Who owns the next big thing in VR?

I had the chance to make my way in the 3D/AR/VR industry since 1996, having my first VR experience in 1993. Jaron Lanier was a VR pioneer, the lawn mower movie hit the screen. I was reading W.Gibson. 

The revolution was about to start.

That was great. 

The VR in the 90's
VR in the 90’s

See the video on youtube 

I entered the interactive 3D/VR professional area by passion because it was creative and provided new landscapes to my imagination. 

Today, I’m still working in this industry, creating software tools, applications, or software components. Things have changed, for sure. The more the market is getting mature or pretends to be, the more the place is getting crowded. New devices are emerging every six months. Which reminds me of the rise of the personal computer before the DOS/Windows standard took it all.

The revolution is about to start.

This is great.

Is history repeating itself? Maybe. 

The point is still about timescale: when will a real mass market emerge? 

The false prophets

Let’s be positive. With this growing VR community, I guess the more people are working on it, the better it gets: more ideas, the best will survive and will define the future. Let’s roll.

As many people are jumping into this area, it creates a side effect: most of the time, their fate is based on a technological bet, they raise their voices to expose their vision trying to make self-fulfilling prophecies for the future of VR – Ok, this may apply to many innovative industries – 

The false prophets of VR
The false prophets of VR

If you’re working in the VR/AR industry, you probably have met people:

  • Telling you their VR or AR devices is eventually ready to be mass deployed in the company: that it’s the right time to buy it. But you know it will be used to create POC and marketing videos.
  • Coming with really bad ideas you’ve heard ages ago and that you know are born dead.
  • Wanting to use the WOW effect to shine in their company and become the cool-innovative guy. These ones are sometimes candid, sometimes not.

One of the reason why people buy is because a new technology could appear as magical: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Arthur C. Clarck

Meaning the magic effect is so strong you don’t perceive the sometimes poor level of readiness. Add to this overhyped marketing and you’re fooled.

What helps moving forward

As a maker and user I understand why companies oversell their products to ‘make things – and money – happen’ – At the end of the day, this may be counter-productive.

Seeing ‘no vision’ people or journalists spreading fake news won’t make future or unrealistic market predictions happen .

On the other hand, seeing new amazing technologies and devices in action is still exciting. 

I prefer when key players present their long term vision based on innovative concepts. It depicts better a main direction on solid thoughts on the future.

Microsoft and its concept of Holographic Operating System seen as natural evolution from textual DOS to 2D Graphic and then to 3D Holographic interface, is more inspirational than press releases based on a distorted reality. Regarding this topic, you may like this Medium article.

The main idea is that the human/machine interface will be fully immersive. Just think your house and all the services as a 3D interface and you may understand how a fully spatialized interface can be efficient.

Hololens 2 holographic interface
Holographic interface with Hololens 2

Magic Leap defining what could be the Magicverse applications layers shows that they want to settle a long term vision. The Magicverse is an open gate – using AR – to the digital world, depicted in different layers as shown in the following graphics.

The magicverse of Magic leap
The magicverse

Apple is acting more silently: ARkit is there, but no specific device, only rumors. Are they waiting for the market to be mature enough for a “winner takes it all” device move? As they have done before with the smartphone.