Otronicon comes up short on video game hype and demos
Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 17:01
The Orlando Science Center hosted its annual interactive technology convention, Otronicon from Jan. 14 through 17.
As convention-goers entered the transformed museum, they were greeted by flashing lights, blaring sounds and frenetic shouts of the crowd already inside. Visitors were given the opportunity to take part in a bevy of demonstrations, workshops and trials of new forms of interactive entertainment.
Local companies such as Electronic Arts studio Tiburon and Cubic Corp., a realistic gun simulation company, placed their technologies on the floor for demonstrations. The convention even attracted distant companies to its door from as far away as New York.
Virtusphere Inc., the technology group responsible for the demo, came all the way from New York to allow guests at the convention the chance to try out this technology for themselves.
Locals recognized the Virtusphere to have visual similarities as the well-known Spaceship Earth dome at Disney's Epcot.
A virtual reality display with real time positioning technology was strapped to the participant's head and they were maneuvered into the sphere.
It took some practice to get oneself comfortable enough to walk with confidence but the CEO of Virtusphere, Ray Latypov, showed the audience gathered around his invention how one could run at a full pace within the sphere. He suggested a variety of applications from fitness and military training to physical and mental rehabilitation.
EA also played a major role in sponsoring the event. They had several demonstrations of their products including a live demo of their virtual playbook, which has been used on networks like ESPN and FOX Sports.
They even set up a stage to showcase the new Rock Band game and live "bands" were encouraged to sign up for their chance in the spotlight.
Applied Cognition and Training in Immersive Virtual Environments, a UCF-affiliated research laboratory, demonstrated some of their recent work. ACTIVE had an R/C car set in a maze that participants could direct using a Nintendo Wii MotionPlus controller by leaning it forward and backward for motion and turning it left and right to change direction.
Although it was fun, it also served an ulterior motive. The true purpose of this demonstration was to show how the software and robotics they developed could operate a vehicle and make real time decisions about its surroundings. For example, to be able to sense if it is in the presence of friendly or hostile soldiers, and for the goal of patrolling streets, disarming bombs while performing reconnaissance work autonomously.
Most visitors came for the promise of a video game convention and may have left disappointed in this regard. With so few actual video game developers and publishers actually taking part in the festivities, it left a gap only filled by industries on the fringe of interactive media and entertainment.
Nevertheless, there were still an array of video game tournaments and playable demos on the showroom floor. There was even a classic arcade were gamers could try their hands at the 7-foot cabinet arcades of the past and get a taste of how gaming was like back then.
Video game-inspired music and art characterized the convention as a place for creativity and imagination.
Orlando, a city with its fair share of technology and media driven industries, has once again given the public a look at emerging interactive technologies at Otronicon.
The convention fulfilled its promised to venture into all things related to interactive technology from video games and robotics to creative pursuits like music and art.