To X or not to XR

And so we start again. Exploring emergent media is exciting. And sometimes overwhelming. The debate over what really constitutes VR isn't over, and yet creators seem to keep coming up with new experience that have us question if they should be defined and classify as augmented, mixed, or extended reality. Isn't everything immersive an extension of our conception of reality?

But here's an important thing to remember - there is no box. So why try to box it all in? More than ever, immersive media is getting recognized as an art form and a field of its own. In the prestigious Mostra del Cinema di Venezia, this year, an entire island (yes, you could only get there through vaporetto) was dedicated to VR experiences.

In the XR industry, styles, storytelling approaches, multi or single user experiences and humans senses solicited vary quite amazingly and magically - giving us a sense that VR, like punk rock, is quite far from dead.

In this trippy journey to "we don't know where we're going and we like it this way", new actors are also emerging. New players, wanting to explore the extension of augmented reality through glasses, headsets, and audio devices (MagicLeap, Varjo, Bose), and new fields questioning how they too can tackle the potential of new experiential and storytelling devices (health, physics, music, chemistry, theatre).

Our class this year is filled with eager overachievers, smart creators and sensible designers. We have poetic coders and programmers. We have people interested in journalism and documentary, experiential design, architecture, game interaction, spatialized sound, machine learning, immersive tools for health, flight and space explorations.

We also have a fantastic line up of speakers visiting the class - world acclaimed innovators of VR, and pioneers of new applications of immersive media. All speakers will also take part in our Speaker Series, free and open to all public, that we host in partnership with the MIT Open Doc Lab.

The Oculus NextGen family itself has also been growing, and we'll get opportunities to share with them as they too will be visiting.

Never still, undefined, ever shifting and untamed. That is the creative world we are here to explore. We are not afraid - we're inspired. We are pioneers. Welcome to the rocking HackingXR 2019!

Sandra Rodriguez, PhD

Lecturer - CMS.339/839