VR and mixed reality is moving along much faster than most may have thought it would. Although mass consumer products are not quite here, this holiday season should be ground zero for the launch of our real immersion into virtual and augmented worlds. Defining the world we are discussing, virtual reality immerses the user into a simulated world creating a designed experience. Augmented reality is an overlay of information on your world. And mixed reality aims to erase the lines between the real world and simulated images blending them together into one experience.
What’s happened in the past eight months? A lot! Content creators and platform manufacturers are raising money and developing partnerships at a rapid pace. Here are a few examples:
Live Nation, the country’s largest concert promoter and music event producer, has partnered with NextVR. NextVR struck a multi-year deal for live music events. Although these events will start as free content, the offering will eventually include pay-per-view, which could become a major new revenue stream for the music industry.
Sony has announced that it will be releasing Play Station VR in October 2016. The real news is that you will be able to experience the virtual gaming world (and hopefully others) without having to own a high end gaming computer to run it like you do with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
Microsoft has released the HoloLense, in their words it is “Mixed reality blends 3D holographic content into your physical world, giving your holograms real-world context and scale, allowing you to interact with both digital content and the world around you.” Although this is an amazing product and will have many uses, but the headset does not surround you in a virtual world, its holographic images are confined to a specific are in the center of your view. The HoloLense is an amazing product, but it seems to be developed for a different purpose than some of the other products and platforms.
Microsoft HoloLense – Video showing capabilities
Magic Leap, maybe the company with the biggest buzz and who is furthest along in the mixed reality space, has partnered with Lucas Films and ILMxLAB to make not only entertainment come alive as never before, but they will eventually make these lovable characters into personal virtual assistants that overlay on the background and fabric of your real life. Magic Leap is developing a computing platform to enable people to combine a digital experience in their physical lives, through its Mixed Reality Lightfield technology. Magic Leap has already raised over $1.4 billion dollars and has built a factory to produce their product in Florida.
In virtual reality, the sticking point is the hardware or lenses you view content through. This is where Magic Leap differs from the Oculus, Samsung, or Sony. They believe that any attempt to mimic or trick the human eye will never be as good as the most complex and efficient viewer in the world – namely, the human eye and the visual cortex. This is why they believe the best path to an immersive experience that makes the virtual part of reality is by projecting directly onto the human eye.
Their CEO Rony Abovitz said “Why build an inferior screen or device when you’re eyes and your brain?”. Based on current funding, $500 million from Google, Almost $800 million through Alibaba, and the who’s who already involved with the company, his vision may soon be your new reality.
Magic Leap will place things (content, search, information, story, entertainment, etc.) into your world that will simply happen within your world around you. The world will be the backdrop for your mixed reality experiences. Imagine what this will do to the retail experience, home entertainment, and many other industries.
This mixed reality world will also change how story, entertainment, and data will flow through the ‘always-on everywhere’ world. It will require a new understanding of how fantasy integrates with reality. This means you will now perceive things in your world and space. These things will eventually stop becoming media and will simply become a part of your perceived world – the ultimate blend of fantasy and reality.
The technology stimulates neurological reality bordering on delivering perceptual media. A lot to wrap your head around? This will lead to having your brain believe what you see, weaving the virtual and the real worlds into one.
I am not sure if I am ready for that; for now, a headset and some cool virtual content will need to be my first step into a new reality.
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