After making history in its first year, Merging Realities returns for an encore. The world’s first conference about virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) to be held entirely in VR was hosted by Lethbridge College in April 2018. This year, Merging Realities is back on Thursday, April 25.
In its second year, Merging Realities has expanded to be co-hosted by Lethbridge College, Centennial College in Toronto and the VR/AR Associations of Alberta and Ontario. Participants can take part in-person at either college, or online anywhere in the world. Last year, participants from 84 cities in 16 countries on five continents tuned into the conference.
“We had a great turnout last year both locally and virtually, and this year we’re excited to grow to include our partners in Ontario to offer a second in-person event in Toronto,” says Allyson Cikor, Multimedia Production instructor. “Several VR/AR businesses from Alberta will also be showcasing their work at the event, and we invite everyone to come and see how the industry is growing not only globally, but right here in our backyard.”
This year’s Merging Realities conference is completely free and will explore education, training and collaboration using virtual and augmented reality technologies. Topics will include the benefits of VR for information recall and understanding how AR can increase student engagement.
A wide range of industry experts will speak in interactive VR sessions. The keynote speaker will be Alan Smithson, CEO and co-founder of MetaVRse, North America’s leading VR/AR consulting and product development firm. Lethbridge College’s own Michael McCready, an instructor in the college’s newly announced Virtual and Augmented Reality certificate program, will present a session on education and the fundamentals of VR/AR.
“We are learning much more about the ties between education and virtual reality,” says Michael McCready, VR/AR and Multimedia Production instructor. “A recent study says people more easily recall information when taught in virtual reality, and augmented reality is also valuable to the learning process as it increases student engagement. Information like this is why we wanted to focus on education at this year’s conference.”
Students in Lethbridge College’s Multimedia Production program will produce the conference, with support from faculty members in the School of Media and Design.
Lethbridge College is a leader in the VR/AR field, integrating the technology into its Multimedia Production, Digital Communications and Media, Interior Design Technology and Wind Turbine Technician programs. The college has also announced two new programs that will focus heavily on VR/AR Technology – the VR/AR certificate program and the Architectural Animation Technology diploma program – that will both launch in Fall 2019.
“Lethbridge College’s involvement in Virtual and Augmented Reality is phenomenal,” says Kris Hodgson-Bright, chair of the School of Media and Design. “There is so much curriculum development going on in this space on our campus, it’s an exciting hub of activity. Merging Realities is an excellent opportunity for us to share that great excitement with the community and we hope everyone can come and check out some immersive experiences.”
Merging Realities begins at 8:30 a.m. MDT with closing remarks scheduled for 1:30 p.m. A trade show on the Lethbridge College campus takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration for the Lethbridge College on-campus event is free and includes lunch and an opportunity to experience Virtual Reality from at least eight of Alberta’s top VR businesses. It is also free to tune into online.
The event is sponsored by the Virtual and Augmented Reality Association – Alberta chapter, Lethbridge College, the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta and the Lethbridge College Students’ Association.
Last year’s inaugural Merging Realities event prompted 712 live views and 12,690 minutes watched on live streaming video, more than 1,500 unique visits to the event webpage and more than 2.9 million impressions of the event hashtag on Twitter.
Visit mergingrealities.ca to register or for more information.
LISTEN: Multimedia Production instructor Allyson Cikor: