Monday, February 20, 2017

(The Big Disrupt) VR: Eye Opening

Virtual reality (VR) is going to change to way we see the world.


Pokemon Go, Google Cardboard, Samsung VR, Oculus...more and more technology is
popping up that enhances what we see and how we interact with our world. Really cool stuff! Soon we will be able to do a myriad of useful (and fun) tasks as if they were part of the environment we find ourselves in.

Oculus, Sony, and HTC are some of the major players in the VR game. Each with their own set of equipment and headsets for a variety of platforms. For example, Sony’s Playstation VR has a suite of immersive games that range from thrilling gangster shootouts to goofy office tasks. The player can interact with just about anything in the environment and movements are generally fluid and accurate to the movements of your head and hands. Right now, the gear from these manufacturers is getting a ton of attention in the gaming world. However, as VR applications expand and evolve, we could easily see their usage growing into other areas like graphic design, CAD, or even video meetings. How cool would it be to feel like you are in the same room with friends or colleagues when each of you is miles apart from the other?

When taking a look at the way Hollywood has portrayed VR, we see many different options and applications. In the Iron Man movies, Tony Stark has JARVIS who is an artificial intelligence that follows him around and can manifest holograms of just about anything. In the Tron movies, people are actually transported inside the computer and are trapped in a world that is 100% digital. The potential for this technology is enormous!

So, what is in the works today?Well, there are a couple exciting endeavors underway by companies you may or may not know.

Let’s start with Microsoft. Love them or hate them, they do come up with some interesting ideas. Currently in it’s early production stages is their HoloLens project. Just by taking a look at the HoloLens page it is apparent that there are high hopes and a long list of potential applications for their headset. In one scene it shows a designer using the HoloLens to put himself inside a scale model of a building so he can look around and change elements on the fly. In another we see a game artist bringing his creation to life in the space by his desk.  In yet another, we are shown an example of a group meeting where everyone is virtually ‘present’ in the same space and are examining a floating virtual model.

Another project in the works is by a mostly unknown company called Magic Leap. They are working on eyewear that can change your environment completely. Want to have a huge flat screen TV playing the current sports game in that corner over there? You’ve got it. The coolest thing is that (according to some articles) objects will look real. The lighting and real world influences upon an object will be taken into account. Want to try on an outfit before buying? Go for it. Look in a mirror and pull up the clothing items. You can try them on virtually and actually see how they would fit, etc.

What we are seeing now is only the beginning. Expect to see even crazier (and more fun) inventions soon.

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