Serious Insights Virtual Reality Business Digest: August 9, 2016
Spiders and Spaceships and DNA oh my!
This week there are several articles that circle around the increasing realization that we have to work the data issues related to VR and AR before they really take off. While AR and VR offer technologies of rendering and delivery, they need well considered models to make what they render meaningful. The real value will arrive from virtual tech with rendered models of data honed to fit a particular scenario. What most of these article ignore is the big technology investment required to transform data into models, and to continue to transform that data depending on various use cases. This model market could be as big, if not bigger, than the hardware market delivering that data to people’s brains-and it will have uses far beyond AR and VR.
Insight of the weak
If virtual reality fails, blame spiders, The Verge
Proponents of VR for therapy tout it for everything from acrophobia to PTSD, but new technology always offers up unexpected experiences. This article discusses the fear induced when very real spiders take up residence in a VR headset.
Play of the Day
Apollo 11 Command Module, Smithsonian Institution
Apollo 11 was the iconic real spaceship of the 1960s. I forced my cash-strapped parents to purchase the 8mm film of the historic mission from the back of a Helms Bakery truck. The new Smithsonian Institution app delivers a first-hand command module experience on headsets, or just through the web.
As much as they tried to create good scans, the app doesn’t feel as real as it should. I think this has to do with scale and models. First, the models are a confluence of scans and plans, which means that some of it is built via polygons, and some of it, as raster images and they don’t always blend smoothly. Scale means I don’t feel cramped. In real VR, I should feel like my head is about to hit something above me, even if it isn’t. I don’t have that sense of “space jeopardy” in this simulation. It’s a start, and it brings this historical space artifact to a wider audience. Simulations like this can only get better.
Disney, Comcast Pour Cash In Virtual Reality As The ‘Netflix Of VR’ Looms, Investors’s Business Daily
There will be a VR challenge to Netflix from somewhere. Netflix may eventually have the money to stave them off, or buy the VR start-up, but somewhere, 360-degree storytelling will find a home. This article explores the big cash push from incumbents trying to control the roll of VR in media, but they might be surprised by some emergent player.
Alibaba uses virtual reality to make shopping more interactive, South China Morning Post
More important here is the reality that Alibaba has built a few hundred models and is now putting that learning experience back into tools to make that process faster. This is exactly what should be happening in the VR world. Until toolkits develop that let people other than VR coders develop solutions, its going to be a slow slog to the immersive future.
Real-world risks in an augmented reality, CSO Online
A good reminder that AR will be a target for hacking, which reinforces that it is also a platform, because that is what hackers target. AR, unlike most VR, will exist in the wild, not behind home and business-based firewalls. The amount of personal data captured is going to skyrocket as AR interacts with people in their most intimate of moments, even if they don’t think of those moments as intimate. Because AR will eventually track eye movement, what you look at will become data even if you only subconsciously looked at it. And the more hackers know, the more they can engineer their attacks.
A Future Without Street Signs, The Atlantic
This is one of those articles that suggests a major change in human behavior precipitated by technology. I don’t think we are going to see street signs go away. They are part of the structure of the world, and in fact, they are solid locations for backup triangulation to more precisely locate people using smart devices with GPS. I don’t think the question so much “Do they go away?” so much as “what do they become?” As the article states: “Maps are supposed to tell us about the world as it is.” Street signs may change, but they are part of the world as it is, and they are more likely to get coopted than taken away.
Cook touted AR not VR, which is telling. Mobile devices have long been used for AR and Pokémon Go’s success just reinforces the fact that people don’t need to wear headsets or glasses to get value out of AR. Is it the next platform? I think it is, at least the immersiveness of everything digital, which can be argued is AR or not. Apple can do a lot to their phones, including stereo cameras, improved sound and more sensors to enhance the iPhone and iPad as the premier AR mobile devices. I would look to the innards of iPhone 7 for clues.
That’s right. It isn’t enough to have a game that provers marketing genius for its creators, making Nintendo a household name in new households. Now Pokémon Go is being explored as a home to other marketing efforts (and it is highly likely a few clones are on the way). The real world blurring of lines and the high level of engagement make these platforms ideal targets for marketing. Until they aren’t.
Epson takes augmented reality glasses to drones, Computer Dealer News
Flying drones is an ideal application for AR. No need to take your eye off the drone to drive. The Epson Moverio BT-300 leans on a quad core Intel Atom X5 processor and Android 5.1, which delivers plenty of power for rendering basic environments for drone pilots.
The beta of Envelop for Windows from Envelop VR has shipped into the consumer market, making Windows apps accessible inside of VR, but also allowing non-VR developers to extend those apps into the VR environment. Pass the data and parameters from the app to Envelop for Windows and the VR environment manages all of the rendering, ensuring performance and frame rate. (Note, Envelop VR has been or is a Serious Insights client). Multiple virtual displays in environment will be the first win for early adopters, but the real magic will happen when Windows app developers leverage the Envelop for Windows SDK to add VR features to existing apps.
A very thoughtful piece about the impact of AR on architecture and construction. Highlights include a better sense of relationship to real world objects during design, saving huge amounts of paper and space, along with the application of digital plans in construction to improve productivity and accuracy.
High frame rates require not just good GPUs, but also good data streams. Pumping data through 4G taxes mobile VR’s capabilities. 5G will unleash mobile from a data standpoint. Then we’ll finally have to deal with the electrical power issue.
The microscope knows where they surgeon is looking. Rendering will augment the surgical field, much as GPS maps augment our knowledge of where we are going. Watch the video for more insight.
More at Digital Journal.
At about the time the Internet was taking off, a waste disposal company named Republic was getting into the used car business as AutoNation. They now run AutoNation.com and over 270 sites for franchised automotive dealerships (according to Funding Universe). With VR, it is now time for another technology disruption that won’t just be about access to inventory and financing, but access to the experience of buying a car. Vroom wants to be the company that disrupts physical sales even more. All I can say is I hope they don’t include the “guy in the back” that your sales person has to keep leaving you to talk to.
Updated design makes for a better Samsung GearVR experience.
Virtual reality headsets helping people pick glasses, Irish Examiner
Great application of VR. Rather than just knowing you can see in the doctor’s office, this VR systems models optical properties of new prescriptions and brings them into environmental situations. How do these specs perform in bright sunlight? How about when driving with oncoming headlights? This application of VR will likely prove popular, reducing returns and increasing satisfaction. Automation has almost eliminated the need for manual eye testing, and this technology will augment already precise tests with a test drive.
I have long called my phone a “mental prosthesis.” This well-written article from The Guardian explores the history and implications of that idea.
Looking at DNA inside cancer to visually discover the mutation, and the cause. The UI also includes all of the information in one interface so people can stay in the moment even as they review histories and research. Click the story title to watch the video.
Virtual Space Travel Is Almost Here, Inverse
Radiation more so than gravity will probably keep most people Earth-bound, and the combination proves lethal to many science fiction-inspired dreams of human space travel. VR, however, will allow people to simulate space travel without the risks. This article focuses on human-flight enabled VR. With all of the data coming from various probes, it would also be interesting to bundle that all up and create “God’s Eye” views of celestial bodies where the VR participant drives the exploration experience through the data.
Tech of the week
Nvidia’s Eye-Tracking Tech Could Revolutionize Virtual Reality, MIT Technology Review
Blurring the edges of vision is the way the eye-brain system helps people focus their attention. It’s a trick that’s been known since Leonardo DaVinci. Now Nvidia is trying to incorporate it into VR to create more realistic virtual worlds.