If you made it with us from the first keynote to the end of the AWE USA Official After Party at the Corinthian Grand Ballrooom, congrats--you are a champ! In addition to a packed program, the Expo Hall and Playground opened on Thursday. Attendees were lining up to get inside, where there were tons of demos to try and - upstairs - the Eyewear Museum (see Joanna Popper's live tour via Twitter). There were also fast-paced startup pitches; workshops led by Circuit Stream on developing for Magic Leap, HTC Vive eye tracking, and more; Happy Hour sponsored by Adobe right inside the Playground; and the 10th annual Auggie Awards Ceremony.
The day began with three stellar back-to-back keynote presentations in the Mission City Ballroom. Stefano Corazza (Adobe) introduced Project Aero: "Until recently you had to be a developer to create an AR/VR experience...we are developing a new paradigm to open these opportunities to more people." Industry veterans Tony Parisi (Unity) and Sean White (Mozilla) then sat down for a fireside chat on the past, present and future of the 3D web; and Chi Xu (nreal) announced that the consumer version of the nreal light smart glasses will arrive "early 2020" for an affordable $499!
The Startup Track opened on Thursday, as well: Among the track sessions were two expert panels on investing in AR and the habits of successful startups; and a discussion on owning augmented space, in which Brian Wassom explained his client Candy Lab AR's lawsuit against Milkwaukee County which established that Pokemon Go is protected speech. Darran Milne kicked off the Day 2 XR Enablement track with a refreshing presentation on the future of AR display and VividQ's 3D holographic technology; followed by Daryl Sartain (AMD) on enabling XR today, industry vet Steve Feiner on collaborating in XR, and Jian Liang describing real AR applications for industry in China.
On the Main Stage, Jon Pershke announced Lenovo's ThinkReality AR headset; Dirk Schart (RE'FLEKT) joined Kim Fenrich (ABB) to share what they learned from building AR solutions for ABB's Collaborative Operations Centers; and Hugo Swart (Qualcomm) gave an inspiring speech about 5G, AI and XR coming together. Addressing developers, Timoni West (Unity) advocated for humanizing computers and Philipp Nagele (Wikitude) talked about scanning 3D objects on mobile. We heard about real case studies in enterprise AR from Sanjay Jhawar (RealWear), followed by a panel on the Impacts and Trends of XR, ML and AI on Industry moderated by Kathy Grise (IEEE Future Directions). In Gaming & Entertainment, Jennifer Cook showed candid customer reactions to Dreamscape Immersive's location-based VR experiences and Adam Bruce (VRLab) told listeners how to operate a successful location-based VR business.
Before lunch, Paul Hake (HitPoint) talked about "when AR meets TV" with Alexa Hook and Daniel Leary from The Ellen DeGeneres Show; Russ Fadel (Augmentir) told enterprises "the combination of augmented procedures, AI, and the consumerization of software will revolutionize the entire spectrum of manufacturing organizations;" and Chloe Doyeon Kim spoke about the future of the MAXST platform.
The Startup Track picked up again in the afternoon with pitches by PlugXR, Merxius, BadVR, wiARframe, ZEG, Spatial First, LexSet.ai, and Vyking. In the Develop room, Steven Patterson (Grassroots Developer Education) discussed crowdsourcing new XR ideas, Tony Tomarchio (8th Wall) talked about building Web AR experiences, and Luke Peterson and Sturgis Adams (Geenee) argued that Web AR is here. Nils Berger (Viewpointsystem) told enterprises that the interface of the future is no interface; Philippe Moravie (AMA Xpert Eye) and Peter Verstraeten (Proceedix) described a shared vision for smart operators; Erwan Donat (RE'FLEKT) showed how to create an industrial AR application in just 15 minutes; and Luis Bollinger (Holo-Light) spoke about remote rendering.
In XR Enablement, Eugene Panich (Almalence) talked about boosting optical performance of XR HMDs; attendees got their hands into XR with Varag Gharibjanian (Clay Air); Hai Yan (7Invensun) explored eye tracking with 5G; and Antii Sunnari (Dispelix) spoke about full-color, single-waveguide near-eye displays. We heard that persistence - a reason to come back more than once - is what's missing from LBE during a panel on interactive vs. narrative storytelling featuring Maureen Fan (Baobab Studios), Ted Schilowitz (Paramount), Ryan Bell (NASA) and others. Following that panel on the Gaming track, Armando Kirwin (Artie) talked intelligent avatars and Eve Weston (Exelauno) introduced a taxonomy for POV in VR. And, on the Main Stage, Scott Montgomerie (Scope AR) addressed the fear of robots in the workforce; Phil LaFond (Bosch) discussed AR for technical training; Nick Cherukyri shared a roadmap for ThirdEye Gen AR glasses; and Ramses Alcaide (Neurable) gave a "mindblowing talk" on recording brain activity for a connected future.
Closing out the day were startup pitches from FundamentalVR, TogethAR, OVA, Immersal, echoAR, SyncThink, Flow Immersive, Sixdof Space, and PlelQ Smart Toys; followed by networking between founders and investors. Attendees heard about ultra-immersive gaming and entertainment and the future of live experiences, and took in a panel on the ethical landscape of XR entertainment presented by Virtual World Society, with idol Brenda Laurel (Neogaian Interactive), Samantha Gorman (Tender Claws) and others. On the Main Stage, Charlie Fink (Forbes) and Kevin Kelly (WIRED) explored the construction of the Mirrorworld and who owns it; Matt Miesnieks (6D.ai) talked about the OS for reality; and Tom Emrich (Super Ventures) led a thought-provoking panel on the impact avatars and filters have on identity with Faye Maidment (Facemoji), Jasmine Roberts (Google) and Mahesh Ramasubramanian (Loom.ai).
In XR Enablement, Chris Pickett (DigiLens) shared what it takes to survive in the market; Victor Sun (Shadow Creator) talked going from headset to glasses; Sabrina Kemeny (Tap Systems) - inventor of the 'camera on a chip' - recalled the initial reaction to her technology; and Mark Billinghurst shared his fascinating research on using XR for brain synchronization. Enterprises heard about empowering life science teams with AR and AI from Angelo Stracquatanio (Apprentice), saw Vincent Williams (Southern Co.) control his Power Point presentation with a RealWear AR headset, learned about immersive tech for adaptable architecture from the Arrowstreet team and about XR apps in automotive and AEC from Dan Miller (Unity). And on the Develop track, Zhihao Zhao and Wei Lv gave an exclusive run through of nreal's SDK.
The immersion and interaction kept going inside the AWE Playground for Happy Hour sponsored by Adobe, followed by the 10th Annual Auggie Awards - see who won here - and the AWE USA 2019 Official After Party at the Corinthian Grand Ballroom. Lastly, here are some impressions and moments from AWE attendees on the Expo Floor:
"Today was an awesome day. I tried the @varjodotcom headset. It was AMAZING. Afterwards, I walked by the #ARGear booth and apparently the Varjo had turned me into a #superhero!!" - @sonyahaskins
"Have to say that the @ultrahaptics booth in the #AWE2019 playground was really cool. I could feel the lightning bolts from the display and experienced 4D in the Crystal Cave. I could feel water pouring over my hand without the use of a glove." - @SomediaCSO
"The AR-enabled book from @AnomalyWorld is by far the coolest thing I have ever brought back from a conference. #AWE2019" - @carriefarmer
"Checking out the latest innovations in AR, VR & MR at @ARealityEvent: lightweight AR glasses, masks for firement & AR ski goggles #AWE2019" - @UniSAVentures