Here we are! The Big Show - the one I spent my last year of life building with my truly insanely hard working team - Chrissy Aitchison, Stephanie Greenall, Melanie Smith, Rachel MacKenzie, Josh Joudrie and Marika Woyzbun aaand it happens to be issue #100!

When did that happen? I don't even post consistently (tsk), so we are talking, like, years of doing this now.

Which is kinda the point for all of you who have now been out there duking it out with this VR and AR mania that caught you in its cyclone over the past few years.

What a ride it has been! Whoa horsie.

VR has moved from grape juice into its first wine. Experiences are no longer simple shooters or jump scares but layered and increasingly nuanced. Now with the complex tools distilled to off-the-shelf, all-in-ones, the question is not how do we make it, but what should we make?

For those of you who will be able to make it to the VRTO conference in Toronto this year, I won't spoil all the surprises, but I will share that it is about humans and it is about recalibration. Taking a moment to pause, now, and reset ourselves. The Oculus Quest is here. People rejoice. The games are good. The UI is smooth. The onboarding experience is sweet and the major media are paying attention and talking about a new dawn for immersive tech.

VRTO is interested in the NEXT reality for this media, even as we now gather together to really work on how to make this stuff available to EVERYONE else. ANYONE. Anywhere. Anytime. Any income. Any obstacle.

Because this tech isn't a toy for elites; it is a powerful means for communicating ideas in new ways, in embodied, ways, in holographic ways. You get it. That is how you are subscribed to this madman's newsletter.

VRTO 2019 explores this by bringing provocateurs, digital media harbingers, authors, and outsiders to the table to discuss the future of culture, society, humanity and how we collectively can work together, communicate better and leverage this media to improve the world and reverse our dangerous courses not only mechanically but ethically.

This event remains independent and it remains hand-made, by humans, for humans.

Here are some final highlights about this year's show that I haven't shared before.

Saturday June 1st

Big News!

Eagle Flight and Beyond: Key Learnings from Ubisoft VR and Growing the XR Ecosystem

Speaker: Olivier Palmieri  - Director of XR Workshop |

Get the story behind how Ubisoft embraced VR, and the R&D process that led from working on comfortable motion to the creation of Eagle Flight. In this talk, you’ll learn more about the Ubisoft XR Workshop, a new initiative bringing together industry and academics to collaborate on new AR and VR projects.

A New Controller for a New World: What’s Next For Neural Interface Technology

Speaker: Adam Berenzweig |

Adam Berenzweig | CTRL-Labs

Non-invasive neural interfaces have the power to crack open previously unimagined degrees of freedom in HCI. Adam Berenzweig of CTRL-labs outlines a near future in which developers can engage the motor nervous system to make computing feel like a natural extension of thought and movement. CTRL-labs’ SDK, CTRL-kit, allows developers to address urgent problems of immersion and control in XR, robotics, productivity, and clinical research.

In this session, Adam will discuss how recent advances have cleared the path for practical neural interfaces to finally materialize, and how this will enable HCI to progress to an entirely new computing paradigm.

Use the Force.


Sunday June 2nd

Spatialized 3D Audio and Generative Music
Speaker: John Kyle Varley | Frameworks Productions


Immersive Audio: Nightmares, Dreams, Realities
Speaker: Christian Hurst | Interleave Creative

For producers, composers, project designers, writers and everyone else, check out the block on Sunday June 2nd, of fascinating presentations concerning how to compose for orchestra in spatialized media with John Kyle Varley of Frameworks Productions, followed by the significance of bringing audio into the very first (and very final stages) of production with Christian Hurst of Interleave Creative who most recently worked with Dark Slope on Scarygirl.

Seamlessly Interactive: A Roadmap to Adaptive Storytelling
Speakers: Luisa Valencia, Etienne Archambault | Signal Space Lab

Etienne Archambault and Luisa Valencia visit us from Montreal to discuss their latest project Afterlife, the spiritual successor to Mel's Wake you may have seen at FIVARS 2018.

Bringing together the various elements of interactive and immersive design, Signal Space Lab discusses the challenges, discoveries, and future of their projects, Mel's Wake and Afterlife.

Rather than attempting to gamify spherical video, they have placed spherical video inside of a game engine framework, creating seamless transitions on a multi-nodal storyline, drawing on the latest in audio, video, branching narrative with their proprietary technique Seamless Interactive Cinematic for live-action VR.

Monday June 3rd

Entering the Arena: AR, VR and the Future of eSports

Panelists: Keisha Howard | Sugar Gamers, Ajay Fry | ESports in 30, Geoffrey LaChapelle, Moderator | IQ eqsports

Jakyo Manor - eSports Tournament Organizer

What are the elements that define eSports? Is it the cult of personality? The team spirit? The visceral nature of the arena setting? The fact that fans will cheer for the very sponsors? Or is it the sense of community that it builds? What will the introduction of VR and AR mean to eSports? How can the eSports’ multi-billion dollar industry parlay into the fledgling immersive space? What are the implications for products like Oculus Quest that offer wide-area free-roaming tetherless active experiences, to eSports? To the world? This panel will explore these questions and work on building logical bridges between these nascent industries.

Our panel with eSports pros and soothsayers has come together beautiful and thanks to Stephanie Greenall and Lucie LaLumiere for their support in putting it together.

Did you hear the one about how George R.R. Martin who wrote the books about the dragons and families n' junk invested a bunch of his cash into those folks that make giant playgrounds for grownups?

Transporting audiences into fantastic realms of storytelling, companies Meow Wolf--an art collective turned experiential art company--just raised $158 million to expand their ventures!

LBE 2019 & The Experience Economy

Speakers: Laura Mingail | Entertainment ONE, CJ Hervey | Dark Slope Studios, Morgan Carlson | Globacore Interactive Technologies, Moderator: Clifton Dawson Greenlight Insights

It is a brave new world and the notions of the future from previous conjecture are being waylaid by real-world implementations. From Meow Wolf’s influence on the immersive experience phenomenon that has trickled down to selfie pop-up spaces in cities and towns across North America, to the hybridized theme park adventures combining VR and AR into complex architectural designs like Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, the game is modulating, evolving, mutating. In this panel industry analyst Clifton Dawson talks with lead reps from top experiential design companies about the state of the art.


Ok just one more:
How most people see Syrmor (his avatar)

At the very last hour we added what might become one of the most compelling and generative moments for VRTO. Jesse Damiani - now deputy director of emerging technology at Southern New Hampshire University, brought in Toronto YouTube phenomenon Syrmor Shiraz. You didn't know him before and now you do and you won't forget his work.

On Sunday, right before Galit Ariel and Douglas Rushkoff do their featured talks, this little so-called fireside chat will flip you upside down. Say you were "in the know" before everyone else by attending:

Discovering Humanity in the Virtual: Syrmor’s Gonzo Journalism in SocialVR

Amassing more than a half-million YouTube subscribers, Syrmor spends his time in virtual reality humanizing avatars with the stories of the people behind them. A cute little bird talks about their time in the Korean military, while a teenage boy using a Kermit the Frog skin opens up about being bullied in highschool. His videos showcase the unique opportunity VR gives us to connect with each other.

Syrmor has made a name for himself as an embedded journalist in VRChat, unearthing intimate, personal stories from users across the globe. This fireside chat will dig into these experiences and take a look at his exciting new initiative using VR in criminal justice. 


Here's a quick overview of some of the wonderful and advanced experiences you can enjoy at VRTO, and more importantly discuss with their creators onsite.

Pimax / IRIS VR

“LOW-FI” is the spiritual successor to the critically acclaimed “TECHNOLUST” and will be showcasing several scenes from the meticulously crafted Cyberpunk world created by Blair Renaud. The short visit to the future will be showing on the Pimax 5K+ headset.

Friend Generator

“After Dan Graham” is a mixed reality interactive art installation inspired by Dan Graham’s 1974 video art installation “Time Delay Room 1.” Both a re-creation and homage to Graham’s work, this installation extends his groundbreaking use of video feedback to investigate how technology mediates self-perception. Designed for multiple participants, this installation presents a virtual environment inside a physical environment.

just in case you are paying attention, here is a 15% discount code for the remaining tickets kerams100theemail

Masterpiece VR

MasterpieceVR features dynamic brushes and powerful sculpting tools that allow you to build tangible objects, colorful environments, and high quality models. Sculpt with friends in the same room in real time, or invite spectators to watch while you create. Most recently, MasterpieceVR released Motion, a VR art creation tool for rigging, skinning, and posing assets within Virtual Reality.

Tribe of Pan

“The Choice” is a Virtual Reality documentary experience inviting you to enter the digital consciousness of a virtual person dealing with an unplanned pregnancy. As your mind searches for answers, real people appear in this space with you. They speak to you about what shaped their decision to terminate their pregnancy and the emotions they experienced. Each person’s story is different, diverse and unique.

Martov Co.

“Forged” features an innovative combat system that provides a fully immersive, intuitive yet challenging experience, as well as Martov’s award-winning aesthetics. Choose your hero and a team of AI allies to face off against your foe, destroy their source of power, and dominate the forces of Dekar. (2 player experience)

Signal Space Lab

Using a cutting-edge VR filming technique, “Afterlife”—from Signal Space Lab—takes the audience through branching narratives that seamlessly reveal a story that shifts based on the characters that the player chooses to follow, and the objects activated within the environment. No two playthroughs are alike!

Occupied VR & Blimey (co-production)

Featuring interactive environments that are 3D scanned replicas of historic locations & exclusive interviews with key figures from the different communities, Occupied VR and Blimey’s latest experience “The Holy City” celebrates diversity rooted in culture, fostering an inclusive sense of community. Back from Cannes, they will be on hand to demo a selection from the larger experience coming soon.

Thanks to our major supporters including the CFC, Pandor, Cleanbox, Toronto Media Arts Centre, Charles St Video, Gamma Space, Dames Making Games, CFMDC and all the community partners that made this show a possibility.

See the complete schedule here:

Follow this link to learn more and reserve your tickets from the few remaining for #VRTO2019 at:

thank you, for reading and thank you for supporting VRTO.

See. you. soon.


If you have a groundbreaking news story you'd like to see in the next issues of the VRTO newsletter, VR/AR related material you'd like to advertise, sponsor, present on a topic, have some feedback or want to list an Event at the VRTO Event Calendar, please email me at

Our home page is at: - where you can sign up for our mailing list, check out upcoming and past events, and go through our huge list of VR/AR resources.

Interested in future VRTO Events? Join us via our Meetup page! 

Do you have a wonderful narrative VR or AR work to share with the world? Consider submitting to the FIVARS 2019 festival via at

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