Google just announce that Project Tango, their vision of how we bring to real live, the depiction of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash vision of how we will combine what we do, how we do it, between the real world, the Universe, and the virtual world, the METAVERSE
In his world, Stephenson people will be going from one to the other, using something very similar to the Oculus, where people could even work, managing automated devices, from a distance, from home or some other place, but also they will have at some point to interact in person. Countries become server farms and URL’s
Looking at how investment in this area is accelerating, we can understand why Project Tango is so important.
Investment is accelerating in this area, mostly forced by Media companies, that can feel this is a great opportunity to level the competition ( CB Insights )
But while Google plays with all these concepts, and spend their stockholders money in all this research, the rest of the world has to deal with what is the definitions of VR = Virtual Reality.
Let’s see what FB thinks about VR : During FB8 Mark Zuckerberg was clear about VR , but no so much : “We had 360-degree open-source cameras. We had the bot revolution.We had antennas connecting the unconnected. It’s all sort of smoke and mirrors right now, but Facebook at least seems to be making this real much faster than anyone would have ever thought.”
Talking to some friends in the space, here is where i am today. So far all the the different explanations lead me to one of these 3 :
Virtual Reality Definitions:
- The most common these days is 360 video ( most of the pieces of the NYTimes ) Don’t know if I would call this Virtual Reality. Eveything is REAL… nothing is added. You can just play with what was taken… Is like having the best seat at the Opera house. perfect for creating Travel guides, Museums Virtual visits, etc.. but all you need is a camera that is taking in 360 degrees so you can show that and let the technology control what you see or not. This could (is ) typically added with 3D and there are way too many applications as well as specialized hardware doing this ( Oculus being the most important).
YouTube’s head of product Neal Mohan put it recently, when talking about the experience of 360 video, all you need for VR with Google is a smartphone and cheap Cardboard viewer. “Those are the kinds of magical experiences this technology is going to be able to create, without having to spend money on some fancy headset.” Tango is likely going to take that strategy, and push it one step further.
- Augmented Reality. I called this the Hybrid solution, You have a REAL image, video, Text and they by using technology you can over impose virtual things. Over impose video, images, where real takes get mixed with images stored. The best example I was able to imagine ( there are others but for now this is very good explaining what I mean) think of a room, or house, where you can see the room through the lens of you camera, cellphone, etc. What you see are walls, empty room. Then you use one of those hardware ( like Oculus or the cardboard or plastic where you just place your cel phone) and through and app you are suddenly immerse in that empty room. Now with your hands and using your head as movement, you can start adding “furniture” that you have in a file or maybe even from Furniture Stores that you access online. The furniture takes the exact size to fit or not inside the room. What it means is that based on a REAL physical experience ( the Room, the House, etc) you start adding images, video or text that is NOT real.
IKEA tried this in 2014 Catalog , that is 2 years ago… it had too many glitches, bu they were in the right direction. Ikea just announce a new version developed at the French company Allegorithmic, using Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games, specific for Kitchen design
- VIRTUAL REALITY. Now, think of yourself sitting or laying at home. Your device operating in front of your eyes in a closed vision path. ( hardware like Oculus or cardboard or plastic with a cel phone that has an app that controls the 3D sensation and that control with movement). You are suddenly ANY place in the world, you can access ANY posible video experience that has been prepared ( or in the near future, these “experiences” could be totally unprepared) you are suddenly talking to people (the redefinition of Instant Messenger) , presenting yourself with a specific image ( an avatar? ), buying , selling, interacting with other people or situations. … nothing is real world, but everything seems to exist. You just place yourself in a another dimension.
For now we have to focus on the first one.. Content companies need to prepare for all this, let their content free so it can be accesses by any other program/person in a virtual fashion. Today is still a dream.