The Future of Reality Comes to the Think Big Festival in Coeur d’Alene

Devyn Miller reacts to the elephant coming toward her in the virtual African adventure using the Oculus Rift head mounted display at the Think Big Festival in Coeur d'Alene in August 2016.

Devyn Miller reacts to the elephant coming toward her in the virtual African adventure using the Oculus Rift head mounted display at the Think Big Festival in Coeur d’Alene in August 2016.

The 3rd Annual Think Big Festival was very visible in Coeur d’Alene on August 26-27. This high tech festival brings young and old, techie and novice together to get a glimpse of the future.

Tesla gave free rides in its fleet of electric and autonomous cars. Robots and delivery robots were in town and people enjoyed the wonders of virtual and augmented reality.

Event coordinators, the local Innovation Collective, brought in speakers, for the Saturday panels to talk about health, investment, transportation and reality. These technical, finance and education gurus came together to look into the future that isn’t very far away.

Along with the speakers were a variety of different demonstrations and interactive displays. The clear winner of this group was the virtual reality booth according to the length of the line to experience the device. In Saturday’s speakers’ forum, Ross Finman from MIT discussed the three areas that will see significant enhancement because of virtual reality: instruction, visualization and entertainment.

Instruction

Education and technology are interconnected. Historical recreations will be a good use of virtual reality using the head mounted displays and the reality simulation technology. Students someday will be able to first read about the building of the pyramids, then be able to virtually walk among the builders of the pyramids.

Visualization

Wouldn’t you rather see what your house would look like on the inside and out, with your furniture in place and your landscaping completed before you have your house built?

Maybe you would rather virtually jump from a plane instead of actually doing it. The possibilities are endless.

Entertainment

Lew Strachman, with Nova Wake Studios, discussed his dream as a kid. “I’ve always wanted to create a virtual reality movie. It seems to be a little more complicated than I anticipated. But, we are working on the mechanics.” He said the process is easy to photograph with small drones and computers, but hard to piece it together.

One of the virtual reality enthusiasts at the Think Big Festival was Devyn Miller. Miller said, “It’s very intense. It puts you in a different frame of mind, kind of like an out of body experience.” She voiced her concerns about more people being consumed by virtual worlds where they meet other people and socialize rather than interacting in reality.

With each new technology, there is always positive and negative impacts on society and the economy. But one thing is sure, the future is coming quickly and it will be exciting.

–Vicki Kunz, workforce consultant
Idaho Department of Labor