Ryan Andal, Technical Director, Partner, Secret Location; Keram Malicki-Sánchez, Executive Director, VRTO; and David Nalasco, Senior Technology Manager – Graphics, Radeon Technology Group at AMD, sit together to discuss Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) at the Techweek Toronto Summit 2016. This panel was moderated by Alan Smithson, co-founder and CEO of MetaVRse.

VR is progressing from its nascent stage and can be simply defined as “completely virtualizing what you are looking at.” Unlike VR, AR means “augmenting what you are looking at” and is an integration of digital information with a user’s real environment. In the future, there may be a complete merging of AR and VR creating a ‘Mixed Reality’ where physical and virtual objects can co-exist in real-time.

Some of our key takeaways from the conversation:

  1. VR is Progressing and Developing on Pre-existing Technologies:
    Individuals are getting used to VR as a concept now and consumer interest in VR is increasing. The main reason being, VR has been developing from pre-existing technologies which were earlier considered as expensive high-end products. VR now is focusing on low-cost solutions to ease the lives of users. For instance, the VR company Oculus has introduced the Oculus Rift headset, which is made from “off-the-shelf components.”
  2. VR is Addictive, Powerful, and Dangerous:
    Keram is quite optimistic about VR, provided it is steered in the right direction. VR allows individuals to experience something which is way beyond their cognitive biases and neurological functions. A case in point is Pokémon Go, the free-to-play reality game that outperforms Twitter every week since its launch.
  3. Loads of Investments Going into VR and AR Fields:
    Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 with a whopping cash deal of $2 billion. Google has a $15 headset made of cardboard called Google Cardboard, which is designed specifically for using VR apps on Android smartphones. Microsoft has developed a holographic processing unit, or HPU, which enables users to view beyond the screens. Each of these companies is looking forward to VR and AR as platforms wherein they can share new technologies, use new hardware, and customize units as per the users’ requirements.
  4. VR Entails a Wide Range of Protocols to Maintain and Businesses Need to Navigate Through it Via Software Platforms:
    Code of Ethics for Human Augmentation, headed by Steve Mann, the chief scientist for Meta and general chair of the IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society controls certain technical standards of VR and AR in general. VR ideas and its distribution primarily depend on video games platform. This platform is based on open-source software which allows configuration and operation of hundreds of VR/AR devices together.
  5. A Few Industries that Will See VR Implementation in 2017:
    Education, tele-robotics, drones, and travel.
  6. Emergence of ‘Mixed Reality’ which is Shaping the Future of the Reality Business:
    In the future, there needs to be a seamless swap from AR to VR which will eventually create a world of ‘Mixed Reality’ that merges the real and virtual world to produce new environments.

Below are some of the key points and moments from the conversation:

  • 0:01 – Moderator Alan Smithson thanked Techweek for inviting their panel to discuss on AR and VR
  • 2:42 – The current stage of VR is progressive
  • 6:51 – The VR ecosystem is based on content development and hardware usage with protocol maintenance
  • 16:13 – Investments in VR seem to be extensive; there will be a PlayStation launch by the end of the year
  • 21:56 – VR ideas and distribution is based on video game platforms and open source software
  • 32:21 – New areas where VR can approach in 2017 will create loads of new gadgets
  • 41:57 – The panel members shared their views on AR players available in Canada
  • 47:04 – As the marketing space for AR/VR is expanding, it’s beneficial to gain more knowledge by participating in VRTO meetups and visiting sites like voicesofvr.com


Technical Director, Partner, Secret Location
Executive Director at VRTO
Senior Technology Manager for Graphics at AMD