Crytek’s ‘VR First’ Program to Double Number of Academic VR/AR Labs in 2017

VR First, the global initiative to seed academic institutions with VR/AR hardware and software, today announced that it’s nearly doubling the number of its VR labs in universities and science parks across the globe by the end of 2017. With currently 26 labs operating in the United States, Europe, Asia and Oceania, VR First is bringing the number to 40 labs by the end of year.

Unveiled last January by Crytek, the VR First program is designed to foster innovation by not only creating independent VR labs where they once weren’t, but by also converting PC labs into AR/VR-ready facilities—and it’s doing it in top universities and science parks across 23 countries including Purdue University, University of Florida, University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering, Oklahoma State, and Vancouver Film School.
image courtesy VR First
The idea is to stimulate development in VR where questions can be answered best, and in a place where projects can be developed without the heavy startup cost associated with PC VR.
Currently VR First is boasting more than 50 projects in development at the labs, and not just games. In fact, games only account for 35% of projects underway, as the rest are focused on fields like psychology and neuroscience (12%), education (7%), tourism (7% ), and architecture and real estate (6%). Development is divided evenly across the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift platforms, each accounting for 31% of projects created, with other major VR platforms such as Samsung Gear VR, OSVR, and Daydream rounding out the bottom numbers. While the program is principally a creation of Crytek, students working in VR First labs tend use Unity (48%), followed by Unreal (20%) and then CRYENGINE (14%).
image courtesy VR First
AR headset distribution is much more dramatic, as students are mainly developing on Microsoft HoloLens (43%), with Google Glass, Vuzix AR headsets, Epson Moverio, Meta AR Dev Kits making up the rest of the pie chart. A full 25% of projects however are reported to be using ‘other’ hardware platforms, but considering the massive number of Google Glass-style headsets out there, it’s no wonder they didn’t name them all.
With a growing reach comes a bigger voice too, so VR First is also helping to push a new Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standard, called IEEE P2048.5, which focuses on setting quality assurance and testing standards for VR/AR hardware in regards to fully immersive environments. To that end, VR First is also partnering with benchmarking company Futuremark to support benchmarking requirements through its standardization efforts. Through its Lab Renovation Program, VR First will promote the adoption of these new standards by lab partners, governments and science parks.
development at Carleton University, image courtesy VR First
“The progress VR First has made in just its first year, from 26 labs open and more coming soon, to its growing technology partner network and the unveiling of dozens of VR projects developed at VR First Labs, is excellent momentum to democratize the innovation VR/AR landscape,” explains Ferhan Özkan, co-founder, VR First.  “With more than 65% of universities planning dedicated VR labs, plus science parks and governments interest to do the same, continued growth of our efforts is without question. We invite all industry technology providers and stakeholders to join us in this meaningful program.”
The program, which also includes a network of participating schools, has over 500 universities and science parks worldwide. The broader-reaching network is designed to help developers convert ideas into business opportunities and introduce them to established industry partners.
VR First Institutions (including new openings)

Aalborg University Copenhagen, Denmark
Academy of Art San Francisco, USA
Bahçesehir University (BAU), Turkey
California State University Monterey Bay, USA
Canterbury University, New Zealand
Carleton University, Canada
Comenius University Bratislava, Slovakia
Dania Academy of Higher Education, Denmark
Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, Germany
Doña Ana Community College, USA
Graz University of Technology, Austria
HTW Berlin, Germany
Ilia State University, Georgia
Kajaani University of Applied Sciences, Finland
LLC Technology Companies Development Center, Ukraine
Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Middle East Technical University, Turkey
NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands
North Carolina State University, USA
North Metropolitan TAFE, Australia
Oklahoma State University, USA
Paneuropean University Bratislava, Slovakia
Purdue University, USA
Rochester Institute of Technology, USA
RUBIKA, France
Sogang University, South Korea
South East European University, Macedonia
State University of New York at Oswego, USA
Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia
Universität Hamburg, Germany
Universität Heidelberg, Germany
University College Cork, Ireland
University College London, UK
University of Florida, USA
University of Southern California (USC), USA
University of the Aegean, Greece
Vancouver Film School, Canada
VIGAMUS Academy, Italy
Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Lithuania
Warsaw University of Technology, Poland


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Source: Crytek’s ‘VR First’ Program to Double Number of Academic VR/AR Labs in 2017