VR symposium: Let’s get virtual!

Successful VR symposium hosted by Network Institute
“Let’s get virtual!” showed the fascinating diversity if VR research at the VU 

Virtual Reality (in VR) is an exciting new medium that provides a compelling new user experience. Unlike other existing media, in VR you really feel like “being there”, with your mind and body. Maybe it is not surprising, then, that VR is booming. Major tech companies like Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft invest billions of dollars into the development of this new technology and related applications, the Netherlands enjoys a vivid VR start-up scene, and scholars around the world start zooming in on VR in their research.

To map, connect, and advance these fascinating and diverse VR research initiatives at the VU, Tilo Hartmann (Chair of VU Communication Science) and Marco Otte (Chief technology officer at the VU’s Network Institute) launched the interdisciplinary VR@VU group at the Network Institute. And in November, just before the VR Days Europe took place in Amsterdam, the group organized “Let’s get virtual!” – a compelling half-day symposium to showcase the diversity of VR research at the VU.

The well-attended symposium featured inspiring talks and exciting interactive demos by speakers such as Avinash Changa (CEO WeMakeVR), Charlotte Gerritsen (VU computer science), Tilo Hartmann (VU Communication Science) or Faviola Brugger Dadis (Clinical Psychology). The symposium demonstrated that at the VU, too, VR research is clearly on the rise and fuels both research and entrepreneurship: Law scholars use this immersive new technology to let students train in a virtual court (PleitVRij), clinical psychologists apply VR as an effective tool to counter fear of heights (ZeroPhobia) or in stroke rehabilitation (NeuroReality), economists examine VR as a tool to improve individuals’ efforts to prepare for flooding, communication scientists and computer scientists join forces to examine how users respond to artificial social agents in VR, and scholars at movement sciences apply VR to measure and advance people’s posture and walking, etc.

The “let’s get virtual!” symposium was met with so much enthusiasm and interest that plans for a follow-up event in November 2020 are already in the making. If you are interested, please get in touch with Marco Otte or Tilo Hartmann.