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Most Important Events from 2010 – 2019 – Did VR Breakthrough?  by John Balash

In reflection of the last decade there have been many events to be thankful for and to take note of. To ring in the new year this month I will focus on ten important events from 2010 through 2020. Note, this will be a more personal piece with perhaps some overlaps with our readers.

In 2010 I applied to Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center in search of a graduate degree. Hearing my acceptance, I had to hang up my formal education boots for the time being. After developing an entire program for over half a decade at the school I was at, it wasn’t an easy choice to move on. CMU’s ETC is celebrating 20 years strong.

Not a year into the program I was strapped into an Oculus Rift DK1 (Development Kit 1). I have to admit, what I experienced was quite different than the VR that we have today. In fact, it made me nauseous! That being said, it certainly paved the way for VR 2.0.  

2013 should ring a few bells if you’re reading this on the DD website. An adventure to Santa Monica spurred on by the courage and inspiration of Seth and Laurie to dream up Digital Dragon. The rest is history!

Back across the continent in MA, Boston Dynamics in 2014 made waves with their agile robot “Atlas.” Sci-Fi fans rejoice as this humanoid robot navigates tough terrain. One bigger question in advanced robotics / manufacturing is what role will they play in our economy?  

Magic Leap raked in well over a billion dollars in investment to create an augmented reality headset in 2015. Five years later, the unicorn hasn’t delivered. I still firmly believe that augmented reality is a game changer, but we’ll just have to wait.  

2016 was out of this world…and back again with SpaceX and their reusable rockets. Worth watching is NASA’s recently released YouTube video on Artemus  This year also saw the launch of Pokemon GO – which at least got us exploring our world!  

2017 brought us the Nintendo Switch. I see this as the natural evolution of Nintendo’s progressive consoles. From the revolutionary Wii, to the bizarre Wii U, Switch combines the best of both consoles and adds more. Also, the titles — From Golf Story, to Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and so many others.  

The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh opened a new expansion to their campus in 2019 via the MuseumLab. This established the museum’s campus as the largest campus for children in the US. With the hard work and vision of a number of partners, you can visit it 7 days a week and even explore the technology of the ETC.  

2020 is off to a great start and from my view sees a number of advances – especially in augmented reality. More to follow as details emerge!

TLDR; Technological advances are always going to happen. It’s how they make an impression on us that create lasting memories and further innovation. I am thankful for the past decade and for all those involved in shaping the work I am able to do now.

John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education.This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.