What could make the lights go out on the path to VR?

I have a good friend who once gave a technology talk about chosen paths. He said “sometimes the path you choose isn’t the path you wanted.”

Someone turned off the lights on the path. That was the line we teased him with after his talk. That it was the path you wanted, somebody just turned the lights off while you were walking. He didn’t laugh at the time. I still think it is funny. We also told him not to put a book on every slide but he didn’t listen to that either.

Simple. Brittle. Those are the only words on the slides I have talking about Brittle Computing and the Simple Architecture Movement.

Sometimes as a bleeding edge technologist someone turns off the lights on my path. I know because suddenly what was clear isn’t. Clarity comes in the light and from the light. So like moths technologist, as well as everyone else, seek the light. When the light is off it is harder to see the path you started on.

The path that I see clearly right now is VR in conjunction with CPS (Cyber Physical Systems CPS) where the CPS devices present the components that make up the Virtual Reality. Real time physical security would be greatly improved by VR. If you have a VR system that combines the virtual space with the physical sensors you can use the tracking mechanism in the humans eyes to determine motion. Humans aren’t built to take down elephants, we like dogs and other smaller predators were built to catch smaller creatures like rabbits. Our sensors are drawn to small movement. A virtual map of a physical environment would allow people to scan with the integrated human tracking system and see motion.

3d camera are already on the market with impressive pre “VR” capabilities. Personally I am a huge fan of the Bubl camera. It allows the initial 3d view, a view of reality that can be quickly converted to VR. As the optics improve in these devices there are many possible VR environments that can be captured. Easier to move the physical to the virtual than it is to recreate the physical in the virtual. 3d cameras are the first step in that process (again Bubl rocks in this space!). Photosynth from Microsoft is another interesting tool in the creation of VR. You can take 100 pictures of a space and merge them into an interactive view. The same can be done with cellular video of an event. (see my blog on smart cameras).

So what turns the light off on this path? What will derail VR? First is the cost of the 3d cameras. Today to do a true VR environment that represents exact dimensions and exact placement will require cameras that cost 3000 and more. Really the best way to build the Virtual recreation of reality is to use 3d Laser Mapping cameras. Those tend to start around 20,000 dollars and up. They are also very specialized and limited to indoors (part of exact measurement is bouncing off walls I guess).

Or something new will turn off the VR light. The expansion of what is possible for VR beyond what we consider VR is the easy answer here. But something new and different will also turn off the virtual lights on our path. 3d TV’s were the rage four years ago. Now its 4k TV’s (or Samsung’s UHD). 10 years ago it was all about getting to thinner TV’s. I have an 8 year old plasma that weighs 100 pounds. I have a two year old LCD UHD TV that weighs less than 20 pounds. So something new could derail VR. VR has taken a long time to make it to the consumer market. That is always a directional concern.

So for now, the path I am on is VR. That may change, as path’s sometimes get dark!

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VR Path Futurist