AWE 2023 Pt. 2: What We Saw in the Expo Hall with Friends!

Cause + Christi explore the expo hall and see friends at AWE 2023

AWE 2023 Pt. 2: What We Saw in the Expo Hall with Friends!

In addition to getting on stage for our panel Meet The Makers and the Auggie Awards (see more in our AWE 2023 Pt. 1 post here ), we also had a great time reconnecting with friends from the XR industry and exploring the expo hall! In the expo hall, we tried out the Lenovo Thinkreality VRX headset, Varjo XR3, HTC Vive XR Elite, Magic Leap 2, the BHaptics suit, and did an interview with Maxwell McGee for the Virtual World Society podcast!

See AWE 2023 Part 1: What We Did On Stage »

Pre-AWE: A quick visit to San Francisco!

But first, let’s back up for just a second. We started our trip with a visit to San Francisco where we met up with local AltspaceVR friends Rebecca Evans and Robear. They showed us around the city, including a visit to the Japanese Tea Garden, the Palace of Fine Arts and then the ILM Campus (where we saw the Yoda statue!)

Next, we headed down to the San Jose area to check-in and visited Julia Scott at Santa Clara University. She gave us a tour of their Brain & Memory Care VR lab.

We saw a number of fascinating student projects on display for demo, including Mandala Flow State – a neurofeedback virtual reality experience that Cause tried out in the picture above!

AWE Day 1

On Wednesday, AWE officially kicked off and we all gathered for Ori Inbar’s opening speech, which included a fun skit with his AI hologram digital twin! Next, author Neal Stephenson (who coined the term “metaverse” in his 1992 novel Snowcrash) joined him on stage!

Neal Stephenson signed our books!

Neal was on the move, so we are so grateful he stopped to sign them for us!

Thanks Chris Madsen for surprising us with a candid photo! 🙂

We are fans of Neal Stephenson, enjoying his novels such as Snowcrash, Cryptonomicon and Diamond Age.

Most AWE attendees are familiar with Snowcrash, which explores VR as an interconnected Metaverse; high fidelity avatars; AI-assisted data organization; linguistics; and intriguing thoughts on ancient culture. Meanwhile, our hero, Hiro Protagonist, encounters and investigates Snow Crash, a neural-linguistic virus. It is a thought-provoking novel, and we also think it would be fun to model out the Black Sun sometime!

But further, Christi has been inspired by the personalized learning depicted in Diamond Age via the illustrated “Primer”, a responsive book that falls into the hands of young girl from a disenfranchised area. Personalized learning is becoming more possible with AI advancements. The question is: who will develop this future responsibly?

After this we attended a few sessions, including the Metatr@versal updates on portal interoperability, where we heard from Ben Erwin, Terry Schuzzler and Evo Heynning. This was followed by an insightful OpenXR workshop from the Khronos Group.

AWE Day 2

On Day 2 we celebrated the XR Women Awards at the main stage! This years winners honored: Deirdre V. Lyons for the Innovation award, Athena Demos for the Trainblazer Award & Paige Dansinger for the Real World Impact Award.

Just after we found a seat, Cara Mandel found us and gave us a hug. This was our first time meeting Cara in person! She previously worked for the late AltspaceVR and would often visit us in our virtual worlds as we prepped for events.

Cara was even responsible for helping to organize our first ever use of holoportation in AltspaceVR, when Guy Laliberté (co-founder of Cirque du Soleil) was volumetrically beamed in for a live DJ set in a world we worked with his team to build.

Later in the day, we participated in our AWE Panel: Meet The Makers! Then we got on stage again with Big Rock Creative for the Auggie Awards!

Read more about our AWE panel + the Auggies here.

For the rest of AWE, we were off to the races, ready to play in the Expo hall!

While roaming around, we ran into Maxwell McGee, host of the Virtual World Society podcast. He interviewed us for inclusion in Episode 29: AWE Live Interviews! This episode also includes interviews from:

Listen to our interview in the Virtual World Society podcast »

AWE EXPO Hall Day 2 & Day 3

For the rest of Day 2 and most of Day 3 (our last day of AWE!), we spent a lot of time in the Expo Hall! Our highlights included:

Lenovo ThinkReality VRX

We enjoyed the comfortability and quality of the Lenovo ThinkReality VRX. This wireless headset offers both fully immersive virtual reality and Mixed Reality. With the tap of a handy button, you can easily switch between VR immersion or full-color HD pass-through, seeing your surroundings without lifting the headset. Furthermore, the battery sits at the back of your head for a nice center of balance, helping to avoid undue forehead / neck strain. This attention to comfort was important to Christi who not only lives with scoliosis but looks forward to developing therapeutic XR experiences. Finally, vents inside the headset provide cooling so you don’t get too sweaty in your adventures!

The Lenovo ThinkReality VRX features pancake lenses and a resolution of 2280 x 2280 per eye (compare to the Meta Quest Pro’s resolution at 1800 x 1920 pixels per eye). All in all, we were impressed! We thought it was the most comfortable one we tried, and Christi made sure to mention this to everyone we saw, including Skarredghost who went to check it out and came to the same conclusion in his post here!).

Varjo XR3

The Varjo XR3 is a wired headset with impressive graphics! We tried out the photorealistic mixed reality features of the Varjo by playing mechanic and pulling apart an airplane turbine!


The XReal glasses were extremely lightweight and a comfortable way to view augmented reality. Weighing only 79g, these consumer AR glasses may help AR further penetrate the market by providing an easy to carry and wear option.


Cause got into the BHaptics suit!

Magic Leap 2 & the FigminXR app

It was super fun to collaboratively draw in mixed reality using the FigminXR app on the Magic Leap 2.

HTC Vive XR Elite & BRCvr

We always enjoy stopping by our friends BRCvr‘s booth! We hopped into the HTC Vive XR Elite and saw the latest virtual playa! BRCvr features a 3D playa with 360 and 180 stereoscopic bubbles, which we helped the team capture during Burning Man 2022 alongside Hugh Hou and Keeley Turner!

Fluid Reality

One of the most inspiring things we saw at AWE was Fluid Reality. Their setup was a pure tech demo of a new compact actuator technology they have developed for precision haptics. It can translate the sensation of fine detail shapes / patterns to your fingertips like pixels on a screen.

A shoutout to all the friends we saw along the way! Here are some friendly faces of AWE 2023!:

This was Part 2 of 2 AWE 2023 posts.

If you missed it, see more about this year’s AWE in our first post below:

On stage at AWE 2023 for Meet the Makers + the Auggies

See our AWE 2023 Part 1: What We Did On Stage post »

AWE 2023 was our third year attending. You can see posts from our previous years below:

On stage at AWE 2022 for MetaTr@versal

See more from last year’s AWE 2022 »

On stage at AWE 2021 for a live WebAR demo

See more from AWE 2021 »