The Coming Renaissance of Virtual & Augmented Reality
On October 15, 2015, I had the distinct honor of moderating the first all female panel in the history of the Wireless Technology Forum. Topic: The Future of Virtual and Augmented Reality
Panelists were both pioneers and experts in their fields:
- Annie Eaton, CEO, ATLvr
- Margaret Martin, CEO, CN2
- Maribeth Gandy Ph.D., Director Interactive Media Technology Center (IMTC), Georgia Tech
Here are a few key learnings from my panel of experts, or you can watch the entire session here.
For the past 15 years, innovation in Virtual Reality (VR) & Augmented Reality (AR) has been funded mostly by the military (DoD and DARPA) in educational / research settings such as the IMTC at Georgia Tech. This was due to the $20,000 price tag for headsets and the amount of power consumed by VR equipment requiring heavy battery packs. Not to mention the computing power and video cards required for VR.
What's the difference between AR & VR?
- Technology is the same.
- AR - Physical world is important, the challenge is to align with the real world
- VR is challenged to create a complete synthetic world
What are the applications to promote a healthy lifestyle in VR?
Haptic technologies such as omnidirectional treadmills will be the health / fitness application for VR. Imagine wearing a headset and walking through VR through an open field instead of a straight path.
Why is AR/VR becoming relevant now?
AR - The form factor of the tablet makes Industrial applications for AR possible. AR on a tablet will show you how a piece of furniture you are considering purchasing will look in your home before you make a buying decision. This will increase customer satisfaction and decrease returns of big ticket items for the retailer.
- Price of the headsets have dropped significantly i.e. $99 for the Samsung Gear VR
- Smartphone screens are getting bigger with higher resolution and more powerful computing power. The Samsung Gear headsets will work with the Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge+.
- Desktop / Laptop computers have become far more powerful and cheaper than a $30,000 mainframe.
Where's the money in AR/VR?
AR - Military, Industrial Applications
VR - Gaming, adult entertainment, military, marketing/advertising splash, training for situational awareness
How about VR for humanitarian causes (Computing for Good)?
An application for VR is to show donors how their donations to non-profits are affecting lives in 3rd world countries by transporting donors into the shoes of humanitarian aid workers.
Predictions for 2016 and Beyond
- 2016 will be the start of a renaissance in development in AR & VR due to the perfect storm of smartphones and headsets becoming available to main street.
- Hyper-Reality will emerge as an elegant combination of VR & AR.
- 3D body scanning will become more affordable and thus more prevalent. We will step into virtual dressing rooms instead of the mall.
- AR will move from tablets and smartphones to become a part of our bodies.
- We will see applications of AR & VR that we haven't even begun to imagine.