Serious Insights Virtual Reality Business Digest: June 24, 2016 – Rethinking AR
While AR and VR may be technically different sides of the same coin, AR is easier to demonstrate, and it is easier for people to imagine it as integrated into their lives. VR remains a technology perceived apart from direct experience. AR then may not only be, as many forecast bigger than VR, it may be the technology that stunts the growth of VR as people await AR to create some of the experiences they imagine better served by AR than VR.
Those people, however, would be ill advised to wait. There is so much work that needs to be done with data and model representation that is not lost, regardless of which technology ultimately prevails. Investments in VR will not be lost on AR, and will likely accelerate its arrival. Waiting for AR over VR may actually delay the development of AR technology. The relationships with space, the deep data models required to represent objects, the sensing of boundaries and the integration of objects from multiple sources, can all prove value to experiences in either technology. In some cases, VR may be a companion technology, one that is used best for concentration.
One of my favorite examples is surgical coaching, where the surgeon is wearing AR and the coach is wearing VR, able to completely immerse themselves in what the surgeon is projecting back, and offer precise guidance remotely. The surgeon needs to see the entire operating theater, but the coach must concentrate on the organ, the vessel or the tendon. Taking away the coach’s peripheral vision and sense of place puts them in the theater with the surgeon much more so than AR, which would likely encourage multi-tasking rather than collaboration. The surgeon receives audio and visual instructions that help guide their scalpels, clamps and sutures.
Investors, developers and buyers who see the potential in AR and VR need to invest in applications designed to provide specific value, to overcome specific impediments and leverage the emerging advantages. Only second guessing, not software and certainly not hardware, will curtail the fast track to AR and VR value.
Serious Insights Commentary: Google’s deeper move into AR and VR is going to create significant disruption in the VR and AR space. The Daydream platform may cause some investment hesitation as it becomes less clear what technologies solutions should be built on. In the early Windows days, all Microsoft had to do was suggest they were going in a technology direction and the market would freeze, waiting for the tech giant to do whatever it was going to do. Much of that was curtailed by the 2001 anti-trust case against Microsoft. The global market means that Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus didn’t completely freeze out competition, but only HTC so far has progressed to a fully competitive position.
Google’s Daydream is their gauntlet that may further delay real solutions as developers figure out which platform is not only best, which which platform is likely to survive. This is a very positive situation for abstraction software like Unity and Unreal Engine, which take up the work of migrating to other platforms, leaving the developers tied to their higher level engines. The problem is, the solutions can only go so far. The real advantages of AR and VR won’t be built with tool kits, but with creative coding at the lowest levels of the hardware and software stacks.
Watch augmented reality put furniture into empty space, Popular Science
Serious Insights Commentary: This video features DIRTT’s ICEreality application, a virtual/augmented reality program that models interior construction planning. The video demonstrates the power of AR to transform an empty space into a virtual planning environment. As amazing as the video is, it just begins to hint and the business implications for AR. If you haven’t decided to rethink AR, you will after you watch this video.
Serious Insights Commentary: This is a telling story about story telling. The VR version of Fallout 4 was too emotionally connected, which is perhaps a good thing for humanity and a bad thing for VR game revenues. As with all other shifts in media, content developers can’t just assume telling the same story through a new channel is the right approach. VR seems to demand more compassion, more detachment, or both, in some newly balanced approach.
A Simple Trick to Avoid Losing Your Lunch While in Virtual Reality, MIT Technology Review
Serious Insights Commentary: Narrowing the field of view which reduces the sense of movement. Simple. The question is, how does the app know when to invoke this trick?
Serious Insights Commentary: VR is an existential threat to linear storytelling and control. Even progressive directors will cling to direction during the disruption that is VR. Real VR storytelling will not just be immersive, it will be viewer-centric, meaning the viewer can decide what he or she wants to look at, and in the most sophisticated of offerings, where to go, perhaps even in what order. This means film directors will need to be able to tell multi-path stories, much as game developers do today. They will need to visualize vast areas, and create relevant sub-plots that engage when the participant runs off the edge of the narrative. No one teaches this yet, and game designers have the burden of scores, inventories and social interactions as a primary focus, more so than pure storytelling. Filmmakers will need to learn from games, and then transcend them.
Intel’s Augmented Reality Plan: Vuzix, seekingalpha
Serious Insights Commentary: This post represents a some pretty lengthy speculation about how Intel will leverage Vuzix to own AR. If nothing else, the post gives a good sense of the history of AR and just how nascent the opportunity remains. A nudge one way or another, a pick-up here or a sale there, and the fortunes of Intel’s future growth and/or the survival of Vuzix hang in the balance.
How Stores Will Use Augmented Reality to Make You Buy More Stuff, MIT Technology Review
Serious Insights Commentary: Another story about AR and retail, this time focused on buying action. More thought on a real use case that does not involve specialized hardware, just a phone or tablet. While smart glasses may well be the future, the near-term will likely be dominated by mobile devices acting as the lens that melds data with the real world.
Opportunities for Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Medicine, Physicians Money Digest
Serious Insights Commentary: It isn’t enough to imagine how AR and VR will help improve patient outcomes, somebody needs to build and test solutions. Here is a key take away from this post:
Medical educators will need education and training in teaching with technologies like these. As of now, we are hypothesizing that VR will result in better outcomes and demonstrated competencies for less cost. That hypothesis needs to be validated.
Serious Insights Commentary: This post provides insights on something that AR and VR vendors are going to need to wrap their heads around. Early sales leads are likely at the wrong level in the organization. In this case, Cisco found people using the tech and is encouraging them—but this is no executive level initiative. Too bad Cisco has a track record for abandoning collaboration technology investments. Time will tell if this team’s ideas of how to apply AR and VR to the Cisco Spark platform really gets traction.
Comcast Leads Investment in Virtual-Reality Studio, Bloomberg Technology
Serious Insights Commentary: Even though these posts focus on business, entertainment companies are spending money investing in VR is business. Comcast and their NBCUniversal subsidiary doesn’t want to be left out from the VR content creation game. Their investment in Felix & Paul Studios is a good hedge toward remaining relevant over the long-term, as even the monopolistic leanings of companies like Comcast are subject to disruption during a technology shift.
Serious Insights Commentary: Many people are likely to experience VR for the first time someplace other than their home, or the home of a friend. This article points out how major brands leverage VR experiences to reinforce their consumer relationships.
Why Virtual Reality Will Be the Most Social Computing Platform Yet, Andreesen Horowitz
Serious Insights Commentary: VR is going to change the way many people interact. It is not going to necessarily work the way early examples suggest, some of which are outlined in this article. VR, while evolutionary at the hardware level, represents an experiential disruption. New languages of interaction, and new metaphors of cooperation will need to emerge.
Serious Insights Commentary: It’s all about the models. For education to be effective, VR and AR will need models that can be explored. Models are data, and they are only as deep as that data. If a brain outline exposes the exterior of the cerebral cortex, that’s great for understanding the surface, but it does nothing to help someone explore the interior of the brain. AR and VR will need to help rethink not only how data is represented, but how it is captured, so that it can be rendered effectively for the application, in this case, teaching about the brain at all levels of abstraction, not just the surface. Early applications will literally scratch just the surface as data integration