The third Oculus event of its kind for Facebook provided an interesting update on the state of Consumer Virtual Reality and what it was and was not yet achieving in the market. As mark Zuckerberg said its still a new technology, many of its features are still being discovered to find the best ways to use this new Platform.
"In the demonstrations I find it is more what the underlying issues are that was more interesting than what was actually shown or said. Apart from the high cost of the current Rift device the realizing is that both the form factor and the interaction has to be Mixed Reality (MR) , not locked away inside a personal Virtual Reality. While the demonstration argued the need for Augmented Reality (AR) as a way of facebook hanging out with your buddies and doing virtual selfies is a novelty, the problem is the sensors and tools are too cumbersome and invasive today.
"Firstly, the hard core gamers market will be the early adopters as will theme parks and fair grounds. Then in Engineering and Medical surgery this technology is already several years in use for advanced engineering design and simulation to training. The Consumer market needs to be a lighter touch, where the wearable device is easier to use and enables you to interact with the physical world as a blended mixed reality. For sure closed imagined worlds of virtual reality will also feature but the trick will be to merge these together as a seamless experience.
"Secondly, the hand held moving controllers are still way too cumbersome, other device such as Leap Motion can detect body movements of arms and gate without the necessary hand held controls. Its interesting that Facebook announcement to use the Computer Vision Software (CVS) reflects this fact that objects and wearables need to have frictionless connectivity that the user doesn’t need to actively make this work, it just passively works in background . This is what some call ambient computing in the sense that it’s the focus on the experience that is important not the technology.
"The other key issue is the platform content and richness. With Google and its Daydream platform , Microsoft also following in this area, while Amazon is pushing into Natural Language processing (NLP) platforms with Echo and Alexa product launches. The new future of search and interaction that is the “Internet of Things” connected experience platform will be in fought, won or lost n the ability to build mass market reality devices and platforms that will connect and generate reasons to say and be better served.
"Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly says this every time, but it’s the devil in the detail that will be the critical next steps that will make products not just go the way of another BetaMax or Blackberry but will establish the new ecosystem of the next rich contextual computing era. This will require new hardware and software innovations and new skills in A.I. and new cyber-physical physics and content to be learnt. It’s a race to this next mountain top but is already well advance more than many consumers already realise.
"Defining these digital spaces of the connected home, connected car, connected work to smart cities will not infact be in the physical world but will exist in a mixed reality of the physical and virtual cities and communities and personas of the near future."
7th October 2016
Melissa Holloway, Assistant Press Officer, Email: Melissa.Holloway@warwick.ac.uk