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On March 30, 2011, Google announced that it would bring its new high-speed fiberoptic network to Kansas City, Kan. Residents and businesses would be able to connect at a speed of 1 gigabit per second, 100 times faster than the average American's connection speed. In May 2011, the company announced that the service would be extended to Kansas City, Mo., as well. On July 26, 2012, Google announced that it would launch a television service along with the internet service. The announcement marked a six-week rally during which interested people can pre-register for Google's services. The next big date is Sept. 9, 2012, at which point the pre-registration period is over, and Kansas Citians who've secured the service can begin to schedule installations.

Hackathon Invites Play With Augmented Reality Beyond Pokémon Go

Lisa Rodriguez
KCUR 89.3
Mahlet Yeshitla tests a virtual reality program developed by a team at Kansas City Virtual Reality group's hackathon on Saturday.

To an observer, Mahlet Yeshitla is sitting in a chair with a large headset covering most of her face, waving her arms at the empty space in front of her.

But from her perspective, she's using cubes to create building blocks.

“It does feel like you’re in a room, at a table, just building things,” Yeshitla said.

Yeshitla was testing out a game created by a team at the Kansas City Virtual Reality group’s first Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality hackathon. The event was sponsored by Oculus, Mozilla Foundation, and Pulse Design Group

Participants formed teams on Friday night had until Sunday to create an app or game that has benefits in the classroom. The game Yeshitla was trying out is intended to help students understand physics.

Credit Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Programmers learn about virtual reality and augmented reality technology at the Google Fiber Space in Kansas City, Kansas.

Steve Biegun co-hosted the hackathon. He's a virtual reality developer at Pulse. He says that Pokémon Go has made more people aware of AR and VR technology.

“There’s a lot of interest from people who play Pokémon Go and want to learn more about the technology,” Biegun said.

He hopes the momentum will continue and go beyond games to have real-world applications in Kansas City.

"If we're not going to keep it relevant, we're not going to take advantage," he said.  

Winners of the hackathon were to be announced Sunday afternoon at the event. They'll be posted to Kansas City Virtual Reality group's Facebook page

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.
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