Serious Insights on VR in the Press
I wrote the following pieces for GeekWire and Cross cut. The links will take you to the original articles on those sites.
The MagicLeap ‘A New Morning’ Video
MagicLeap is garnering all the VC attention, but when a real view of its apps comes to light, it seems a bit more mundane. The AR industry needs to figure out not just how to augment reality, but how to integrate reality with the augmentation in a way that people can work the way they already work with extras. They should be studying what people do, for instance, with Notifications on Windows and OS X. If they turn down notifications in 2D, why would they be better in 3D or AR. The challenge is to focus attention and to provide additional information in non-annoying ways. For companies like MagicLeap the real leap will be in delivering value to experiences, not just delivering the hardware and software to facilitate experiences.
Watch the video for yourself and let me know if this is how you imagine yourself working in the future. And if, not, what would you like from an AR experience, if anything?
Observation: What are we going to do about “VR Hair”?
VR has a problem that it may not be able to overcome: creating bad hair days. Headsets mess with your hair. So either we are on the edge of a burgeoning society willing to crop their hair to facilitate VR, or people who use hairspray and gel to hold their luxurious locks just so will need to be eliminated from the pool of potential users of VR. With wide consumer targets, technology needs to look at the social implications of their wares, as much as they look at their technological capabilities.
The week’s digest
Serious Insights Commentary: While 360º video isn’t really VR, as I’ve discussed before. That is it driving journalism to explore world events in new ways cannot be ignored.
As AR blurs with VR, get ready for a mixed-reality renaissance, Digital Trends
Serious Insights Commentary: AR and VR aren’t just separated by marketing. I see them as joined at the data, but separated by the visual experience. In AR, I can see a building that isn’t built. In AR, I can put furniture in a room that isn’t furnished. It take VR, however, even if AR has the model, to create a real sense of space for a room that isn’t built yet, or a view out a window or a building that isn’t built yet. That data may overlap, but the depth of the visual experience divides the two. AR, as it implies, is also much more passive and on-demand, connected to and through real world objects, whereas VR takes you out of the world. When it comes to imagining, AR creates imaginary things, and VR creates imaginary places populated by imaginary things. Those things, be they trolls or CAD drawings, are what cross boundary between the two technologies.
Why the Augmented Reality market will outpace virtual reality, Blippar’s president of global marketing, Omaid Hiwaizi via CampaignUS.
Serious Insights Commentary: Tangibility, affordability and accessibility. Those are the points, and they are good ones. What isn’t clear yet is what application spaces and use cases require full immersion.
The Facebook Vision
Serious Insights Commentary: I’m not convinced Brian Krassenstein. The money pouring into hardware means that someone is going to come up with a headset that rivals the Oculus Rift, and depending on partnerships, it might find a way around Facebook’s seemingly hold on the imagination when it comes to “social VR” as the killer app. If VR really becomes much more of an enterprise play than a consumer play, many headsets will compete in that space, as they already do.
Facebook’s vision of 2026: virtual reality and the lines between AI and human interaction blurred, South China Morning Post
Serious Insights Commentary: Can’t disagree that Facebook’s roadmap should have a big “So What?” written above the technology vision. It’s time for Facebook to put on its “enterprise” face.
What was Microsoft, for instance, talking about in 2006? The file system that wasn’t going to make it into “Longhorn.”
We’ve had to make some trade-offs to deliver the features corporate customers, consumers and OEMs are asking for in a reasonable time frame,” said Jim Allchin, group vice president of the Platforms Group at Microsoft. “Our long-term vision for the Windows platform remains the same.”
That Windows vision didn’t include the cloud-based Azure vision, which Microsoft announced in October of 2008. Visions are a moving target because they don’t exist in a vacuum, and they will never be fulfilled as initially stated. All visions exist in a social, economic, political and environmental context that can reinforce or disrupt any single technology or company vision. In some cases, things will happen sooner, in others, even if they happen, they won’t become the market mover forecasted. Any company that only has no roadmap without any context should always be taken as myopic and highly prone to disruption.
The ethical dilemmas of virtual reality, Brookings
Serious Insights Commentary: Where do our personal thought end and begin in VR. Can we perform unethical acts in VR if it is just for us. Who creates that software that permits those acts, and how accountable are they when user view of reality and imagination blur into real world acts? If you haven’t thought about that, read this account by Darrell M. West at Brookings on playwright Jennifer Haley’s “The Nether,” playing the Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington, D.C.
Serious Insights Commentary: I visited with HTC last week to see their latest hardware, and continue to be impressed. The Vive continues to improve, the HTC 10 is an outstanding phone and UA HealthBox™ is an interesting innovation for the mobile hardware manufacturer. What is even more important is their recognition that they need to drive the market in order for their hardware efforts to payoff. The $100M investment is a step forward toward the kind of software that is going to make Vive not just something to imagine working with, but something that will actually add value to work.
Serious Insights Commentary: This is the kind of investment required to make VR real. Visual Vocal and NBBJ are teaming to build a venture that will eliminate the need for building small-scale models of building projects. It sounds great when you say it, and Serious Insights has said it in conferences and in print. It is a entirely different thing to consider, like how architectural drawings will related to VR models including level of detail and hidden features. How will human scale be built into the models so that people can experience the projects in a way small models do not permit? How detailed does the environmental aspects need to be? Will this be a visual tour or an interactive engagement? Will people be able to bring in their own models to furnish office or personal spaces? What does the furnishing process look like, and whose models will be certified for fit and security. If a buyer has closed, will he or she (or a company) be able to buy the furnishings without a secondary step? What about fixtures, security, power and other features?
The little “ant” models just sit there. A VR model will heighten expectations, and after the initial wonder wears off, the practical application could disappoint rather than add value unless the companies really think about the level of detail in the models they are create.
Serious Insights Commentary: Retail remains one of the top areas for VR. It will require software more focused on modeling and creating new shopping experiences, rather than payments, which can leverage existing systems. I agree with the first post that AR will be more important than VR to retail because it is going to be about providing more information in the moment with the physical product. VR can be useful in providing a deeper view of products, but fit, feel and function remain abstracted at this point. Solving for fit, feel and function will help VR, but the question is, can they get to meaningful model before AR becomes a more viable alternative?
Here are our top pics this week for insightful articles about VR and AR in retail:
- Study: Three technologies that will shape retail – and one that won’t (AR not VR), Chain Store Age
- Q&A: Virtual reality and augmented reality in business by André Hordagoda, Co-founder of GoInStore
- Adding a level of reality to online shopping, The Boston Globe
- MasterCard looks beyond Apple Pay to virtual reality, connected cars and AI bots, AFR
- If Wayfair announces a virtual reality lab, does it really exist?, Furniture Today
- Virtual Reality Could Be the Future of Mobile Payments, MSN
Serious Insights Commentary: A look at “vergence accommodation conflict” and how the monocle can play a role is solving the problem.
(Monocole image attribution: By Sobebunny – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8831224)