Nigeria’s first ever Virtual Reality (VR) hackathon took place a few weeks ago. 5 teams of young VR enthusiasts (developers, 3D animators, graphic designers and even students) came together to participate in the event.
The hackathon was organised by VR creation lab, Imisi 3D, and was hosted on the 6th floor of the Co-Creation Hub in Yaba, Lagos. The contestants were tasked with the challenge of creating solutions in education, healthcare and tourism for the Samsung Gear VR.
The approach to the hackathon was a bit different from what we are normally used to. Imisi 3D’s founder, Judith Okonkwo explained that teams were formed 2 months before the hackathon to “give the teams the best chance of success, particularly as we were all so new to VR content creation.” The teams were able to get together and start working on their VR development skills using VR ready computers, Gear VRs and mobile devices, 360° Cameras and Leap Motions provided by Imisi 3D in partnership with Facebook, Samsung and the Virtual World Society.
Team LeVRn (pronounced “learn”) – an app that teaches you how to code – made up of our own, Osarumen Osamuyi, Timi Ajiboye, Tade Ajiboye, Olumide Olajide, and Abdulmalik Abdulwahab
Team GoThere, an app that allows you to experience locations in Nigeria before visiting; Team Life Race, a gamified learning experience that explains human conception; Team Farm VR, an app that teaches extension workers (these are technical people that teach farmers new agricultural practices) how to deal with farm pests in local languages; and Team 3D6, a retail VR app for virtual shopping, make up the remaining four teams that competed in the hackathon.
They were judged by Bosun Tijani, the CEO of CcHub, Rasheed Olaoluwa, the former CEO/MD of the Bank of Industry, and Bankole Alao, the Innovation Lead at Ericsson. Bunmi Otegbade, the CEO of Generation Enterprise, anchored the event. Bosun Tijani reminded those present that the renaissance in Nigeria’s tech sector was driven by the first hackathon in 2010 and that the VR hackathon may prove to be the catalyst for the virtual reality industry as well.
The teams will now refine their products with support from Imisi 3D and their fully developed VR experiences should be deployed to the Oculus store by the end of this year. Judith Okonkwo says that “the goal of the hackathon was always twofold, an event to inspire innovative creation for virtual reality and a first step to making Nigerian VR experiences available to the world. The Oculus store and Samsung Gear VR provide this opportunity in a way very few HMDs can match. With over 6 million Gear VRs in use globally this is a direct window to the world.”
Team LeVRn member, Osarumen, who went from naysayer to creator in just 5 months, says “Many thanks to the sponsors. Most of our joy has come from creating something that will hopefully make a difference in the way people levrn (lol) new technical skills. More so, from creating a tool to let everyone else build out applications and find new use cases for the marriage between a Leap Motion sensor and a Gear VR headset. I expect that the latter, especially, will do a lot to put Nigeria on the global VR heat map.”