March 11, 2015

Improbable Insights : Episode 2 : Commentary

We've posted Improbable Insights Episode 2. We are on a roll!

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AR/VR will undoubtedly come up a lot on this podcast in the coming months. After 20 years of false starts, most believe this wave of alternate reality innovation is finally the beachhead to a significant change in the way we interact with content. We finally have an affordable baseline in terms of compute, graphics, display, input, and sensor technology to create alternate realities. Woo freakin' hoo!

This transition will not come overnight. If you believe the hype, the core technology is done and everyone will be using AR and VR in a short time. I believe what we'll experience is a beachhead, a first footing that moves the roadblock to AR/VR adoption from hardware to user experience and content. Hardware will continue to improve at a breakneck pace, but we can now create an alternate reality that fragilely suspends disbelief and doesn't cause immediate nausea ;-) Hardware (affordances) will have to improve significantly to capture unimpeded high-accuracy movement, and we'll be on a perpetual voyage to increase visual fidelity and field of vision while maintaining high fps. But we're over the first hump.

What we don't have a firm grasp on is what content and user experiences work in this medium. We have a decent corpus of research, great demos, and a few amazing games, but we don't yet have a full end to end experience. There is no desktop analog for a 3D interface to crib from. While we create 3D immersive game environments and movies, we have to learn which of these experiences maps well to AR and or VR, let alone how long AV/VR experiences should be relative to fatigue and motion sickness. We have new interfaces and paradigms to explore and refine. I can't wait to see how we intuitively implement natural interaction with objects. Will we rely on virtual arms and hands, or explore alternate ideas? How does one explore and purchase content in 3space? How reliant will this be on text, which is harder to read on current displays at smaller font size.

So many exciting things to explore! Loyd and I will riff on differing levels of technology adoption in a upcoming podcast, and I think these early days of AR/VR are for hackers and early adopters who are ready for plenty of jagged edges and continual change in the name of refinement. Whatever you buy now will rapidly become obsolete. I think it will be 2-3 years (from the 2015 holiday selling season) of refinement before the cost, complexity, and content of AR/VR reach the mainstream audience. But these coming years will be a glorious time filled with things that challenge our imagination and set the stage for an amazing future.

I'm personally hacking at the intersection of physical and virtual gaming. I am really intrigued by forthcoming AR products like castAR. Skylanders, Disney Infinity, and Amiibo are just the beginning...

Now to put my DK2 back on and play Elite!

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ugh, the agony of keyboards. I want to become comfortable with one keyboard layout to use with gaming, general use, and programming on both Mac and Windows. I'd like a good mechanical keyboard, but how does one decide amongst the myriad of options, including what Cherry key "weight" to select? I'd love a service where I could rent a keyboard for a week and make sure it will be the right one for years to come. Alas, I'm not sure there is a viable business model behind that, so I'll have to make some educated guesses and be prepared to write-down a mistake or two. I think I'll start with the Das Keyboard 4 Professional...

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