In July 2016, a force was unleashed on the world that nobody saw coming, a cultural phenomenon that turned the entire world into a game and opened up a whole new layer of reality to millions of people.
What was the name of this technological marvel? Pokémon go.
Pokémon go is one of the fastest-growing and most successful phone apps of all time, making over 2 billion dollars for Niantic, the company behind the game, according to the app tracker.
More than 380 million people were using the game at its height, that’s 1 out of every 20 people on earth.
In case you were in a coma in 2016, first, welcome back, and secondly, Pokémon go is an app that you use with the GPS tracker on your phone to lead you to go find Pokémon out there in the world, and when you got there you could see the Pokémon on your phone’s screen, seamlessly integrated with the environment around it.
Kind of like a snapchat filter, the phone presents to you a layer of reality on top of the reality that you’re actually experiencing. Both of these are early examples of what we now call augmented reality and is often the case these fun and frivolous uses of the technology underlie some very significant advancements, that are going to really make huge changes in our lives in the coming years.
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Long before augmented reality became a thing, there was virtual reality which is something that’s always kind of been right there on the fringes. It was always being promised as the next big thing but never quite getting there.
It was supposed to give us the ability to travel without traveling, to experience entirely new worlds, stand on stage at a concert with Rihanna and walk the frozen surface of Pluto, instead of just reading and imagining something, you could be there and experience it, and it was always about 10 years away but there have been some huge advancements in that technology recently.
They’ve had some experts starting to believe that maybe his time has finally come welcome to the age of new realities.
Virtual and augmented? The question becomes which one of these is going to have a more significant impact on our lives.
The world is advancing faster than it ever has before, it’s practically impossible to keep up with the technological advancement today.
There are a plethora of new technologies to keep your eye on, especially if you’re an investor, and it’s your job to know what’s the next big thing. You see something that looks like the next big thing, you put your money into it, they use that money to become the next big thing, and it kind of becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
One of the things that investors are investing heavily in right now is virtual and augmented reality. the worldwide market for AR and VR products in 2018 is expected to be 17.8 billion dollars, but by 2021 that’s expected to go up to 215 billion dollars.
That’s a lot more billion dollars, so companies are racing to be first and best to market with these devices. Facebook Google Apple Samsung HTC Sony Microsoft Intel Amazon even Autodesk is getting in on the action. They’re spending billions of dollars to advance this technology, some of these are already on the market, but this technology is coming and it’s going to affect your life in some way.
When we talk about AR and VR we’re talking about two different things, that both have their own strengths, weaknesses, and uses, so let’s talk about that.
Virtual reality is Total Immersion, you step out of the real world and you step into this game world, or this experiential world, whatever it is, especially if you have headphones on, the real world falls away and you are totally immersed in this virtual one augmented reality.
Kind of goes the other way, it doesn’t want to take you out of the real world, it just wants to enhance it. it wants to apply a layer of reality on top of the reality that you’re experiencing to augment it, if you will actually talk to somebody my age and older you might find that we’re a little more subdued about virtual reality, because we’ve seen all this happen before, we’ve seen the craze with virtual reality happened.
Everything that we’re hearing now we heard a long time ago we’ve seen this movie in the late 80s and early nineties we were told that VR was going to completely transform the way we lived, it was going to change the way we studied, the way we watch TV, play video games, the way we watch movies and help movies, like The Lawnmower Man, basically promised us superpowers through VR, but VR never really got beyond gaming especially in arcade games where you could put a sweaty helmet on your head, 50 other people had worn that day, and spent five minutes in a virtual world while contracting the flu.
Nintendo actually released in 1995 the Virtual Boy which was a huge flop, maybe that’s because the displays were only 224 pixels wide and only used one color — red.
Not to mention there were limited numbers of games available and apparently, the set was really uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time and too expensive for the average gamer, so there were lots of reasons why it didn’t work out.
Basically, there was a lot of hype around VR in the 90s but the technology wasn’t ready to deliver on that hype, and that’s the big difference between then and now. Today we can create photorealistic worlds and display them on high-definition 3d screens and create immersive experiences that are almost indistinguishable from real life.
The R is caught up to the V, oculus rift was the first company to really spur on the new VR craze in 2012 when they launched a massively successful Kickstarter campaign and then were bought by Facebook for 2 billion dollars. It is still one of the top players in the VR world along with HTC and PlayStation.
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These are what are known as tethered devices, meaning, they are connected to a computer that actually does all the processing. This creates a much more robust experience but not much freedom of movement because you’re tied down to a computer.
There are also mobile headsets like the Samsung gear VR in the Google daydream view, where you can just strap a phone in there and use the phone as a display and be able to walk around and do it. everyone knows this is great for more mobility, but the phone screens are not as detailed as the tethered versions, and also the phone is doing all the processing so you don’t have quite as much power as you would have with the computer running things. But these are a good experience, and they’re a lot less expensive.
Let’s switch to augmented reality — does anybody remember when this started happening?
We see it all the time now, we don’t think anything of it, but this is actually really impressive technology. Think about it — it’s happening in real time, it’s tracking along with the camera movement, it goes underneath the players that are running on top of it, and swift chaotic motions. This was a major breakthrough and it’s also one of the first cases of augmented reality. It’s a way to seamlessly add information on top of a real-world situation. The virtual first down marker first showed up in about 1998, and in the 2000s developers started getting their hands-on toolkits just in time for smartphones to become a thing.
Some notable first early uses of AR were codes in print magazines and advertisements, where you could point your phone at it and see extra information, or an animation of some kind pop up in front of you.
Volkswagens Marta app gave service technicians the ability to see what repairs they need to make right in front of them, that was pretty cool.
Over the years more and more AR app started showing up on our phones like Google Translate, which actually translates text right in front of you, which is a must for any travel situation, and plenty of games like the aforementioned Pokémon go.
these are all just whiz-bang toys and tools for phones, but if you really want to get into the promise of augmented reality you got to get into wearable headsets, and for that, you have to talk about Google Glass.
This was kind of the Virtual Boy for the augmented reality world, it was too expensive, did too little and frankly, made you a target for a lot of douche-bag jokes. But hey, it was the first so, credit where it’s due, and just like Oculus rift was the plucky new guy that started up the VR revolution magic leap.
Technology magic leap at the scene in 2014, securing a 15-million-dollar investment in their new technology, which was the largest investment into AR at the time, and they promised to build a headset that would fill the surrounding space with augmented reality.
The virtual retinal display technology, that projects images directly under your eye giving the effect of 3d computer generated images seamlessly integrated into the world around you, was just months ago announced. Their first product, which is called the magic leap, looks like a pair of cyberpunk sunglasses that are connected to a round circular pocket computer. It looks like a Discman from the 90s.
It’s not available to the public just yet, but last week they started sending to developers to create software for it, and apparently, they’re being super secretive about it. part of the deal of sending it to a developer is that they have to keep it when they’re not using it in a locked, safe it’s pretty strict now. What are the chances you’re going to go to the store sometime in the next couple of years and see people walking around like this?
It’s not very likely but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful and having multiple computer screens.