Saudi technology experts bring futuristic AI technology closer to reality

Saudi technology experts bring futuristic AI technology closer to reality

RIYADH – Saudi tech experts put the latest developments in artificial intelligence in the hands of gamers attending a major international festival in the kingdom.

The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) has partnered with the Saudi Esports Federation for the Gamers8 event to be held in Riyadh to showcase the latest advances in augmented and virtual reality technologies.

And Ahmed Abdulrahman, head of the immersive lab in Ithra’s Creative Solutions program, believes the futuristic AI seen in many of today’s sci-fi movies could be publicly available within five to 10 years.


Inside the GameDev Zone is full of eager and curious Saudis who want to try the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Riyadh. (supplied)

Technologies showcased at the festival not only focus on gaming, but also on interactive and immersive experiences, entertainment and learning.

Abdulrahman pointed out that the sort of VR gadgets seen in Steven Spielberg’s 2018 adventure film Ready Player One are now readily available. Ithra even had a haptic Teslasuit and glove (technology that can create a touch experience by applying forces, vibrations, and movement to the user) for members of the public to test.

QUICKLYFACTS

• One of Ithra’s winning projects, The Anticipation of Rain, lets people feel rain by wearing a VR headset.

• Ithra even had a haptic Teslasuit and glove (technology that can create a touch experience by applying forces, vibrations, and movement to the user) for members of the public to test.

“We can put people in some games that use all the technology together, where they can walk around and feel every hit in the game. It’s full immersion. It’s not 2045, it’s 2022,” he told Arab News.


Inside the GameDev Zone is full of eager and curious Saudis who want to try the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in Riyadh. (supplied)

Located in Riyadh Boulevard City, where Gamers8 is in full swing, Creative Solutions’ GameDev Zone features prototypes of games developed in 72 hours or less, as well as the five previous winning designs from the program cohorts, as well as internationally developed video games.

Although the available VR experiences are not fully featured, they still allow visitors to get an overview of the immersive stories.

One of the Ithra winners’ projects, The Anticipation of Rain, lets people feel rain by wearing a VR headset. The developer, Naima Karim, tells how she became paralyzed at a young age but discovered her love for painting through the influence of rain. “There were so many people who were moved that they just took off their headphones to cry,” said Abdulrahman.

Other AR projects take users on a journey through the history of the universe or on a mission to find hidden objects, similar to the mobile game Pokemon GO.


The main entrance to Ithra’s Creative Solutions GameDev Zone in partnership with the world’s largest esports festival, Gamers8, in Riyadh Boulevard City. (supplied)

Alongside the booths of the zone’s five winners is a selection of internationally developed game programs including The Climb 2, Loco Dojo, Beat Saber and a PS5 game room.

Filipe Gomez, Creative Solutions program curator, told Arab News: “There are developers who are pointing to a future where there will be no screens. Everything is projected.”

Amr Bogari, a concept artist and AI enthusiast, said: “This reflects a good mental picture over time and is expected by our government as it is a great supporter of this development and progress that is moving humanity forward.

“But in general it depends on a person’s use. The abundance of technology can reduce the spiritual aspect, and this applies to many examples. Our role is to create a temperate space that combines reality and assumption.”

Speaking on the GameDev Zone, Gomez said, “The public engagement has been incredible. To me, it really reflects the eagerness to learn, develop and be ready. The creativity is there.”

The Ithra program team aims to create unique experiences that people from all backgrounds can enjoy.

Abdulrahman said: “They are all proud. That’s the only word I can say. Anyone who tries them is just amazed at the quality of the work when they see them, even though we call them prototypes.”

And the goal of the program was to establish Saudi Arabia as the premier immersive hub in the region and possibly the world.

“It depends on us and stakeholders like Ithra driving a specific agenda that really cares about how people will be affected by this transformation to prepare them to be good decision makers. When it comes to creative solutions, they create humanistic solutions,” Gomez added.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.