By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“It was a fantastic event . . . something that will continue to have an impact on what I’m doing,” Cyndi Buchanan told us recently.
She was describing the one-day “Oculus Launch Pad 2016” accelerator held in late May in Menlo Park, CA. Buchanan was the only virtual reality (VR) developer from Tennessee attending the invitation only event and one of only about 15 from the East Coast.
“There are very few of us on the East Coast,” the Owner of Knoxville-based Agilibility told us. “Most of the VR developers are based in California.”
Buchanan said the 99 attendees were either individuals who were just starting in the VR development arena or more experienced developers who had a big idea that they wanted to get off the ground fast.
In either case, the participants attended a series of classes throughout the day featuring top developers in the VR space. As a result of participating in the Oculus event, Buchanan says she now has access to the class instructors for the next three months. They will serve as mentors for the participants.
“We will be able to reach out to them so they can keep watch over us,” she explained. “It’s going to be a really great resource for us.”
The oversight will last for three months, and the attendees are expected to keep weekly logs that they will review with the mentors. The goal is to help the participants make solid progress on their projects.
“After three months, some of us will be picked for special funding,” Buchanan said. She obviously intends to be one of the selected individuals so that she can advance her special VR project.
“It is a virtual reality app that allows individuals to go to their favorite hiking spots,” Buchanan explained at the time. For those with disabilities, this is usually impossible.
“We have created two experiences, but want them to be available in an app,” Buchanan said. The two VR-based hikes are to Max Patch Trail in North Carolina and Mount Cammerer Trail near the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
She wants to offer three additional hikes – nearby Mt. LeConte and Chimney Tops Trail – as well as Roan Mountain. And, for added impact, Buchanan wants the app to be available for four different VR platforms – Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Gear VR, and Google Cardboard.
“We’re seeking sponsors to make the app the best it can be,” Buchanan says. “Our goal is to raise $50,000 to fund all of the development. We hope to reach out to businesses that want to help the community of people with disabilities.”
Those interested in learning more about the project, including seeing a demonstration, should contact Buchanan at firstname.lastname@example.org.