In Age of Context, my earlier book with Robert Scoble, we talked about how rapid and relentless changes in mobile, social, data, location and sensor technologies had caused a freaky factor,one in which the devices we carry were starting to know us better than the people closest to us, and was starting to anticipate what we wanted faster than we could do it ourselves.
As we get deeper into this new contextual phase, it portends to get freakier still, as the technology we use the most starts to be pushed aside by technology that is so different that it alters the user’s sense of reality. Right now this new stuff is causing a stir in games and entertainment. Within the next year we will start experiencing changes that also go into education, health, business, marketing, social interaction and so much more.
At the core of it are three platforms: Facebook’s Oculus Rift; Microsoft’s HoloLens, an impressive attempt for the aging Redmond giant to leapfrog back onto center stage, and Magic Leap, a groundbreaking augmented technology backed by a billion-dollars of smart money including Google and Alibaba. These devices are three of many hardware platforms. There are many more players, some exploring deep niches and some aiming for mainstream adoption.
While the hardware that is now coming out is large and other-worldly to behold, history shows that it will soon be refined and become more fashionable. The real action is in the software that comes in two forms: virtual reality [VT] that immerses users into environments that appear to be real while they are actually illusions, and augmented reality that lets you see what is actually really–but adds something to what you see that is really not there.
Smart hackers can now create all sorts of weird and appealing stuff. A great example is the above holograph created by Oliver Pavicevics who has been working
augmented reality software since 2002, before there were truly smartp hones. I have no idea how he did what you see in the video but the implications go well beyond hackers creating cool stuff to play with. Pavicevics has freelanced for GE, MTV and Fiat among others.
There’s a lot more happening. In just the past two weeks:
Just in the past two weeks, or so:
- Magic Leap, showed it’s very first–and very amazing demo.
- The NY Times and Google cut a deal in which the Times will send 1 million Google Cardboard virtual reality viewers to subscribers so that they can see photos–and advertisements–in new ways.
- A group of German scientists announced they were using a virtual reality program to predict in people under 30, who was likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
- 20th Century Fox will release a virtual reality companion to it’s hit film The Martian, that will significantly enhance movie segments for wearers of Rift and other VR headsets, signalling how movies will soon change for early adopters.
- Sony previewed its new VR Playstation showing breathtaking games where the player is immersed in new forms of games and entertainment which may give them a much-needed edge when–and if– these offering become real in the first half of the next year.
- A little known software company called NextVR has teamed up with the NBA and Turner TV to allow fans to watch the season opener between the world champion Golden State Warriors play the New Orleans Pelicans in virtual real-time. The experience may rival or surpass actually being there since the actual game will surround VR fans as if they were positioned in the center mid-court as the game surrounds them.
I have only been following these two new technologies closely for a few weeks–since the publication of Lethal Generosity, when I started looking around to see what I had missed while my head was down on the book. As has so often been the case, Scoble had his eye on the most interesting stuff and promising new stuff including augmented and virtual reality as well as 365-degree photography. In all three of these cases, users are immersed inside the computing in the same way passengers are immersed inside a swimming pool or perhaps a car.
I got to spend some time with Robert recently in Sydney, Australia. We were both there along with Brian Solis to speak at Telstra Summit 2015, which is one of the best-produced tech conferences in the world, and where all speakers this year seemed to hit it out of the park. Robert’s talk was among the best received. It was themed at what life and business will look like when both move beyond mobile phones.
Perhaps it seems like an odd topic to choose when you are the guest of Australia’s leading phone company. But, as Robert mentioned, Telstra is a digital connectivity company and the need for broadband connection will only increase as people and technology evolve beyond the smartphone the same way business people have evolved beyond the old mainframe in the corporate headquarters basement.
It seems to be a very big thought that will cause a great deal of corporate–and customer–angst. Just when the enterprise is getting comfortable adjusting to Josh Bernoff calls the mobile mindset, Scoble sees a need to adjust again. It means that the Long Tail is about to get longer still as some thought leaders adjust to change while others fall further behind.
All this and so much more.
I am not about to argue that everyone should rush onto this speeding bandwagon tomorrow morning. But I am suggesting that this reality altering stuff is already on a speeding bandwagon and the rate of speed is likely to accelerate in the nearterm future. It would be unwise to just stand and watch, or so it seems to me.