California State University, Northridge launched its first virtual and augmented reality competition on March 3.
Students, faculty and staff members gathered together in the Ferman Presentation Room of the Delmar T. Oviatt Library for the kickoff event of Visual and Augmented Reality Jam (VARJAM), a competition where prospective students from all majors across campus work in teams to develop projects focused on a variety of concepts, from education to entertainment, using the latest virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology.
“VARJAM is going to immerse anyone involved in the competition in engaging ways to embrace any audience,” said Tom White, executive director of Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) at CSUN. “With the knowledge that they learn here, they’re going to be able to connect with any group that they ever come in contact with in a way that causes that group to think and believe in certain ways.”
Los Angeles is one of the big players in VR and AR technology, which is predicted to become a $150 billion industry by 2020. VR takes the viewer out of the real world and places them into a virtual world, while AR overlays virtual information onto the real world, said Jacob Enfield, multimedia option head and leader of the VARJAM project.
“Everybody is starting a VR company, there’s tons of them, and they’re looking for somebody to help them do what they are trying to do,” Enfield said. “We’re providing them a talent pool, if we can develop that.”
During the event, students learned about competition guidelines for submitting a two-minute multimedia presentation describing their project and how to gain access to the VARJAM Canvas site for resources or discussion boards. Students were also able to try out a small selection of VR and AR equipment firsthand.
Will Goldstein, a second-year electronic media management major, tested out the Google Tilt Brush VR game at VARJAM.
“It was crazy,” Goldstein said. “It takes you somewhere else. I think the next step is taking it from moving in a space and moving your body to taking conscious commands straight from the brain into virtual reality – that’d be really cool, just to be able to think it.”
Students and attendees also had the opportunity to meet with sponsors from the LACI@CSUN and BixelExchange. One requirement for students interested in joining the VARJAM competition was to have one member of their team attend the kickoff event.
Ed Beres, LACI director of university relations, said the winning team from VARJAM would have the opportunity to present their project to a panel of VR and AR experts and share their thoughts on the industry during an event on April 21 at the LACI headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
The VARJAM 2017 registration deadline for student teams was March 6 at 11:59 p.m.
The next event will be on March 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Extended Learning University Building. Faculty and students are encouraged to attend. Workshops will focus on training and teaching the basics of creating and editing photospheres, virtual reality, augmented reality and 360 videos as well as attend a presentation on the art of storytelling by White. Students may choose to attend any or all of the workshops to help them submit their strongest work.
For more information on registration guidelines and important dates, visit www.csun.edu/varjam