News & Events to Inspire STEAM Education

Space Meets Virtual Reality for the SoCal VR Con (July 11 – 12)

Space Meets Virtual Reality for the SoCal VR Con (July 11 – 12)

Jul 6, 2015

During the weekend of July 11th and 12th, Southern California’s very own VR conference and expo (SoCal VR) is shooting for the stars – literally.

Developers, content creators, artists, engineers, and VR enthusiasts of all types will take part in a celebration of all things virtual. At the forefront of the event is an outer worldly theme, which looks to combines space exploration and virtual reality.

It all starts the evening of July 11, 2015 in Long Beach, California with a space-themed kickoff party.

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Doors open at 7pm. Shortly after people start arriving and have their drinks in hand, a special fireside chat panel discussion begin around 7:30pm. Speakers include a couple local space experts. Of those who will be there is Jacki Morie (Founder, Chief Scientist at All These Worlds).

As her Wikipedia page states, “Jacquelyn Ford Morie is an artist, scientist and educator working in the areas of immersive worlds, games and social networks. Until 2013 she was a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute for Creative Technologies. In 2013 she started a spin-off company called All These Worlds, LLC to take her work in virtual worlds and avatars to a broader audience.

jacki morie

Jacki Morie

According to a recent Motherboard interview, “All These Worlds, is currently working on virtual reality experiences for NASA that aim to ease the social and psychological difficulties of long term space travel. At the moment, NASA’s installing an early version of All These Worlds’ simulation at the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.”

Since there’s a 40-minute delay in communication between Mars and Earth, subjects won’t be able to interact with people outside the experiment in real time, but the simulation will sync up with Earth once a day. This will allow family members to leave recordings of their avatars which the astronauts can then interact with, and leave their own recordings in response.

At the end of the summer, “a group of scientists and engineers” will participate in a year-long Mars simulation at the HI-SEAS Habitat in Hawaii. The test subjects in that experiment will use Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 to visit virtual worlds where they can visit art galleries, swim in coral reefs, and ski on a mountaintops.

Another speaker for the event is Liam Kennedy, Inventor of the ISS-Above. His device lights up and increases the flashing frequency when the ISS is nearby, allowing users to run outside and see the space station fly over in the sky above.

Liam Kennedy

Liam Kennedy

As the website for the ISS-Above describes, “the brains of the ISS-Above is a very small Single Board Computer called a Raspberry Pi. It’s like a regular computer that you have in your house – just a LOT smaller…The ISS-Above works with numerous add-ons display devices that light up / change color and/or displays information in some way.”

The project was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $17,000 – well above the orginial $5,000 goal. Now, the devices turns up a bars, parties, and events. There is even an installation in local cafe near that’s been there since November 27th 2013. Liam Kennedy has also created a new wearable option as well.

Liam Kennedy is now looking into putting 360 degree cameras in orbit and will discuss his thoughts on the powerful nature of allowing people to teleport themselves into space to look around.

Mike Murdock, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Otherworld Interactive, will also speak on the panel.  He has worked everywhere from a small, award-winning video production house to Microsoft Research (and consulting / freelancing in between) MFA from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in Interactive Media.

Mike Murdock

Mike Murdock

Murdock even helped develop the UX / UI and virtual reality designer for the Oculus Home app for Samsung GearVR while he was at Oculus. His recent project heavily revolve around space-related environments.

Now, Murdock is working on a wide variety of content at Otherworld Interactive’s. One of their early projects was Spacewalk; a exploratory virtual reality experience set in space. The viewer is an astronaut drifting around the International Space Station. Another experience named ‘GWC: Drop the Bass‘ is a lightly interactive virtual reality animation with funny spacemen who dance to intergalactic music.

Otherworld developed a classic twin stick shooter for Google Cardboard as well. Gamers become a member of the Galactic Wrecking Company (GWC) who has been called in to exterminate an immense horde of deadly, malfunctioning robots in outerspace. User get to blow them to bits while avoiding being crushed by their sheer numbers.

Starport, a two-player social experience for mobile VR, is another space-related game by Otherworld. Players get paired with a random player and join in a series of collaborative and competitive mini games – “destroy asteroids, build castles, make friends!” Mike Murdock will provide his thoughts on space and VR from a creative design perspective.

RSVP to the Kickoff Party here

 

Inside a Space Shuttle: The EndeaVR Project (July 12)

In continuation from the space-themed kickoff party, a VIP keynote will take place at the main SoCal VR event on Sunday, July 12. QGITS readers get an exclusive promo code to get them into this VIP talk.

Promo Code: vrspace

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-socal-virtual-reality-conference-expo-tickets-17219851038

The EndeaVR Project utilizes leading-edge imaging technology to film, photograph and LIDAR-scan the entire Space Shuttle Endeavour, resulting in the most comprehensive captures of a Space Shuttle interior ever assembled – the goal is to render ultra-res VR experiences by which individuals will be able to don eyewear such as the Oculus Rift, and walk or ‘fly’ through the Shuttle, able to ‘look’ anywhere, even touch surfaces and turn switches, via eventual haptic feedback gloves etc.

The EndeaVR Project

The all-volunteer project involves the most advanced capture systems available, and is being done by Academy Award-winning visual effects gurus from films such as Star Trek Into Darkness, Hugo and others with participation by executives and developers with Oculus, Samsung, RED and NASA itself.

Executive Producer David Knight will show footage derived from the VR systems capturing the first comprehensive scoping of a Space Shuttle interior ever done, and talk about the plans for the new Air & Space Center being constructed in Southern California where all of it will be utilized. He will also discuss planning for a VR camera unit to go up on the International Space Station, a first and potentially revolutionary experience for everyone on the ground.

 

Matt Terndrup – I’m a virtual reality, wearables, and technology art journalist who focuses on emerging trends in the maker, hacker, and inventor cultures. I like to travel around from place to place researching what is being made. Twitter; Linkedin

3D Systems Showcase New Innovative Products & Solutions at CES 2015

3D Systems Showcase New Innovative Products & Solutions at CES 2015

Jan 29, 2015

This year at the 2015 International CES in Las Vegas 3D Systems brought in a gamut of new technologies. They showcased its entire consumer and prosumer 3D printing capabilities from new hardware and software developments in desktop full-color 3D printing, 3D printing food, wearables, software for design and virtual reality-related devices. We interviewed key team members involved at 3D Systems: Leanne Gluck, Director of Social Impact; Liz Von Hasseln, Creative Director of Food Products and Josh St. John, Director of User Experience – to see what they were working on at CES.

Ekocycle – The 3D Printer that uses Recycled Plastic

This innovative 3D printer from 3D Systems came together through a partnership with pop music mogul icon will.i.am and The Coca-Cola Company. As the Ekocycle websites states, this printer was created “to inspire new things made in part from recycled materials. Our shared ambition is to motivate brands and people like you to join us on our quest to make more sustainable living cool.”

Innovation Lounge: Demoing Virtual Reality at Garden Grove Library

Innovation Lounge: Demoing Virtual Reality at Garden Grove Library

Dec 2, 2014

Recently we organized a virtual reality demonstration at an Orange County Library which resulted in some spectacular reactions. Previously, Qgits has hosted web development, 3D printing workshops at this library as well as giving students a hands on look at remote controlled drones. Now, it was finally time to show them what VR could do as we continued our recurring Innovation Lounge series.

See also: Flying Quadcopters with High School Students at Garden Grove Library

We choose Garden Grove library because we wanted to start introducing the exciting concepts of virtual reality to people who were already immersed within a world of education. This particular location was directly across the street from an Orange County high school meaning that kids were studying there on a daily basis.

Since virtual reality naturally allows for people to depict stories, the idea that VR would be regularly used in libraries in the future was something that we wanted to spark. These people were surrounded by books already, it only made sense to introduce them to something that would give them the ability to jump into a world and explore a story like no other.

The SoCal MakerCon Photo Roundup

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On Nov 8, 2014, what was being called “the largest event celebrating inventiveness, innovation and ideas in Southern California” was held at the Los Angeles Fairplex building in Pomona, CA where a couple thousand people interested in the world of making showed up.

While we were at the event, we took a whole bunch of photos to document the growing maker movement as it flourished right before our very eyes. Embedded below is some of our favorites:

Let the Robot Battles Begin!

Mounds and mounds of electronics parts spread throughout the exhibitor booths where robots were created. Some battled each other in a clear box as crowds of enthusiastic people cheered nearby. Others flew into the air of the conference while eager individuals waited to control it on their own. Practically wherever one would look there would be some form of an electronically rigged robot.

3D Printers, 3D Printers Everywhere

A major theme that was seen at the SoCal MakerCon was a growing 3D printer trend. Companies were manufacturing their own custom 3D printers, providing 3D printing services and classes in a community makerspace or hackerspace and also distributors of 3d printers and supplies. 3D printing companies were printing items on the fly throughout the event for everyone to see and learn more about 3d printing. The amount of printers was a good sign the market is starting to proliferate causing the competition to go up and the consumer prices to go down. There were a lot of cool 3D printing companies to check out like Deezmaker, CoKreeate, Airwolf, Triaxisart, Purple Platypus, AIO Robotics, Vocademy, Urban Workshop, Factory Enova, Creatorspace, UMakers, MAKEiT 3D and OC Makerspace.

See also: Flashforge Easy-to-Use Desktop 3D Printers at SoCal MakerCon

More to see: OC’s MatterHackers 3D Printing Shop at SoCal MakerCon

STEAM Carnival Recap: Inspiring Young Inventors of the Future

STEAM Carnival Recap: Inspiring Young Inventors of the Future

Nov 15, 2014

The entertainment engineering company known as Two Bit Circus threw a ‘Carnival of the Future’ mid October 2014 and sparked a fire of innovation that surged into an exciting environment of gizmos, gadgets, education, and STEAM. It was flooded with immersive amusement experiences that dazzled the crowds of thousands of people that attended. The beginning of the festivities started on Wednesday when a creative black tie Gala was held at a pristine building known as Crafted at the Port of LA. Food was served as business owners and government officials got a chance to try out the games before the event opened up on Saturday. See also: STEAM Gala Preview for Upcoming STEAM Carnival for Kids

On Thursday, software developers from all over showed up for a morning hackathon. The goal was to make something useful utilizing the IBM Bluemix platform. Although coding was accomplished, the focus tended to stray primarily over to  where the Two Bit Circus team was building. The STEAM Carnival carnies were setting up the remaining experiences as programming in the other room went on.

At the end of the day, more community members from from the surrounding areas streamed in as the open bar started serving drinks. Hardware hackers made a strong presence as a few were spotted in the crowd. An online open source hardware blog called Hackaday had a few of their employees drop in later that night to help document what was being marketed as a Hacker Preview Day. Their Community Manager Jasmine Brackett led the way as writer and programmer Ben Delarre tested out the games first hand. His report along with spectacular photos taken by Eren Kanal surfaced a couple days later on the Hackaday blog which showed a handful of the games that Two Bit Circus had made.

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One of the guys that runs the industrial hackerspace 23b in Fullerton showed up a little bit before that to check out what was happening. Anil Pattni, who helps setup events for a local open source meetup known as OC Hackerz, was at the Hacker Day Preview too.

It was nice to engage with people interested in hardware mechanics and engineering that night. All the games there were handmade by the Two Bit Circus team in their warehouse workshop. Out of all the people there, the hardware hackers knew exactly what they were looking. They could dissect the games without having to literally open it apart because they work with similar electronics on a regular basis. Granted, all these experiences at the STEAM Carnival were completely unique, but boiled down they all shared a foundation with open source electronics that of course hackers love to use.

The following day was the Student Preview Day where kids had the opportunity to play with the games. They also made their own with Makey Makey kits during the day.