The big debate: VR vs AR
Every week I email out a newsletter named "Life and Tech." About what I'm seeing as I visit innovators around the world. You can subscribe here, this one was sent out June 11th.
Disclaimer: I love Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), both are highly interesting to me. If they aren’t interesting to you, skip the first section of this newsletter and head down to the future of the cloud section.
(I almost made this about Apple, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk about its music service. Instead I’ll send you to Bob Lefsetz, music industry analyst, who says “it’s toast:” http://lefsetz.com/wordpress/index.php/archives/2015/06/10/apple-music/That
said, the new Watch OS is nice, but won’t matter to most of us until later this year when it ships).
Last night on stage at the AWE conference in Santa Clara I was part of a raucous debate: AR vs VR.
I argued that in 2016 the world belongs to VR. But lets define terms. VR, to me, is instantiated in a modern set of products from Oculus Rift, Valve Vive, Samsung Gear VR, Merge VR, to Google Cardboard. In these products you do NOT see the real world. Or, if you do, it’s through a camera that is then mixed into a virtual image. For instance, see this demo of Occipital’s new Structure Sensor:https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153351610144655/
Here a viewer wears a device that ONLY shows him virtual images, and you can’t see through it to the real world.
AR on the other hand, means that I look through screens to the real world. So, I see virtual items overlaid on the real world. I don’t believe that AR will be widely used in 2016 by consumers. For a good look at the state of the art of AR systems, watch my video where you see ODG’s latest R7 glasses. https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153345275139655/
These are quite stunning, more on them in a second.
The reason consumers will largely go with VR in 2016 and not AR comes down to two things:
1. Emotional tie. When I watched people coming out of Oculus Rift demos at CES they said things like “holy shit” or “wow” as they exited. People are getting close to that kind of emotionality when they see things like ODG and Hololens, but not at the same rate. Why? Oculus is highly immersive. It gave me vertigo. In fact, one of the fears of these things is that they will give you motion sickness. But a product that can make you feel like you’re about to die because of a fall, or make you ill from motion, has an upside: you’ll tell all your friends to come over and check it out.
2. Price. ODG’s glasses are $2,700. Hololens? Don’t yet know. But even Oculus is going to be hard for consumers to swallow (a complete system is $1,500). Serious video gamers, though, are used to paying a lot for their hobby, and, since Oculus and Valve’s VR systems are going to be aimed at those people, they probably will do quite well.
3. Content. Let’s be honest, it’s a lot easier to create content for a VR system than overlay a virtual image on top of the real world and have it be compelling. I know lots of people are working at companies like Meta, ODG, Microsoft Hololens, and Magic Leap to bring a compelling use case to AR, but they just aren’t ready yet.
4. Technology expectations. Users will put up with a LOT of latency on head tracking units where they won’t put up with the same latency on AR systems. How do I know that? Meta’s CTO told me that. Getting latency down (the lag you’ll feel when you move your head around) will be a much harder technological challenge, which means the price will remain fairly high until Moore’s law flips a couple more times).
Now, that said, if you extend the timeline beyond 2016, then I agree that AR starts to be very attractive and, I assume, all the VR systems will merge into some form of AR system anyway.
Businesses will want to get into AR systems sooner, I believe. ODG is already being used by surgeons and mechanics, amongst other enterprise users, to do various tasks. Those use cases don’t mind the $2,700 price point and other limitations.
Who is winning already? Mobile-based AR, with companies like Blippar. Here I interview Blippar’s CEO, who is already seeing $80 million of annual sales.https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153350520704655/
In two weeks he’s turning on a new platform that will let businesses grab control of their logos and images and convert searches onto those things into customers.
KVM’s creator, Benny Schnaider, tells me the future of the cloud. He’s building a new virtualization system and says our current applications aren’t designed for the cloud and he’s looking to build a system that goes beyond containers. (Three part video): https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/vb.501319654/10153353692624655/
The future of network security with the founder of Observable Networks.https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153350170829655/
Catches people doing naughty stuff by doing endpoint modeling. Here, CTO Patrick Crowley explains what that is.
Contextual systems and privacy debate: https://youtu.be/UGwRdb99f9s
experts in the industry, Babak Hodjat, Joe Braidwood, Gary Davis, Chris Arkenberg, Vinod Sirimalle. Thanks Mario Garate Tapia for organizing this great event! The good stuff starts at about 15 minutes in.
Future of Contextual marketing with NextUser: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/10153350595734655/
Ecommerce sites can radically change and improve ROI with a system like NextUser's.
New optical pen is cool: https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/vb.501319654/10153342268984655/
First look at new Sphericam, 360-degree video camera coming later this year.https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/vb.501319654/10153341853324655/
Do you have kids? Here is a great way to keep memories from them around in a private way: Keepy. https://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble/videos/vb.501319654/10153333504864655/?type=2
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