Virtual Reality is Already in Israel
The virtual reality technology is in the midst of a cycle that’s ready to explode and hit every consumer based market, with a high-water mark coming in 2014 when Facebook decided to buy out headset-maker Oculus VR for $2 billion. Israel, home to a number of indie VR companies and other related tech companies, including one that plans to create and manufacture a 360-degree camera for under $1,000 is hungry for a piece of that cake.
“My fantasy is that Israel will be a VR powerhouse, and we have every opportunity to do it,” said virtual-reality game designer Doron Knaan speaking at a March 4 morning panel.
His positivity and wonderful outlook comes from the ideology of indie virtual reality studios, which he believes to be the future of this technologically advanced industry, as well as the enterprising spirit for which Israel is famous for.
“It was really hard to get information and knowledge, which is completely unjustified,” said Adi Lavy, one of the group’s founders, lamenting a “disconnect between the film industry and Israeli VR technology.”
Besides connecting would be VR filmmakers with technology companies and businesses, the Steamer Salon is the center of this program, opening at Tel Aviv University in October, that will allow students to earn a masters degree in fine arts in digital media, keeping a strong focal point on new platforms for interactive and 3D storytelling.
“There’s a lot of junk out there, and they’re able to get away with it because of the ‘wow’ factor,” Nonny de la Peña, a journalist and senior research fellow at USC who directed “Project Syria,” said during an afternoon panel. “That’s not going to last.”
“It’s an astonishing number, but people hear it and then it’s gone,” de la Peña said at the meeting.
Sitting opposite from de la Peña at the meeting was Gabo Arora, a United Nations senior adviser who makes virtual reality films for the U.N. He chats about the impact a small VR documentary he co-directed about the Syrian crisis had on its viewers.
“Clouds Over Sidra” follows a pre-teen child that fled her home in Syria because of the Arora recounted how an Iraqi journalist who he met previously asked to see the film. After taking the virtual reality goggles off, “he broke down very seriously and actually had to be consoled,”.
While allowing that the media is still a work in progress, meeting attendees were confident that the hardships could still be overcome. Moderating the Friday morning meeting, Yoram Honig, “Read my lips,” he said. “We think that in five years from now, 2,000 people will work in that industry in Jerusalem.”
A unique aspect to this is finding out that Israel already has a reckoning of what virtual reality is and this fact allows us to learn that we are not the only technologically advanced country, especially in terms of virtual reality. The United States may be home to some of the higher working towards the advancement of virtual reality, but it definitely has to work harder as other countries are opening their arms in acceptance of newer and more powerful technology.
Project Syria, a VR film, also hopes to widen and broaden mentality towards crisis’ around the middle east and at the same time it can also increase the knowledge of virtual reality.