Fighting over VR and Facebook’s Oculus Quest

Ahh, a 20-something-year-old guy was over the house tonight. We almost got in a fight over VR. Tried to tell me something other than the Oculus Quest is better after seeing the Quests on the floor and declaring “I would never buy one of those.” I tried to tell him the press, like CNET, was saying it’s the product of the year.

I almost eviscerated him with the research I was doing for our book and research reports we’re working on for our company but remembered that I have been arrogant and wrong like he was many times in the past and that I just don’t need the drama so I put my metaphorical weapons away and went to my corner to sulk and think about where people like him get their opinions.

After he left I said heck with it and wrote this post, but will keep his name out of this.

After all, it’s obvious he had never played with all the headsets yet he was so certain of his opinions and if he had he hadn’t spent more than a few minutes with each, which isn’t enough time to get a real opinion about the ecosystem of each. He got under my skin, mostly because he reminded me of myself.

Another thought. He reminded me of the nerds across my career who have made me feel like I didn’t know anything, so two triggers were pulled. The Unix ones in college who made me feel like the Macintosh I was using wasn’t “a real tool.” They all ended up using one within a few years. Or the people who didn’t want to join me on Twitter. Some of them now are running social media for big corporations. Or the other people who tried to push me to buy a Windows Phone, or other things that ended up failing in the marketplace.

Everyone has opinions, even me, and I’m often wrong too, I remind myself tonight, and even when I’m right no one really cares. Those who are wrong rarely admit they are wrong. Often they dig in their heels deeper before getting a clue that they are on the wrong side of history. Some of my friends kept using Windows Phones for years after the market had declared them dead and lame. One family member is STILL using a Windows Phone and called me a couple of weeks ago worried because Microsoft had announced it wasn’t going to be supported anymore. He was finally accepting that the world had moved on.

So, I quiet my soul, go back to the book I’m writing after interviewing captains of industry with the awesome Irena Cronin all week (these are all people who are doing amazing things in factories with VR and AR and associated tech) and I’ll have the last laugh. Or not. It doesn’t really matter.

But there isn’t a better product right now for the money and for the everyday consumer than the Oculus Quest. It’s a shame that my 20-something debate partner couldn’t shut up long enough to get me to turn mine on. He might have learned something. That’s the real lost opportunity for both of us tonight. I had the other product he was yakking about as well. It isn’t nearly as good for the price.

He would have learned why CNET is naming it the best so far of the standalone systems. He would have understood why I haven’t played our “bigger and more expensive and more ‘pro'” systems since getting the Quest even though they display more polygons and “technically” are better. In usage, though, they aren’t, at least in our house. The tether on the bigger systems just totally kills the experience and for many things the extra polygons don’t really bring much extra to the table. The Quest is so magical that if he had tried it on he would have seen that, but he had already decided it was lame before he got a chance.

We can use the Quest pretty much anywhere we want, while the bigger system is stuck in my office and, since I’m writing a book that system isn’t nearly as accessible to family and friends as the Quest is. Lately it’s been getting a lot more software too, because it’s selling somewhat decently and developers are taking note of reviews like the one in CNET I just posted here.

Ahh, anyone else get wound up about technology like I do?

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Spatial Computing at SXSW 2020; Is This the Year of XR?

I attended SXSW 25 times. Crazy, huh? Those days are probably over for me, it’s time for someone else to have some fun eating BBQ and walking down Sixth in Austin while hanging out with the creative people in the industry. That said, I’ve been keeping track of all the panel pitches I’ve seen that have anything to do with Spatial Computing and here’s the list. If you have others to add, please add them on my LinkedIn post where I collected all these.

Why am I only caring about spatial computing, which is computing that humans, robots, or virtual beings can move through. Everything from autonomous vehicle systems to augmented reality?

Because I see this as a real paradigm shift in how computing works. After doing this list it’s clear a huge shift is underway. It’s very rare you see so many proposals on one topic.

As a researcher in the field I find that the proposals show you what motivates people and what the opportunities are in a new industry. Plus, this is a great way to build a database of “who is who” in the spatial computing field (each URL lists the panelists).

Please vote for your favorites. These are in alphabetical order.

5G AND ITS ROLE WITH TECHNOLOGY IN THE ENTERPRISE. Organizer Hannah Young.

AUGMENTED REALITY AND FOOD: THE FUTURE OF DINING. Organizer Matt Maher.

AUGMENTED REALITY AND FOOD. Organizer Sayuri Okayama.

AUGMENTED REALITY GOES PRIMETIME. Organizer Liz David.

AUGMENTED REALITY MONUMENTS IN PUBLIC SPACES. Organizer: Glenn Cantave.

BBC EARTH – FACTUAL STORYTELLING WITH MAGIC LEAP. Organizer: Oscar Swedrup.

BRAND STORYTELLING IN A WORLD OF SPATIAL COMPUTING. Organizer Natascha French.

CAN XR SAVE JOURNALISM? Organizer Laura Hertzfeld.

CHANGING THE IMMERSIVE STORYTELLING WILD WEST. Organizer Sarah Ellis.

CONTENT CREATORS IN THE AGE OF EXPERIENCE. Organizer Kevin Ang.

CORPORATES LIVING IN THE NEW REALITIES. Organizer Adaora Udoji.

CREATING BRILLIANT STORIES AND EXPERIENCES IN AR. Organizer: Larry Lac.

DEALING WITH REAL-WORLD PROBLEMS IN XR. Organizer Ilena Parker.

DESIGN CHALLENGES FOR VR PRACTITIONERS. Organizer Moya Baldry.

DEVELOPING THE NEXT REALITY OF OUR LIVES: SPATIAL. Organizer Tricia Katz.

DIRECTING IMMERSIVE PERFORMANCE FOR THE MR STAGE. Organizer Maya Georgieva.

EMPATHY MACHINE: HOW VR CONNECTS PEOPLE & CAUSES. Organizer Temma Martin.

EYES OFF THE ROAD! UNIVERSAL’S DRIVE FOR IN-CAR VR. Organizer Jude Forbes.

FUTURE OF HUMAN CONNECTION. Organizer Cezara Windrem.

GET READY FOR THE VOLUMETRIC REVOLUTION. Organizer Todd Bryant.

HARNESSING THE HOLODECK: VR, WORK & SOCIETY. Organizer: Anne Hobson.

HOW CAN WE MOVE AR BEYOND JUST BEING A TECH DEMO? Organizer Nick Bicanic.

IMMERSIVE DESIGN AT FALLINGWATER. Organizer Ashley Andrykovitch.

LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD IN XR. Organizer Russ Unger.

LOVE, MEMES AND THE FUTURE OF XR HUMAN CONNECTION. Organizer Lucas Rizzotto.

MULTIPLAYER AR LESSONS IN THE STREETS & CLASSROOM. Organizer Glenn Cantave.

ON BRAND PODCAST: HOW TO BUILD A VR BRAND. Organizer Nick Westergaard.

PIONEERING THE SPATIAL WEB & BRINGING MR TO LIFE. Organizer John Costelo.

PLACEMAKING WITH AUGMENTED REALITY. Organizer Julia Beabout.

POWERING STEAM THROUGH INTERACTIVE XR EDUTAINMENT. Organizer Jason Cangialosi.

READY LEARNER ONE: EXPLORING THE AR & VR FRONTIER. Organizer: Christine Lion-Bailey.

SEEING IS BELIEVING. Organizer: Prashanthan Ganeswaran.

SEE ME, SMELL ME, TOUCH ME! Organizer Charlotte Mikkelborg.

SO, YOUR CLIENT WANTS YOU TO MAKE A BLACK MIRROR? Organizer Eric Navarrette.

SUPERPOWERED OR ENSLAVED–THE FUTURE OF XR. Organizer: Avi Bar-Zeev.

THE AUGMENTED WORKFORCE: AI, AR, 5G CHANGE EVERYTHING. Organizer: Cathy Hackl.

THE CASE FOR THE CONT. CONVERGENCE OF AR & MEDIA. Organizer Ray Soto.

THE FUTURE IS ACCESSIBLE – ACCESSIBILITY IN XR. Organizer Andrew Eiche.

THE FUTURE IS AUGMENTED: WHAT AR MEANS FOR HUMANS. Organizer Aleissia Laidacker.

THE FUTURE OF ENTERTAINMENT IN A 5G WORLD. Organizer Tim Turpin.

THE FUTURE OF LIVE MUSIC: BLENDED REALITIES. Organizer Ryan Groves.

THE RENEWED RELEVANCE OF PHYSICALITY IN XR. Organizer: Ryan Groves.

THE SOCIAL PLATFORM FOR VIRTUAL REALITY CONCERTS. Organizer: Fabio Buccheri.

VIRTUAL BEINGS: THE FUTURE OF INFLUENCE HAS BEGUN. Organizer: Raymond Mosco.

VOLUMETRIC DOCUMENTARY; MAKING “THE CHOICE VR”. Organizer: Tom Hall.

VR/XR IN FORMAL AND INFORMAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. Organizer: Rebecca Hite.

VR TIMELINE: FROM IDEA TO YOUR OWN REALITY. Organizer: Alex Dovzhikov.

WHAT AUGMENTED DRIVING WILL FEEL LIKE. Organizer: Theo Calvin.

WOMEN IN XR & AI MEETUP. Organizer: Martina Welkhoff

XR & BRANDS: ADVERTISING IN FOUR DIMENSIONS. Organizer Samantha Wolfe.

XR: BIKE SAFETY, MUSIC AND BUBIKO FOODTOUR. Organizer: Stephen Black.

XR BREAKTHROUGHS & THE FUTURE OF WORK IN EDUCATION. Organizer Alexis Seeley.

XR MEANS BUSINESS! Organizer Andy Chavez.

Hollywood shows jobs of the future: Spatial Computing camera systems

We all know lots of jobs will go away in the next decade or two. When I visited Tesla’s factory this year I noticed about 20% more robots than when I visited last year. Take that trend out a decade or two and we can predict many jobs will go away.

For my sons that might be dismal news. After all, they will be entering the job market in the 2030s. Will there be any jobs?

I’ve never been more optimistic that, yes, there will be. My visit this week to Radiant Images showed the new jobs that are being designed right now. This lab builds camera systems for Hollywood movies. I started up my 360-degree camera and interviewed cofounder Michael Mansouri inside one of his camera arrays that do both volumetric and light field captures. My cofounder, Irena, and I spent a day there with our company, Infinite Retina, working for a client (can’t name the client but lots of you drink their product).

His cameras operate at 500 frames a second, are 5K each, and synch up with specialized new strobe lights. All of which didn’t exist a few years ago.

I’m hearing that Apple will announce a new visor next year that will do augmented and virtual reality. If we get nerdy, we call that “mixed reality,” but when talking to Michael we talked about how people will expect entertainment to soon change and Hollywood is already starting to change to prepare. I rather call these things Spatial Computing Imaging Systems because the cameras themselves aren’t mixed reality, they just enable that. Spatial Computing is computing you, a robot, or a virtual being can move around in, and if you look at it that way you can see many new projects coming that need arrays of cameras and the associated artificial intelligence to deal with the datasets they generate.

If you walk around and meet his workers they are materials engineers, computer scientists, data scientists. All to make a movie, or whatever we call mixed reality entertainment projects.

So, we need to find a way to take truck drivers, factory workers, and others who will be laid off in the 2020s due to the forces of automation, and get them technical skills to work in Hollywood and other industries to build new robots, new automation systems, new ways to see the world.

That seems like a daunting problem, but I recently visited a new school, 42 Silicon Valley, which took a former chef with no technical skills, and now he’s started a VR company. This school charges no fees. Has no teachers. But requires students to give a year or two of their lives to fully immerse themselves in learning a new skill.

I wish policy makers would change from discussing guaranteed minimum income, which will never be enough and will doom humans to dismal mission-less lives, and focus on giving people the capital to go through schools like that virtually.

Real revolutions are coming to education, training, entertainment, and other things (at the end of the video we hinted how Tesla is gathering data to make fully autonomous cars possible).

Michael shows there’s plenty of “new jobs” but we need to both see that there are plenty of new jobs and then we need to have policies (and technologies) in place to help us retrain millions of workers for them.

In any case, new forms of entertainment are coming and Michael’s cameras are ready for the storytellers of the future to bring them to us. That, too, will require new devices. Apple, Magic Leap, Facebook, Microsoft, and many others are coming with those devices in the first half of the 2020s. What a decade ahead there is.