Serious Insights Business VR Digest: March 17 2016
Serious Insights Business VR Digest
March 17 2016
Written by Principal Analyst, Daniel W. Rasmus
What you’ve experienced in a VR headset probably isn’t virtual reality.
For most, putting on a Google Cardboard or one of its equivalents, virtual reality is an app that mostly likely streams some video or a video of a simulation. That is immersive video, not virtual reality.
While virtual reality can include video, VR should not just be a passive experience. Even on headsets that don’t allow for positional motion (sensing where the body is and moving around in the world) VR technologies can add real value to experiences beyond simple video playback.
Let me give you contrast.
I’m a real estate agent and I want to show off a house virtually. My first choice is to walk through the house with a VR capable camera and capture that tour, post the virtual tour and then be done. If a model of the house exists, I don’t even have to go to the property to film it. I could create a virtual tour video and post that. I could also post both. Neither of those is really virtual reality.
Now consider this. I have a model of the house. Not just a floor plan, but a working model. I have mapped the textures of the real home onto the model. Everything works. When a person takes this virtual tour, they can open windows and doors and cabinets. They can look at the grout on bathroom tile. But that is just the beginning. Take away the current textures and start asking things like, “what would it look like if these cabinets were white?” A virtual measuring tape could be deployed to see if the space for the refrigerator would fit the new one you just saw at Best Buy (though it would be a bit redundant given the presumed accuracy of the model — it is more likely that you could just ask the system to place the new refrigerator in its niche and report back the clearances. One further step would be to search the Best Buy inventory for the best fit, and place that frig in the slot).
And now for the kicker. You open the blinds and look out on the street and command, “show me noon on a winter day.” Combine big data and say, “show me the last sales prices of the homes I can see from this window,” or “provide crime reports for this neighborhood. Go to arial view and map.” That is were the real power for VR is going to come in. You can enter the model, see it as it is and then have the software provide it to you the way you imagine it. Furnish, paint, re-carpet, you name it. Imagine you are buying a luxury high-rise condominium. Look out the windows and ask, “what will my view look like when the building across the street is complete?”
VR will provide for shifts in time and shifts in space, and it will provide integration for data that will be much more meaningfully conveyed via spatial relationships.
In the meantime, enjoy your virtual house tours. Recognize though that you are just in phase 1 of a ride that won’t be completed for a long while, if ever. As Walt Disney might say, “as long as there is imagination.” VR can become our own private Disneyland. You might never turn your bedroom into a pirate cove, but you could imagine what it would look like if you did.
Serious Insights Business VR Digest March 17 2016
Thing of the week
This post is supposed to be about business. Selling stuff is business, so I’m sharing the T-shirt that’s going to allow people to see your insides via AR (This T-Shirt Will Let You ‘See’ Inside The Human Body, via Huffington Post). If you want to be a part of this, there is still room for investment on the kickerstarter: Virtuali-Tee: The Ultimate Way to Learn About the Body! Of course, this isn’t your real insides, at least not yet. This is the same tag trick used by marketing departments. At the holidays this year, Starbucks teamed up with the Seattle Space Needle. You could point an app at a tag and Santa would fly around the Space Needle within the app. Now, clever people with the right app could point at a shirt and see you as a “visible person,” perhaps able to see what heart looks like when exercising or sleeping. Other AT tags are already out there and that will be a thing for awhile. The hip application of AR and clothing comes from Design studio Normals which applies clothing and accessories via AR in an artistic way (see This App Brings Personalized Augmented Reality Fashion to Your Phone on The Creators Project blog). Imagine in the future having a Dior app that would take the current runway fashions and virtually map them on to anyone. Then perhaps, you upload that height and size adjustment, and any modifications (like a shorter skirt) and the next week a box arrives. Not that big a stretch, especially if you already have an accurate and current 3D scan of your body available to provide to the dress maker.
Serious Insights commentary: I like the honest timeline. Tough call for a public company CEO who spent $2B on an technology acquisition in Oculus and is still dropping money into development without shipping anything yet (I know, soon). Ten years from now, though, VR won’t look anything like a Rift and if it does, that won’t be a good thing. So real mass market VR is going to be something pretty different from what we have now (think about your “smartphone” from a decade ago – hint, it wasn’t an iPhone which doesn’t turn 10 until next year). He could also be wrong and current VR will take off because of some event or app that isn’t shipping yet.
Coke and McDonald’s Now in VR headset Business
Serious Insights commentary: well, yes, they are embedding printed headsets into boxes. Clever and fun. Better than most Happy Meal prizes, for now. I already live in a future of VR headsets sitting around doing nothing. You can only wear one at a time.
Serious Insights commentary: What I said about apartments, homes and condos above. Switch those words for cars. Think of data and reviews in the VR world, augmenting the car. Performance specs and measures, sure. How about instead of reading a full review, you read reviews about wheels when looking at wheels, and powertrains when looking at the engine. You can crawl under it, even lift if over your head. You can simulate driving, but without the wind in your face, that won’t be the same. You will be able to eliminate a number of options though and spend time only test driving the cars you really like in VR. That is, until it’s legislated we can’t drive cars anymore, and then they will all look the same and getting to places will be boring and cookie cutter. Thanks Google!
You will be able to eliminate a number of options though and spend time only test driving the cars you really like in VR.
Serious Insights commentary: This is the start of the kind of visualization I mention in the opening of this digest. VR will be immersive and great for buyers, but AR may be a better tool for architects. AR will also be a powerful tool for those cases where you do go visit a home. You can overlay anything you can imagine on the space you see through your glasses or other device. Also see Augmented reality now a reality for online furniture shoppers from Furniture Today.
Serious Insights commentary: 500 kilometers of wire, dozens of pipes and hydraulic lines. No wonder it takes so long to build a plane. And its a wonder that we fly. The ultimate expression of human ingenuity most of us have encountered. Read this article to appreciate what Airbus, Boeing and others do. AR will help them do it faster and with higher quality, and that will make us all safer. The article also talks to issue with current generation AR hardware. Some additional thoughts about engineering applications and the need for great GPUs here: Prelude to GTC: VR is No Longer Just for Fun and Games via Desktop Engineering
Serious Insights commentary: Real books augmented with AR data. Will be interesting to see how Amazon responds to AR books (with VR books?). A good lesson for futurists who forecast the demise of print: new technologies can even disrupt a disruption.
Serious Insights commentary: In knowledge management technology circles we called this “awareness management.” Instead of on a monitor, it is on a screen in AR. The trick isn’t the display, its deciding what’s important — I don’t think where the high priority information ends up really matters, though AR might eventually provide a better platform with more virtual projection space than even on a large monitor, and it will be more mobile.
Serious Insights commentary: Pointing an app at something to launch a search is relatively new with tools like Google Googles, which lets you point your phone camera at something to search for similar things. Imagine searching for things about the thing you are looking at, and having that data display around the image your are viewing (yes, could be showroom and home tour applications). That appears to be what Blippar is creating. Strategy forecast: look for a name change. Has the Internet really exhausted seven letter words.
Serious Insights commentary: Finally, if you don’t want to sit in a department store for a makeover, you can turn to your app, eventually, to help you apply your makeup. Its marketing with a practical application. Welcome to “connected beauty.”
Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.