Yesterday, I had my first immersive VR experience. It was the total package. Headgear. Trackers. Haptics. Consoles. Rigs. Probiotic Yogurt. Honestly, I’m not sure why I waited so long to try this. Yes, my mind was suitably blown. Let’s start the digesting…
Picture of the VR advert at Capital Factory in Austin, Texas
Silver Screen SQUID Approximations
Growing up in North Carolina, “Brainstorm” was one of those science fiction movies you heard more about in the local news than you did from people that went to see it in a theater. Most folks I grew up with saw it on HBO when cable came to our neighborhoods.
Filming locations included all the places that would be part of my youth. The Outer Banks, Research Triangle Park, and various university settings were literally the backdrop for science fiction.
Boy meets Girl. Girl gets her cerebral cortex recorded.
Enjoy the 900 MHz wireless phones of the “future”.
“Strange Days” is also science fiction but it is a bit darker and edgier compared to the magical wonder of “Brainstorm”. The filming locations are right in the backyard of Hollywood. Some of those locations I’ve visited in my career.
Now, are either of these movies about VR? Not exactly.
In avoiding spoilers, the primary plot device in both movies (for me at least) was the notion of recording and playing back the experiences of the brain using a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID). Both involved computing and storage device media so as my career has involved computing and storage oriented companies for the past several years – very amusing in retrospect.
Both movies were a riff on the rise personal media recording starting with the humble VCR of the 80s and the eventual DVD of the 90s. In both tales, a person could record the total immersive experience they are having (their reality) and then that same person OR another person could experience it again – everything see hear smell touch everything – because the SQUID was doing both recording and playback by accessing brainwaves. In effect, this is passive viewing of an immutable and durable experience.
Control and the Construct
If you are reading this digest, I’ll go out on a limb and guess that you’ve seen at least one if not all of “The Matrix” trilogy or failing that, perhaps the holodeck from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.
A Construct is a virtual work space or “loading program” created to run simulations or upload…
A Holographic Environment Simulator, or holodeck for short, was a form of holotechnology…
In terms of where VR is today visually, it’s not “The Matrix” by a long shot. Rather, it’s probably capable of reaching somewhere in the range of “Polar Express” uncanny valley creepy though.
The experiences will improve as demand generation puts more VR headsets and peripherals into the hands of a new generation of gamer, trainer, and entrepreneur. Combined with advances in computing and networking speeds, things are going to get feisty.
So, the natural question would be where convergence fits into place. For me, I look back to the SQUID of “Strange Days” and even “Brainstorm”.
Convergence in VR will be interesting for several areas:
High end headsets will be replaced by an affordable SQUID that might not be too far off from donning a fashionable hat (hey, it can’t be worse than when folks were Bluetooth earpieces)
Processing units for the VR experience that currently require tower size gaming rigs will be replaced by ultra portable devices
A lessening of dependency on the current accoutrements will allow a user to be paired with biologically sound interfaces
sub dermal SQUID
Software improvements obviating psycotropics (to get past algorithmic challenges for suspension of disbelief) will give rise to blending of VR and augmented reality (AR) without the need for glasses
As for the convergence of the physical impacts of a VR or AR experience I can see a couple of possibilities
Bounded experience areas requiring a user to stay in a flat grid will be replaced with active surfaces and other logically configured physical environments (approaching the holodeck concept)
A passive physical posture will be more desirable and “The Matrix” approach of stimulation will mean the user just stays in a fixed position.
Will experiences be available in a RedBox kiosk like DVDs and games are today?
Will experiences be massive downloads like with a movie from Netflix? Will we be able to stream an experience?
Can I subscribe to a bundle of experiences?
Will experiences have discount codes if I subscribe to a series of experiences on retail’s digital Black Friday?
These are all great questions to ask. As the consumer experience dictates, the convergence will arrive to satisfy a scenario where “it just works”.
Lastly, as a reminder… convergence will also apply in how we communicate and share experiences and improve upon the pursuit of refinements in developed skills. It’s already happening now on the edges of the IT and skills continuum. Soon these new training methods will coming to a consumer retail ready experience near you and the people you know and probably sooner than you think.
In fact, yesterday I did some on the job training of my own! This video doesn’t do justice to what I experienced but it gives you an idea of what the possibilities are going to be now and in the very near future.
Announcing the third job within Job Simulator - Office Worker. Job Simulator is a tongue-in-cheek virtual reality experience for motion controlled VR platform