VR - a redefining technology or heroin for the masses?
Addictive and disruptive
With 2017 upon us, Virtual Reality has been generating a huge buzz for over a year now. Many are saying that this year will be the year when VR finally breaks through. And rightly so, as we are seeing all the signs which point in that direction. The Facebook’s recent 2 Billion dollar investment in Oculus technology, with Samsung’s off-the-shelf Gear VR, and with a host of other companies like HT, LG and Sony coming to the table. Most of these companies have a very different view on the near-future of a technology which is still in its infancy.
I would like to share with you just some of these visions, both the more utopian ones as well as those filled with a pervading scepticism. And maybe rightly so as VR might just become the most addictive technology made available to humankind.
However we choose to look upon this technology, one thing is for sure. It might be just the most disruptive technology to ever appear in our society, one with the potential to change the way we connect, interact and live our lives, forever.
Virtual Reality overlord makes his entrance
Virtual reality as well as Augmented reality are reaching a crucial momentum this year. this couldn’t be more noticable than on the Samsung’s latest product launch of the Galaxy Samsung S7. Although the event was mostly dedicated to another reiteration of the familiar mobile phone, the most interesting part of the event was when Samsung introduced their continuation of their eqiuiment Gear VR and their new Camera VR.
Gear VR is cheap headset which uses their Galaxy phone as the screen and the Camera VR is a simple two-way camera with 180 degree lenses which records two streams of video and then stitches them together to generate a VR stream inside the phone. Although far from perfect this is one of the easiest to use and cheapest solutions available on the market for recording VR experiences.
But what was really interesting was the visit from Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg. His, now infamous, entrance at the event gathered a storm of reactions on the net. They were mainly due to the possibly prophetic nature of the image, depicting a horde of journalists hooked up the the VR goggles, while their Overlord (Mark Zuckerberg) passes his minions with a grin on his face.
Surely this was not intended, but the image does hold a dark subtext, suggesting a direction for which our society might be heading for. Will we all end up as addicted, drugged VR-zombies in the near future, hooked up to a full blown, 100% visceral experience which Virtual Reality promises to become?
Or are we just fear mongering a worst case scenario of our future?
And Virtual Reality will turn out to be the most effective, and postively disruptive technology so far. Let’s see how the future might unfold.
VR – our future reimagined and fast-forwared
In the next two to three years we will see an explosion in the usage of different fields where VR will make a huge difference. As screen resolutions will begin to match our brain input, the pixel size of the VR displays will get so fine grained that we won’t be able to see we are actually looking at a screen.
This will be the magical moment where we won’t be able to tell the difference from the reality. And this will actually happen a lot sooner than we think. If you are in doubt just go to a bigger electronic outlet and check out the newest 100 inch Samsung ultra HD TVs.
This quite immersive size of the screen combined with the 4K resolution results already in that eerie feeling of looking in through a window, into another reality. So it’s not hard to imagine what a good VR display, with it’s different forms for tracking your head/eye/body movement, will be able to deliver.
Yet the pixel density is only the beginning towards a future where the real and the virtual will melt in unison.
There are three different tracking technologies which will see the light of day in the next 3-4 years. We already have head tracking but we will see face tracking, eye tracking, Eye tracking will allow the virtual Reality to react to where we focus our eyes.
But even more uncanny will be Face Tracking which will allow our face and its emotions to be “transplanted” onto our virtual self, the digital avatar. This will of course make possible all sorts of interactions in the digital environment.
Smile and your avatar will smile just the way you do. Cry and the same expresssion will become apparent in the virtual world. Think of the film Avatar and how they facee tracked and transformed the facial expressions onto the digital puppets. This will be possible, only in real time, in the comfort of your home and your trusty sofa.
So where is this heading?
If you can be present anywhere at the flick of a wrist, with a digital actor which is exactly like yourself, only better and more perfect, why would you want to travel anywhere, when you can do business, be social, meet everyone in a split second.
Yes, this opens up mind boggling possibilities, and if you think Facebook’s, Twitters, Whatsappps social media channels changed our society in the relatively short time, just wait wht will happen when everyone will log onto a virtual Metaverse, just like our world, where one can be, do and attain everythin on one’s wildest dreams?
Why go to the local school, when you can go to the best schools in the Metaverse, with the best teachers (probably not real people but some forms of advanced A.I.s)?
All sorts of business interactions, social interactions, tourism, you name it, will be changed beyond our recognition. Yet, this is only the beginning.
“Be careful about virtual relationships with artificially intelligent pieces of software” – Larry Ellison
Virtual Reality seen through the Ray Kurzweil distortion field
The famous futurist Ray Kurzweil, whose predictions have been eerily accurate for the past 20 years, has come with the following ideas where our society is heading in the two decades.
By the early 2020s we will be routinely working and playing with each other in full immersion visual- auditory virtual environments. Just the way today you have people beaming their lives from their apartments using Webcams, people will be beaming their entire flow of sensory experiences. Rather than just watching their apartment, you will actually experience their sensory experiences–and their emotional reactions.
The telephone is virtual reality in that you can meet with someone as if you are together, at least for the auditory sense.We’ve now added the visual sense with video conferencing – – although not yet 3D and full immersion.
The visual sense will become full immersion over the next decade. We’ll also be able to augment real reality so that I could see you sitting on the coach in my living room and you could see me sitting on your back porch, even though we’re hundreds of miles apart.
By 2030 we will see full-immersion, shared, virtual-reality environments, or spaces, involving all the senses, where we can actually go inside our bodies and brains and tap into the flow of signals coming from our senses. We will also add the tactile sense to full immersion virtual reality.
Several technologies will be involved: Amongst them the latest in Nanotech where billions of nanobots, or little microscopic blood-cell-sized robots, communicate with each other over a wireless local area network and also with the Internet; and miniaturization, so you could make these complex devices very small.
Another technology that exists today, in crude form, is the neuron transistor, an electronic device that can communicate with a biological neuron in both directions wirelessly. If the neuron fires, which is a primary way of making a decision, it creates an electromagnetic pulse that’s easy for this piece of electronics to pick up. The device can also create an electromagnetic pulse and trigger the neuron to fire or suppress it from firing.
So you have billions of nanobots taking up positions in the capillaries next to every nerve fiber coming from all of your senses. If you want to be in real reality, the nanobots sit there and do nothing, and you experience the world in the normal way. But let’s say you want to leave real reality. This will shut down the signals coming from your real senses and replace them with the signals you would be receiving if you were in the virtual environment.
10 Billion VR-Zombies drugged on the Metaverse with overlord master Zuckerberg
So with all this mindboggling technology, are we bound to reap unimaginable benefits of the mankind or will we see the murkiest worst case scenarious fulfill themselves?
I am convinced that both versions of this future might come to pass in parallel.
In our hyper diverse world, branching out each day into a million different varations of itself, it would be naive to think we will only get one utopia or just one dystopia.
Yet considering the completely immersive nature of this technology, how will we as human beings avoid maybe the biggest pit fall of them all? Getting hooked on this alternate reality, up to a point where it will be the preffered way to live, to sustain onself, and probably to acheive happiness.
When you think about it, it is not that far fetched. Our planet, with its dwindling resources, can’t possibly sustain the amount of people which are here now. So with less resources and less probabilty each one of us might actually make a sustainable living, where do we turn?
Surely it would have to be towards a virtual Metaverse where every one of us can be granted anything we wish, where each one of us can fulfill our wildest fantasies.
The book “Ready player one” predicts a future just like that. A real world so overpopulated, and poor it is dying under its own weight. And the only place where people can flee to is the Virtual Reality haven which is given to every one of them.
Turning everybody into the Zombie army of Big Data code, ready to be commercialised and sold off to the latest Ad Sense version of FacebookVerse’s algorithms.
Or maybe I am just being way too fatalistic…?
As long as I can remember, a part of me has always been a keen, albeit very quiet, observer of the world around me. And another part has been a wide-eyed wonder boy who, from the get go, wanted to escape into another dimension, some yet undiscovered version of the land of Oz.
This combination of character has, on more than one occasion, shown itself to be a tad aggravating, and maybe even quite unfortunate to the outside world. And since my verbal skills are still locked away in some deep recess of my being, a talent still awaiting discovery, I had no other choice than to become a visual storyteller dressed up as filmmaker. During that process I also fell in love with words, quite many of them, actually. Since then, there was no turning back, and I became a scribe of the written word.
Through this blog, and through my stories, be they written or told in moving images, I would like to share with you what I feel, think and dream of. And if anything on this blog connects with you, mail me, I would love to hear about it.