To Understand Virtual Reality, First Try To Understand Reality

Looking through the content available to VR as well as what has been available in earlier forms, much of it can only be described as tropes. A flying person above a landscape or walking near natural wonders. Users in weird costumes interacting in a wide, open street, perhaps watching something happen together. Weirdly beautiful architecture.

Where did this come from? And will it succeed in captivating people day-to-day? Will it go beyond spectacle?

Instead of reading Howard Rheingold perhaps we ought to have been reading Jane Jacobs. Cathedrals and natural wonders are truly uplifting places, but most human activity occurs in the bazaar and all other areas more directly reflecting the daily needs of people.

And yes, those places are messy.

The street is a highly evolved environment and put to the test every day. Even the numerous (but less useful) “grand projects” built by powerful individuals will, given enough time, be modified to be more immediately useful. The most controlled, austere spaces will all come to allow a guy to set up a hot dog stand.

So why not accommodate normal human activity from the get-go?

The more I think about it, the more I see that narrow streets for shops, cafes, galleries, and street stands will be key components of the VR future.

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HoloLens, Windows Holographic, HPUs

Hold onto your hats, the vapor might actually be real! At least we hope it is.

Interesting things from Microsoft’s announcement:
- a self-contained visor that augments reality
- a see-through holographic display mechanism
- adding AR support to Windows and major applications
- a special processor for handling the reality and the augmentation (the “HPU”)

Spending billions on R&D can and does pay off royally — sometimes.

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Alex Kipman Does It Again: The HoloLens

Minecraft in your living room.

Minecraft in your living room.

Microsoft unveiled the HoloLens, an AR headset with a built-in computer. You’ll have to wait until Win10 is out before purchasing one.

In the demo video, Skype and Minecraft are used, as well as various utilities and 3D creative tools. As it has in the past, Microsoft leverages their software offerings and overall platform in order to strengthen the market position of their hardware.

Yet even with this latest device, MS continues to strongly encourage and incentivize other hardware vendors to participate.

“We’ve worked on this program for years …Oculus, Magic Leap, Google Glass developers, we humbly invite you, come develop software with us.”
- Alex Kipman
Source: Polygon article by Megan Farokhmanesh.

The info-tech industry rocks our world yet again, bringing to fruition ideas that have been in the primordial soup of academia and R&D labs for decades.

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Squeezing More Lens Into Your VR Headset

Gizmodo posted a fantastic article about the VR platform and content being developed at Magic Leap. At the core of what may drive their augmented reality tech is a new kind of lens for scanning and projecting.

scanning_fiber_projector

Scanning laser projectors sweep one or more beams of luminance-
modulated light in a scan pattern to form an image. The approach
offers a number of advantages in the construction of 3D displays,
compared with conventional matrix-based display technologies
such as LCD, DLP, and OLED. Because the image is formed by a
single scanning pixel rather than an array of pixels, scanning laser
displays can enable significant display miniaturization that is
decoupled from display resolution.

Source: 3D Displays using Scanning Laser Projection
Brian T. Schowengerdt, Richard S. Johnston, C. David Melville, Eric J. Seibel Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

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How to Get People to Pay Attention

A machine-generated signal often fails to hold our attention for very long. However, when the signal is someone else’s ongoing creation, engagement can be very high.

In this case, Smart built a video capture mechanism that converts dance moves into a “Do Not Walk” signal.

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