iX Symposium – Embodied Spaces

Two years ago, M and I went to the iX Symposium in Montreal to talk about virtual reality, spherical video, and webVR. We showed a demo, participated in a keynote panel, and ran an Intro to WebVR workshop for the first time. This was before we were blogging regularly, but M made a nice spherical video about our experience.

We had a great time.¬†So, this year, when our¬†“Year of the Body” theme matched up coincidentally and beautifully with the iX Embodied Spaces theme, we were delighted to accept an invitation to return to the symposium and share our thoughts and progress.

This time, M, Evelyn, and I all attended, and we once again showed a demo, participated in a keynote, and ran a workshop.

I set up¬†a single Vive station¬†with our Hyperbolic VR¬†project, a nice example of using VR to develop a physical intuition for an unusual mathematical space. We were originally going to show VR Marco Polo, as an example of a “VR” experience that was primarily focused on your physical body, but quickly realized that we needed something a bit more self-explanatory for a demo that we planned to run continuously through the conference.

Thursday was our busiest conference day. M gave¬†the eleVR keynote presentation on our work from the last year and upcoming, with a particular focus on our current, “Year of the Body”. We all did Q&A afterwards. People seemed to be particularly interested in our recent thoughts on how your real physical office environment affects you in VR. We don’t have any photos of this that we took ourselves because we were all on stage, but a few people tweeted about it:

Shortly after our keynote, we did the first run of the DIY AvatARs workshop that Evelyn posted about a few weeks ago. We ran the workshop twice and had great participation and success rates. Everybody seemed to be having a lot of fun.



On Wednesday, M was spontaneously invited to be part of an afternoon kickoff panel¬†on “Presence and Etiquette in Cyberspace”. This is something that we¬†spend a lot of time thinking about and discussing around the office, so while the invitation was a surprise, M was plenty prepared to debate the topic.


Of course, the best part of any event is meeting other people and learning about what the rest of the world is working on and exploring. We used a divide and conquer strategy to going to talks and workshops and demos and performances. As with our last visit to iX, there were some very neat demos in the SATosphere (dome).

M with Rafael Lozano-Hemmer in his studio

In addition to the organized symposium activities, we met a lot of interesting people doing interesting work informally throughout the week. Many of them were locals who were excited to show us around their work spaces outside of the symposium. One of my favorite parts of traveling for conferences is getting the opportunity to expand my understanding beyond the accidental and informal constraints of the local environment. As we explore social VR more and more, perhaps some of these opportunities for expanded horizons can come without the cost of real physical travel. In the meantime, expect a future full of additional conference reports.