CiTi shows-off Cape Town’s virtual reality talents

Anyone up-to-date with the latest trends in tech will tell you that virtual reality (VR) is seriously big.

If the hype around the technology at E3 isn’t a give-away, then the US$2-billion acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook last year surely is.

Tech giants like Microsoft, Sony and HTC are all entering this space, each with their own clever offering in the field of VR and augmented reality (AR).

Read more: More than just gaming: 3 key takeaways from E3 2015

While most of the commercial hardware products are only set for release within the next year or so, creatives are already getting a foot in the door. Whether that be absorbing people into the virtual world of war-ridden Syria or the life of the cute and cuddly, Henry the Hedgehog.

What better place in the world to spur innovation and creativity than in Cape Town — a city that’s often hailed for its world-class film studios and design talents?

Organised by the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), around 200 people pitched up at the Bandwidth Barn recently to immersive themselves in virtual simulations and listen the experts.

Among other things, attendees were given the opportunity to experience what it’s like to run the Two Oceans Marathon while sipping on red wine and nibbling on pizza, from the comfort of their chairs:

Cape Town company Hero Films developed a 360 degree video for Old Mutual’s Two Oceans Marathon Expo stand

Read more: Virtual Reality event to tap into South Africa’s creative community 29 July

CEO of CiTi Ian Merrington pointed out that while gaming and film seem to be at the forefront of VR, the technology holds potential to unlock other industries as well:

“VR can seem like technology that is only for select few, but the application of it is boundless. From booking tickets to ecommerce to social media, training, architecture, surgery, prototyping, and education, we know that VR is going to disrupt nearly every market, and tourism is one that we feel is particularly pertinent for us here in the Western Cape.”

Also at the event was SenseVirtual — a South African company that’s building immersive, virtual experiences for customers and businesses.

Read more: Crossing the rift: why we can expect big things from South Africa’s growing VR industry

Tyrone Rubin, a co-founder of SenseVirtual, noted that the event was meant to bring people together from all walks of life, whether a developer, filmmaker or an architect. “Our sole objective is focused around connecting people that share a love and passion for VR,” he said.


“The growth of this event shows us that there is a strong interest in opportunities around virtual reality in Cape Town,” said Grant de Sousa who heads up the VR Community of SA. “With the help of the Bandwidth Barn we’ve been able to nurture the virtual reality community. Our goal is to establish Cape Town as the hub of VR development.”


CiTi is now calling the virtual reality community asking for developers to come forward with ideas and solutions focused on tourism in the Western Cape.

Co-founders of the soon-to-launch HubVirtual Dan and Geoff Kruss moreover spoke about their initiative that hopes to become a platform for VR and AR developers to collaborate and create awesome content.



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