The Creating Reality VR|AR Hackathon – advancing the field with original works

Blog Cover

USC backs a record-setting hackathon, bringing together interdisciplinary and diverse teams to stretch known limits.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality advanced rapidly last year – new technology, new apps and new ideas gained ground for VR|AR. Entering 2018, VR|AR continue to evolve with increasing momentum. Towards this end, participants at the Creating Reality Hackathon, sponsored by USC, will be inspired to create original VR|AR work by meeting new people and becoming exposed to new ideas. The hackathon will take place during March 12 – March 15, 2018. To learn more or apply to participate in the hackathon, please visit the Creating Reality Hackathon website.

The Creating Reality Hackathon is structured more like a 4-day SXSW than a traditional hackathon. Its foundation is a one-time, purpose-built, diverse, international and large-scale community of 400 participants, selected from over 2,000 applications. This community’s core purpose is to deepen our understanding of how these technologies can be applied.

When a technology is fully understood, we do not need hackathons. We simply hire development teams, instruct them of our needs, and await a solution. This is not the case with the cutting-edge field of VR|AR, which provides us unabated inspiration to produce new ideas and applications. Convening a record setting sized VR|AR hackathon was the idea of Rus Gant, head of Visualization Research and Teaching Laboratory at Harvard. Gant, with three decades of experience and referred to as the Yoda of VR, wanted to scale and parallelize the investigation of VR|AR technology by talented, interdisciplinary teams. Gant’s idea became the Reality, Virtually, Hackathon, sponsored by the MIT Media Lab.  Interdisciplinary research is at the core of the Media Lab, which often encourages the unconventional mixing and matching of seemingly disparate research areas. The Media Lab, an early VR|AR technology innovator, recognized how nearly a hundred talented interdisciplinary teams had the potential to impact and advance VR|AR. Scott Greenwald, Ph.D. and the Fluid Interfaces Group adopted the Reality, Virtually, Hackathon, sponsoring the event in 2016 and 2017.

MIT Media Lab’s hackathon served as a learning experience that  inspired this year’s Creating Reality Hackathon at USC, which is adapted for the USC and LA communities. The areas of interest and project submission categories are expected to vary for the two hackathons, because of differences in the two universities’ curriculum and research, as well as the geographically represented industries. Meanwhile, the creation of original works is a central theme for both hackathons.

The hackathon begins with a day of enabling workshops for developers, designers, artists and creatives, followed by two days of building. Learning in workshops transcends into learning by designing and building for two full days. The last day will be dedicated to the complex task of judging the approximately 80 project submissions.