Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you have probably noticed there’s a serious case of “Mars Mania” going around right now. The current fever was only stoked higher last week when Elon Musk presented his plan to establish a permanent human habitation on Mars with his company SpaceX.

ICYMI Here’s a short 5 minute summary version…

Here’s the full hour plus long version…

We here at Digital-Den are good with all of this. In fact, we’re so good with it, one way we “boot-up” our demos is with entirely Mars related media. That’s because Digital-Den’s Founder (Mary Hopper), has been Mars obsessed ever since the Mars Viking Mission.

So, it was awesome to get the chance to attend the very special event Moving to Mars: A discussion with Mars One candidates at the Museum of Science on Wednesday evening.


Mars One mission candidates: Josh Richards, physicist, engineer, comedian; Peter Degen-Portnoy, software engineer; Yari Golden-Castaño, systems engineer; R. Daniel Golden-Castaño, US Army veteran and engineering student;Sara Director, artist

The event turned out to be a mind-bending, inspirational encounter with the “real thing,” and it only further solidified the probability that Digital-Den will continue to feature tons of Mars related content in our demos and “possibly” do more than that, too.

More specifically, we has been exploring the possibility of working with one or more partners on a Mars related project or “maybe” even doing one of our own. Of course, no matter what, we keep our eyes on what is going on in this “space” right now (yes, ha ha, bad pun intended).

Seriously, there’s quite a lot going on. Each new VR hardware platform release or upgrade brings one or more Mars related demos or titles now as well as the promise of more in the near future.

For example, at the lowest and most accessible end are these 360° NASA videos.

Full-Circle Panorama Beside ‘Namib Dune’ on Mars (JPL/NASA)
NASA Releases 360-Degree Video Of Martian Surface (Emily Calandrelli, Tech Crunch)

Then, higher-up on the “presence” scale, there is Mars is a Real Place. It was one of the first paid apps released on the Samsung Gear VR store, and it was made by DrashVR who is the same guy who made Titans of Space. The title and this information alone should be enough of a recommendation, but just in case, it is worth noting that it actually works — it feels like you are really on Mars, and yes, it is stunning!

A bit different take on the question is Field Trip to Mars created by Framestore and backed by Lockheed Martin.

Yet further out on the scale of immersion, as well as a bit more of a journey, is the mixed reality Destination: Mars exhibit at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida that uses Microsoft Hololens to give a narrated tour for Earthling through a Martian landscape.
‘Destination: Mars’ Virtual Reality Experience Now Open at Kennedy Space Center (Sarah Lewin,

Another title to look forward to on the near horizon is called Mars 2030 that is being done in cooperation with NASA using their own media and is expected to be released on multiple platforms sometime this year.

These are just a few examples — there are numerous others on the scope. Busy space! Still, it is a worthy place to be, and we intend to be there too. Watch for more news about Digital-Den’s work in this area soon…

Hub Weeked!

Last week was HubWeek in Boston, and it turned great (despite some lousy weather)! Here are just some of the most relevant highlights…


The festivities kicked off for Digital-Den on Sunday September 25 at the Harvard Art Museum with the insightful panel discussion Museum as Teaching Lab: Experiments in Inclusive Design.


Then after a quiet Monday, things got into full swing on Tuesday morning with a visit to MIT to see the Mass Historical Society sponsored event History and Future of Mass Innovation. The title of this one promised to hit upon some key themes behind Digital-Den’s work, and the panel’s number of interesting and sometimes unexpected insights. The event was videotaped, so hopefully that will be posted sometime soon.


Then on Wednesday Digital-Den spent the afternoon at Harvard’s Innovation Lab (iLab) sharing our AR & VR demos with the large, high-energy crowd attending their HubWeek event A Cross-disciplinary Exploration of the Emerging Worlds of Virtual and Augmented Reality. We were just one of over 30 ventures that shared the exhibition floor, and this was by far the biggest and most inclusive event representing Boston’s AR/VR eco-system to date. It was impressive and a ton of fun to see everyone in one place at the same time.


Those were just some of the biggest highlights of a fantastic week. Then finally, the week ended for us on Saturday with us taking our demos to Gilded Fest which was billed as a “Festival of Music, Technology, and Innovation,” and it was held at Lawn on D beside the Boston Convention Center. While this event was not technically billed as a HubWeek event, and the weather wasn’t particularly cooperative, that didn’t stop us from sharing our demos nor getting a sneak peak of Harmonix’s Music VR for PlayStationVR that isn’t going to be officially released until October 13th.


Yep, that was certainly a high note to end on! 🙂

Busy week!

Next week is HUBweek in Boston, and it is going to be an exciting and busy time!.

You will be able to find Digital-Den doing demos here…
A Cross-disciplinary Exploration of Emerging Worlds of VR & AR
Hosted by Harvard Innovation Lab (i-Lab) as part of the HUBWeek Festival
Wednesday, September 28th. 1:00 – 5:00 pm

We will also be doing some demos here too…
Gilded Fest: Festival of Music, Technology, and Innovation
Held at the Lawn on D
Saturday, October 1st, 10 am – 10:00 pm

Stop by and check out our latest fun toys and content!

Demos & Drinks

Digital-Den had the pleasure of participating in a particularly cool event last Thursday evening when we joined a number of other companies at Tech-in-Motion’s Immersive Tech: Demos and Drinks hosted by Fragomen in downtown Boston. The event featured a particularly nice range of home-grown immersive technology beyond our own low to mid-range VR demos.

Some highlights included Sam Fisher of Audio Fusion showing his Virtual Analog Studio on a Vive, Mike Quan and Robert “Bob” Hughes of Boston360video explaining their 360 degree cameras while Seth Mantye and Calvin J. Moisan of Eagre Games (founded by Myst co-creator Chuck Carter) gave a preview of ZED, an adventure puzzle game set inside the dreams of a dying man. Of course, one of the most popular demos turned out to be Robert Moore of VR Motion Labs giving attendees the chance to try out their 2DOF motion control platform running a sophisticated race simulation. Fun time!

Find out more about the event on Tech-in-Motion’s Facebook and Meetup pages…

Immersive Tech: Demos and Drinks

Thursday, Jul 28, 2016, 6:00 PM

100 High Street Boston, MA

458 Technologists Went

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are poised for rapid growth and Tech in Motion Boston is excited to showcase companies that are revolutionizing this sector of the tech industry! Join us Thursday, July 28th at Fragomen’s Headquarters for our classic Demos & Drinks event – Immersive Tech edition! There is no formal agenda for this eve…

Check out this Meetup →

VR Blitz

We are now into what is being dubbed “The Summer of VR,” and it is off to a busy start.

It kicked-off with that visit to the Technology Show & Tell of the North Shore T.E.C.H. Meetup back on May 25th.


Then on June 8th there was a day trip to New York to attend the NYC VR University Unity Developer Group Meetup’s VRmicro Summit at the NYU Game Center.

It was was pouring down rain most of the day, but that didn’t prevent a quick jaunt up to catch a Hololens demo at Microsoft’s Flagship store.

That visit didn’t actually turn out “quite” as expected, but it did lead to what might be another excellent adventure in the not-too-distant future.

The VRmicroSummit itself turned out to an informative event.


Wednesday, Jun 8, 2016, 6:15 PM

Location details are available to members only.

70 Badasses Went

VRmicroSummit – June 8th – NYU Game CenterNo need for plane tickets, hotels, or even the sacrifice of a weekend. Get yourself caught up in the latest VR/AR production techniques with these exciting educational workshops for all ages led by nyc’s top Certified Unity® Developers.VR, AR, 360, Fame, Fortune, Knowledge, Community, Cookies, and Unity®…

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Lex Dreitser and his crew gave a series of very enthusiastic presentations.

Of course, being the computer history buff that I am, it didn’t hurt that the event was hosted at NYU Game Center’s library full of vintage computer games.

Once all the rain cleared out, the view’s weren’t bad either.


The next stop on the VR blitz was exhibiting at an Edtech Product Showcase at the Deshpande Symposium for Higher Ed that was hosted at the Innovation Hub of the University of Massachusetts – Lowell on June 13th. It was a fun time where we got to introduce the power and importance of VR to a wide range of Higher-Ed. decision makers and thought leaders from around the country.


360-degree picture taken by Neil Carlson using Cardboard

Finally, last but not least, there was a stop to catch the “Google I/O Recap – Lightning Talks” sponsored by Google Developer’s Group Boston Meetup and hosted at Kayak that is located right down the street at Cambridge’s own Galleria Mall.


Google I/O Recap – Lightning Talks!

Tuesday, Jun 14, 2016, 6:30 PM

10 canal park Cambridge, MA

173 Members Went

Hi folks!I’m delighted to announce that we have 9 great talks about what our developer community is most passionate about planned for Tuesday 6/14. Our roster includes three developer authors.Here’s a short summary of what is in store:Adam Stroud: He will give a talk about Espresso testing. He was the Android lead at RunKeeper and authored the b…

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The highlight of the evening was Jonathan Linowes’ talk about Google VR Strategy.

The good news is that he even, very kindly, posted his slides.

Whew! Busy, busy! But, it is the best kind of busy to be, and there’s a lot more coming up. Below are two public events where you can catch us in July, and stay tuned for more…

Monday, July 18th, 9-11 am Teacher and Edtech Product Summit Discovery Day
Building Learning Communities Education Conference 2016
Terrace Room, Park Plaza Hotel, 50 Park Plaza at Arlington Street, Boston

Thursday, July 28, 6-8 pm, Immersive Tech: Demos and Drinks
Tech in Motion Meetup, Fragomen, 100 High Street, Boston

Immersive Tech: Demos and Drinks

Thursday, Jul 28, 2016, 6:00 PM

100 High Street Boston, MA

45 Technologists Attending

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are poised for rapid growth and Tech in Motion Boston is excited to showcase companies that are revolutionizing this sector of the tech industry! Join us Thursday, July 28th at Fragomen’s Headquarters for our classic Demos & Drinks event – Immersive Tech edition! There is no formal agenda for this eve…

Check out this Meetup →

North Shore TECH

Digital-Den had a wonderful time sharing our Mars & Space related 3D & VR demos with members of the North Shore T.E.C.H. Meetup at their Spring Technology Show & Tell on Wednesday, May 25th. We’re looking forward to visiting future Meetups!


Technology Show & Tell

Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 7:00 PM

Beverly Public Library
32 Essex Street Beverly, MA

19 Local TECHies Went

Come join us for four lightning talks and presentations in our monthly one-hour mini-conference!From 7 to 8, the floor is open for anyone to come talk about or present on something they find interesting.  Want to show off your latest startup?  How about a fun project you are working on the side?  Just want to convince everyone to start investing i…

Check out this Meetup →

Perfect event!

Over the last few years Digital Den has participated in many technology oriented “Meetups”, and most of them have involved giving demos with a variety of levels of formality and “billing.” Alas, participating in them has fallen off because real ROI was just not there “most” of the time. That is why it was such a pleasure to attend the Boston Unity Group (B.U.G.) Meetup held at Akamai Thursday evening (May 5th). It turned out to be an exceptional event that struck the perfect balance of opportunities for socializing, demos and feedback. It was the best Meetup that I’ve been to recently (yes, including my own I must admit with chagrin)! It was a wonderful experience and a valuable model of how to run a fun, worthwhile event. Thanks to Elliott Mitchell for organizing it. Bravo, well done!

Demo Night!

Thursday, May 5, 2016, 6:30 PM

150 Broadway Cambridge, MA

73 Members Went

May Demo Night!Hi BUG,  This month we’ll be hosting a demo night!  Got a game you want to put in front of people?  Want feedback on a tough problem you’ve been working on?  Want to see what other local developers are cooking up?  Still wiped out from PAX and just want to hang out and eat pizza?  Stop on by at Akamai!We’ve also solidified our sch…

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Coming soon…

It’s been looking pretty quiet lately, but looks can be deceptive. Sometimes when it looks the quietest is when the most is going on behind the scenes. This is one of those times.

It is too early to share details, but watch for news about these things soon!
♦ Public events with VR demos in May and June.
♦ A new version of an old project will be released in June.
♦ Then there is that “real life” move that is in progress…

Please stay tuned… -Mary


Digital Den was represented at the March installment of the Boston Unreal Meetup.

March Unreal Meetup featuring Eagre Games

Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016, 7:00 PM

Jacob Wirth Restaurant
31 Stuart Street Boston, MA

36 UE4 enthusiasts Went

Please join us March 22nd in welcoming Eagre Games, an independent UE4 studio out of Orono, Maine headed by Chuck Carter, veteran artist behind Myst, Command & Conquer, C&C: Red Alert, and 20-something other titles.Eagre Games will be exhibiting the progress on their first title, “ZED,” an artistic masterpiece that takes players on an immersive f…

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It was a pleasure to meet the guest of honor, Chuck Carter. He is currently the head of Eagre Games as well as a veteran artist who worked on Myst, Command & Conquer, C&C: Red Alert, and 20-something other titles. (I even remembered to take pictures this time).

It was particularly awesome, and somewhat surreal, to see Chuck’s demo of his new game Zed! The fact it’s a relative of Myst was more than apparent. He’s going to be launching a Kickstarter to support Zed’s development. That’s something to keep an eye on for sure. Check out this trailer!


To Unreal or not to Unreal? That is the question.

The question as to whether or not to add Epic’s Unreal game engine to Digital Den’s tool belt has been hanging in the air for quite awhile now. Picking up a new platform is a serious time sink, so when you’ve already got one that’s working fine for you (Unity 3D), the decision to pick up another one is a hurdle. However, by most accounts Unreal has some significant advantages for making 3D and VR spaces, so adding or switching to it is not to be dismissed lightly.

That is why regular trips to the local Unreal Meetup at Boston’s Jacob Wirth pub are a fixture on the calendar. Well, that, and also the location and company aren’t bad either.

Unreal Engine “Brewprints” Meetup and Workshop

Tuesday, Feb 23, 2016, 7:00 PM

Jacob Wirth Restaurant
31 Stuart Street Boston, MA

32 UE4 enthusiasts Went

We had a very exciting Meetup last month and are looking to continue the fun by introducing “Brewprints” – the best way to combine Blueprints and brews. Got a project you’re working on? Need help? Bring your Blueprints in, and let’s workshop them together over some delicious brews.Got no Blueprints? Come for the brews! As always, if anyone wants t…

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This week’s visit included the usual few rounds of beverages and interesting conversations. Here’s a picture of Seth, the organizer, addressing the happy crowd.

2016-02-23 20.51.57

Enter a caption

This time may have the tipping point, because it included Seth providing a pointer to this intriguing and persuasive demo of authoring in VR.

Apparently there will be more information available after GDC (March 14 & 15).

We’re definitely staying tuned!