectors offer advances visualization in automotive, location-based entertainment, government, military, oil, gas and more.
  • Side Effects Software presented its new Houdini Technology, Houdini Engine, which allows for deep integration of Houdini technology into a wide variety of digital content creation apps, including Autodesk, Maya and the Unity game engine.
  • Stratasys explored the growing popularity of 3D printing and the ways that it allows people to unleash their creativity. As part of the Exhibitor Talks section, Jonathan Jaglom, General Manager in Asia Pacific and Japan of Stratasys, shared insights into the trends of 3D printing in areas of mass customization and direct digital marketing, demonstrating how Stratasys was helping to drive innovation and business value across the region.

The future of SIGGRAPH Asia
Following the continued success of SIGGRAPH Asia, Baoquan Chen, Professor and Dean, Shandong University and Chief Scientist, Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology as well as the 2014 Conference Chair shared his plans for the coming year’s event which will move from Hong Kong to Shenzhen and be held from 3 to 6 December at the Shenzhen Conference & Exhibition Center. He said, “I am thrilled to announce that next year’s SIGGRAPH Asia will be entering China after two successful editions in 2011 and 2013 in Hong Kong. We hope that the move will further establish China as an international nucleus of computer graphics and interactive techniques. As the industry advances and progresses ever-further, it is important that SIGGRAPH Asia carries on bridging the gaps between art, science, education, technology and research, both internationally and on a more local scale, and I believe that China could be the perfect platform for this perpetually expanding market.”

Source: SIGGRAPH Asia 2013

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