Virtual reality (VR) is set to become a mainstream technology next year as Oculus and Sony release their consumer VR headsets in Q1 2016. The North East is well placed to cash in on its strength in this exciting immersive technology.
At the heart of VR innovation is a rapidly expanding cluster of tech companies in the North East, working on everything from virtual showrooms for world renowned car makers to awe inspiring documentary content, immersive games and sub-sea training.
VRTGO Laboratories in Gateshead, is a dedicated virtual reality business cluster, created to bring together a growing number of researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses working in the sector. Backed by Gateshead Council, the VRTGO Laboratories cluster has set itself the goal of ensuring that Gateshead remains at the centre of the VR revolution. Working with leading games and serious VR technologists as well as buyers the centre aims to be a central focal point for VR.
This cluster was born as a result of Britain’s first VR conference and expo, VRTGO, held locally and delivered by specialist digital consultancy Secret Sauce, in September 2014. This international VR event is set to return on 12th November. (www.vrtgo.co.uk )
VRTGO conference director, Carri Cunliffe, said: “There is no better place to locate if you are a VR company. The region is home to innovators working in both entertainment and serious applications for big brands. VRTGO Laboratories and the VRTGO conference will attract leading buyers to the region and encourage university research. We are also hosting a free VR demo day on 10th September for anyone who is interested in seeing how VR solutions can improve their business – sign up today https://vrtgodemoday.eventbrite.co.uk.”
Global leaders Oculus and digital studios like Atomhawk Design, CCP, ZeroLight, Vector76 and HammerheadVR all delivered presentations at the VRTGO conference and it rapidly became clear that companies in Gateshead and the North East were playing an increasing role in exploring the exciting opportunities of VR.
Cutting edge technology and visualisation firm ZeroLight is among them. Jason Collins from ZeroLight said: “There is a key role for VR to play in creating commercial consumer experiences as well as in fields such as training and design. We’re looking forward to sharing some of our learning about design and building compelling VR experiences with other companies and being part of this growing community.”
Other important sectors in the North East such as the automotive and offshore industries show great potential for commercial VR uses, as well as huge consumer potential, and Gateshead Council is confident that the cluster will lead to extra highly skilled jobs in the region.
The future of everything from video games to sub-sea exploration could be set to change during 2015 as virtual reality technology takes hold. VR is moving ahead at a lightning pace.
Gateshead Council’s technology sector specialist, Marissa Brindley said: “The potential of VR technology is phenomenal. VRTGO Laboratories is ensuring that the North East is in the right place at the right time to take advantage of the revolution that looks set to take place.
“The facilities, expertise and support that are available here are second to none in the sector; businesses are already really feeling the benefit of being a part of VRTGO Laboratories. It’s impossible to predict the future but it’s clear to see just how exciting and important the developments we’re seeing in Gateshead could be.”