The concept of “virtual reality” has been around for decades, and has inspired science fiction and popular culture in countless ways, from the “cyberspace” of William Gibson’s novels to “Tron” and “The Matrix.” But with the breakneck speed of technological innovation we’re seeing today, we’re perhaps closer than ever to seeing VR taking hold in the mainstream.
Next week brings the first meeting of the Hawaii Virtual Reality Club, focused on exploring the potential of these virtual worlds. Founded by graphic designer and web entrepreneur Ka’i Kau, the club will convene at HICapacity in Kaka’ako.
“Virtual reality is set to make a comeback and change the world of videogames like the iPhone changed the world of phones,” Kau says. “I want to help establish Hawaii as a hub for software development for this exciting new platform, as I see the potential for any software written right now to take off in a big way.”
The focus of Tuesday’s inaugural gathering will be the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. The device was born on Kickstarter, where it raised an incredible $2.4 million (blasting past its initial goal of $250,000). Kau was an early backer of the campaign.
At the meetup, Kau says, attendees will be able to check out two Oculus Rift headsets and their accompanying development kits. The device has made quite a splash in the gaming and technology community, and perhaps most notably earned oohs and aahs on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”
“We’ll be demonstrating the technology for the local community, and to further stoke interest in developers and designers for the new platform, we’ll have a pair of talks about the Oculus Rift, virtual reality, and how Hawaii developers have the opportunity to get involved early creating for this innovative hardware,” he explains.
The Hawaii VR Club meeting will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25 at HICapacity (307a Kamani Street). Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to RSVP online. The hashtag for the event is #hicapvr.