Peter Stanley Hollander.43
Artistic / Creative Endeavours
Using the money granted to me by the STEP program, I have furthered my research and development in the field of virtual reality. Since applying to the program, I have attended multiple industry conferences on the West Coast, received exclusive hardware training and certification by industry leaders, presented our company’s hardware and spoke at a conference based in Hollywood, and now expanding and exploring various relationships with big names in the VR industry; all whilst tackling the process of bringing our commercial hardware, Talaria, to market. The funding by STEP specifically contributed towards part of the cost of the professional hardware training.
I’ve become a lot more confident in my creative capabilities since the start of this project. Just because I haven’t taken any formal coursework in the fields of hardware and software engineering doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of solving problems in that field, and in many cases doing so professionally. Because of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles I have overcome and comprehended, my will-power and confidence is ever-growing from continued development of this project; and my portfolio continues to grow and strengthen with it.
Over the past year or so of development, I’ve had a lot of pivotal moments take me further down the path I’m still travelling on today. Our first big validation was attending Unity’s Vision Summit 2016 in Hollywood, CA back in February of that year. It was at this conference that I first publicly shared Talaria with the world, following the submission of our provisional patent application. Five key experiences I had at Vision 2016 were:
- Valve had an “Oprah” moment and gave all present developers a free high-end virtual reality headset, enabling me to actively develop for the HTC Vive at all times.
- The US Navy requested a quote for purchasing some development kits of our hardware.
- The lead of innovations at NASA JPL expressed interest in my work, and the two of us have remained in touch since.
- A Valve employee told me that our hardware is a dead-end and will only make people sick. That was huge advice that I took to heart as a challenge to succeed, and it’s been a fantastic driving force since.
- A fellow virtual reality developer invited me into an online VR dev community. This community has been thriving and creates a fantastic network of friends and developers that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Following Vision Summit, I continued further developing our hardware. Eventually, I was invited to attend Steam Development Days hosted by Valve in Seattle, WA. The conference was hosted in November, and it was here that I was able to meet with a lot of the developers I had befriended from that online community, as well as be able to network with folks that have had experience at companies such as Valve and HTC. It was at Dev Days that I met the first person to have already known who I was and what Talaria was prior to us meeting; that was very exciting!
A few weeks later, I returned to Seattle to receive my training and certification from Valve to design tracked objects for their virtual reality motion capture system, colloquially referred to as “Lighthouse”. I began blogging about this experience, and the development community really seemed to appreciate the work I was documenting. This licensure has helped me be taken more seriously by other developers and companies, as well as given me an experience as to how professional companies operate in this development space.
Still continuing on with development, more recently now, we were offered the opportunity to bring our hardware and exhibit it at Unity’s Vision Summit 2017, again in Hollywood, CA. This happened at the beginning of May, and having the chance to be set up in a booth alongside huge names like Microsoft and Google was amazing for us. I was able to give a 30 minute talk on hardware development, after which multiple devs came up to me seeking advice. And on the showroom floor, we had many people come and try out / talk with us about our hardware; quite a few of which from rather notable companies, such as HTC and Disney. Following the conference itself, we took a trip up to Pasadena to receive a tour of NASA JPL, following up with my contact from last year’s Summit. Beyond that, we returned to Seattle and had a chance to discuss our hardware with Valve and receive their input on our development.
Finally, looking forward, we have plans to return once more to Seattle and demo our further iterated hardware to Valve and HTC. I am very much looking forward to what the future will bring!!
This experience has opened my eyes to the importance of self-motivation and pursuing passions in life. I think that the most valuable aspect that I’m learning from this process is how unnecessary continuing my college education is at this point. I’ve proven that I don’t need formal coursework to learn high-level concepts, and I certainly don’t need a degree to make it in this industry. I need creativity and drive, and I’ve definitely found that through working in the field of virtual reality. So while I may be halting my college education, I think this discovery process has taught me a lot about myself and offered me a chance to take a step back from what is considered conventional, and allow me to pursue what really matters to me an fulfills me in life.
For more information and continued posts on our hardware’s development, feel free to read up on my blog at www.talariavr.com/blog.
Peter S. Hollander