Since 2018, Deutsche Telekom has been a festival partner and main sponsor of VRHAM! A large part of the artistic programme of this year’s festival can be experienced via the Magenta VR App. As of today, new exclusive VRHAM! curated content is available in the Magenta VR App. A conversation with Wolfgang Groening, Vice President XR + Immersion at Telekom, about art, immersive worlds and accessibility.
VRHAM! With Magenta VR and the connected app, you’ve created spaces for new art and entertainment worlds at an early stage. For the VRHAM! Festival in Hamburg you are an important partner also in terms of distribution. What potential do you currently see in virtual art?
WOLFGANG GROENING: It is exciting and impressive to see how open and innovative artists deal with technology, how they use it and explore its possibilities. In this way they create something completely new and combine analog and virtual sensory impressions. Ultimately, we all benefit from inspiring, which is why we have been festival partners of the VRHAM! for many years. It is the first festival in the world that exclusively shows virtual art. With our Magenta VR app, interested people all over Germany can experience many of the audiovisual VR works of art, 360°-films and virtual experiences at home. The app is available free of charge for smartphones in the Apple App Store and in the Google Play Store.
V!: The pandemic has restricted the reality of our lives, but promoted a digital and networked way of working. Was the past year a technology accelerator and how did you position yourself specifically? Are there new products and places for experiencing virtual worlds?
WG: We all experienced how quickly we had to convert work processes digitally. This necessity has given rise to new demands and desires for technologies. I also think there is greater public interest in technology and innovation. For Deutsche Telekom, innovation is a strong focus. XR, VR, AR and MR are areas that we have been promoting for many years – including with our tech incubator hubraum. For example, the first mixed reality glasses, Nreal Light, have been available in Europe since this year. We made decisive progress in developing these MR glasses in a technology partnership with Nreal. In the future, Nreal Light will offer a broad public the opportunity to perceive our reality in an expanded manner, especially in the area of AR.
V!: You once said that Deutsche Telekom would like to help bring innovations to the mass market. How important is accessibility and digital participation for you?
WG: Our goal is to technically expand and enrich possibilities and that can only be implemented if technologies are also accepted by the market. They can only be established in the long term if they are accessible and usable to the public. Technology and content must be made for people. With the combination of virtual art and direct access via the Magenta VR app, we are contributing to unlimited participation in the art sector.