I was recently invited to speak at the Internet Dating Conference in Miami about Augmented and Virtual Reality and their effect on the dating industry, so I thought I would share my views on how the Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality and their applications can change our lives.
IN THE FUTURE, WE WILL LIVE IN MIXED REALITY
Futurists predict that we will live in mixed reality with robots and virtual creatures existing alongside us and interacting with us. Hollywood keeps actively pursuing these ideas in such movies as Lawnmower Man, Matrix, I Robot, Surrogates, Minority Report, Avatar, and many others. We will also communicate and interact with real people like us in the virtual, fully artificial and computer-generated, worlds. Philip Rosedale’s High Fidelity or the first “VR sociable network” vTime would be good examples. HBO just issued a new series about Mixed Reality named Westworld where real people ("guests") can travel to a simulated world and live and interact with programmed androids ("hosts"). I am sure there is much more to that than we could see in the first season, so we will have to wait for the new seasons.
I haven’t seen any companies which would allow you to interact with your friends in the virtual reality world while looking exactly as you are (not your computer avatar) yet, but I am sure there are teams working on this already. Some people including scientists, philosophers and investors (among them is Elon Musk) think that we might already be living in a simulation. Mixed and Augmented Reality companies Magic Leap and Meta are working to make the wildest dreams of any futurist come true.
By now, everybody in the industry knows the expected market size – $150 B for AR/VR market by 2022 with the exponential growth starting in 2019. Today, Angel.co lists 1,104 VR companies and 752 AR companies. Facebook, Apple, Microsoft all have divisions who work on VR/AR/MR applications and products. There is no doubt that these technologies created by large and small companies will shape the future of humanity. We may, as well, end up having no computers, no phones, no TV sets, no radios, no photo cameras – no devices at all, except for maybe just a pair of contact lenses, through which we would be able to communicate with the external world. This may happen sooner than anyone would expect.
Leap Motion allows you to interact with virtual and augmented environments by touching the objects, moving them, playing with them. They already have the technology that allows you to see your 3D-modeled hands in virtual reality and this may be the first step towards “real” virtual reality. Microsoft has demonstrated its Holoportation technology which allows people to virtually (and very realistically to the others) be present at any place anywhere in the world. In this case, “the world” is not limited to the Earth, but can be any other place anywhere in the Universe. Our world will literally have no physical borders anymore: you wouldn’t need to take time to fly, drive or go anywhere, you will be able to “get” to the point of your destination in seconds. We will be able to “live” in any place on Earth, other planets or even in our own created world. If this all turns true, why would you want to own a car, go on a date or travel when you can have it all in your own surprisingly real virtual world with no effort? Scary and exciting, isn’t it? However, this may as well be the world our children and, more than likely, us too, will live in.
Many people already tried virtual reality headsets (Oculus, Samsung Gear VR, Vive and others) and know how VR feels. What they see through these headsets does look very real. When you are riding the virtual rollercoaster you can’t help but fall if the car goes down because your brain doesn’t distinguish between “real” reality and “virtual” reality, even though you consciously realize that you are just standing in the middle of the room wearing the VR headset. And now imagine sitting in your dining room and talking to your cousin who you haven’t seen for 20 years and who lives thousands of miles away from you, – and that cousin sitting next to you is nothing more than a hologram. You can still feel as if she is real, as if she is physically there with you and you can almost touch her but in reality she is still thousands of miles away. By the way, there are companies which work on digitizing senses. One of them, for example, digitizes smells and allows you to add scents to your text messages or books. Obviously, we will turn the whole world into a digital platform – and our own playground – soon and people will be able to feel, touch, smell and see whatever they wish. All this technology will be available at our fingertips and will be so cheap anyone will be able to afford it.
And this is just the beginning. I think no one can fully imagine how different our world will be in just a few years from now. As Neal Stephenson said, it’s becoming more difficult to predict the future because the process of innovation is not concentrated in the hands of large companies anymore, it comes from all over the world. There is obviously a huge technology revolution underway, which changes how people communicate, travel, learn, play, fall in love, spend leisure time, and even though there is no doubt our lives will change forever, it is hard to estimate the real magnitude of this profound change.
Life Explorer and Startup Consultant. Moving quickly towards total happiness. :)