Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality: The Slope of Enlightenment
On April 15, 2013, Google released Google Glass. The response was underwhelming. Consumers who paid the hefty $1,500 price tag to join the Google Glass Explorer Program were introduced to an undersized display, with a lack of accompanying software, which left users with a lower spec head mounted camera and a walking privacy concern. What Google accomplished wasn’t a successful product or revenue stream – but it did make augmented reality a household name. The technology community wondered, was this another frail attempt at a dream that mirrored the failure of virtual reality in the 80s and 90s, or were we now riding the hype cycle?
Flash-forward three years later and we find ourselves at a precipice. Microsoft introduced the Kinect for Xbox not to produce an arguably failed gaming experience, but to refine tracking a physical space for movement. This level of interaction would later be implemented in the Microsoft Hololens. Facebook purchased Oculus Rift for 2 billion USD not to capitalize on their Farmville cash cows, but to make virtual reality commonplace and ready the first adopters and consumers. Google released Cardboard not to provide a novel pizza-box experience, but to democratize virtual reality and take it from a household name to an experience that comes with any new Android phone.
The industry leaders have all completed their R&D projects and the products are being delivered to the beta testers. Oculus has released the commercial CV1, HTC has released the commercial Vive, Microsoft has released the developer edition Hololens and begun work on the Alloy virtual reality headset with Intel, Samsung has packaged Gear VRs with new purchases of Samsung phones, and Lenovo has released a consumer phone with 3D scanning built in. And now, Microsoft has announced Windows Holographic, a virtual reality interface built in to core Windows 10.
Augmented and virtual reality has entered the slope of enlightenment. The leading firms have all announced their plays. The experiences are improving daily and the technological progress has become mind blowing. In the years to come, the medium created by these technologies will drive to the forefront of computer human interaction, replacing the antiquated mouse, keyboard, and display model of a previous age.
The age of augmented and virtual reality is not far.
About the Author:
Graham Leslie is the JBKnowledge Research & Development Team Lead (JBKLabs), which is dedicated to disrupting and accelerating the architecture, engineering, and construction industries by building solutions with emerging technology. Graham is a computer scientist with particular research interests in mixed reality and reality scanning. JBKLabs is available for advisory, research, and custom software development services.