In recent years, one of my favorite hobbies has been following the evolution of virtual reality (VR) from a geeky thought experiment into a truly breakthrough technology. With the development of new consumer offerings such as Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard, VR has the potential to “go mainstream” and forever change the way we interact with digital media.
But as revolutionary as VR may be, there is one challenge that will remain just as difficult in an immersive “out-of-world” experience: Sifting through the endless amount of information and entertainment options afforded to us by digital media, an area our team at Taboola has been working on for the past eight years.
This past weekend was one of the largest hackathons in America called LA Hacks, taking place once a year and including ~1,000 super smart students from UCLA, Berkeley, MIT, and other top programs.
I was fortunate to deliver a keynote where I talked about innovation, and I thought no moment would be better than the present to tap into some of today’s brightest young minds for a “Taboola Challenge” based around one of the next big trends that will disrupt the digital media industry.
Our surprise: our first virtual reality challenge.
Here it goes — Yesterday, during my closing keynote presentation at LA Hacks, I had a surprise announcement for the 1000+ student-hackers in the audience: the launch of our first-ever Taboola Virtual Reality Challenge!
Similar to the “Netflix Prize,” our competition will solicit entries from LA Hacks students to re-imagine what personalized video discovery might look like in a completely new, immersive, 3D-driven world. Participants will be able to build and showcase a working prototype of their innovation using our Taboola API, aggregating and displaying videos from Taboola’s premium publisher partners.
The winners will receive not only bragging rights, but a week-long trip to Tel Aviv to work with our world-class R&D team, a committed internship at the Taboola LA office, and a brand new Oculus Rift to test-drive their own Taboola VR experience!
It’s only a matter of time before our day-to-day digital media habits move beyond the screen and into new immersive realms that are more natural and intuitive to navigate. We’re very excited to launch this next chapter in the Taboola story and see what innovative ideas these students have for a “fully personalized” future.
You can check out the challenge these students will be facing on our Taboola VR Challenge microsite here.
They have 14 days to finalize the app… stay tuned!