Samantha Kingston – Virtual Umbrella Talk

For notes on the talk, see Lectures/Crits/Notes book, green tag labelled Sammie Kingston, pages 81 – 82.

Today we had Samantha Kingston from the company, Virtual Umbrella, come to talk to us. She told us about her journey and how she’s arrived at her own company of 4, soon to be 6 at the age of 26. It was really interesting to hear from someone similar to our age and how she managed to get to where she is today. She offered so much friendly, down to earth advice for leaving university and starting off in the big wide world and I feel she filled a lot of us with confidence.

I’ve personally not really had much contact with VR before, apart from that one time I tried out the Vive and played the Ikea walkthrough (never again…) but hearing from someone who has so much experience already with it was inspiring. Samantha spoke about Social VR becoming a big thing which was an area which I think we all found intriguing. There’s a stigma that games are becoming anti-social, and considering VR blocks everyone out, there’s no doubt VR will get more stick as the years go on. Yet thinking about how people can socialise through VR is pretty damn cool and something that I am interested in looking into further.

One thing she mentioned which I thought was really intriguing was how when she gets people to test VR headsets, some people become really freaked out (I’m one of those people). Yet instead of doing the instinctive thing of closing their eyes, they just freak and seem to lose all function of their own body. This made me think about the Psychology behind this. Horror films and games are, personally, making people become desensitised to some aspects of horror yet when put into immersive VR, even the slightest of horror elements such as sound can freak people out instantly. I’d be really interested into looking more into the idea of Psychology and Virtual reality – it could be an idea to do this for my reflective journal next semester?

Samantha also went on to talk about ‘how to make technology beneficial’ where she spoke about Medical Realities where Doctors use VR to train themselves on how to carry out operations and such. I thought this was incredible as it gives hands-on experience to the trainees without any ethical issues that would come with practising on real subjects. It opens up for practice and improving precision etc. It will be amazing to see how VR could help more in the field of the sciences – imagine if you could somehow link swimming capsules in a blood stream to a VR so that Doctors could find blockages, cancer cells etc? They probably can already do things like this but this is something that I’d definitely like to look into more.

Overall, the talk Samantha Kingston gave was brilliant and got me excited and interested in learning more about Virtual Reality and where it’s headed in the next few years. 

#Note to self, check out VR Girls UK

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