A look at a future XR with IFTF’s Toshi Anderson Hoo

It’s not easy to formulate exactly what Toshi Anderson Hoo plans to do during his main Data Center World conference in Orlando later this month. It will be something like an E-ticket trip to Disneyland (E-tickets gave you access to all the latest and current stuff from decades ago), but with work themes and in XR.

“If all goes well and the people at Data Center World are fine [internet] connections, I will enter virtual reality and the public will see what I will do, “he told DCK.” I will interact with some colleagues from Sweden and the East Coast. We’re going to bring not just people, but my Google Docs presentation, or a 3D model I just scanned in the room. That kind of connectivity is the kind of vision that I think people have to see to make it useful. “

The “it” is XR, which is usually called “extended reality”. Hoo prefers the term “cross-reality” and says it “encompasses virtual reality, augmented reality, but also includes other technologies, such as web conferencing or in-person meeting technologies.”

The future of XR as an emerging medium

Hoo is the director of the Institute for the Future’s Emerging Media Laboratory (IFTF), a Palo Alto-based nonprofit think tank that left the RAND Corporation in 1968 to help organizations plan long-term future. According to Hoo, the roots of IFTF are deeply intertwined with computer technology and the Internet.

“Could this type of distributed electronic communication system be used for anything other than academic or military use cases?” it’s kind of a question that some of the first computer scientists who worked at ARPANET would explore, he said. “Maybe this will really change the world and we need to start thinking about these futures, because this will be a transformative moment for humanity,” they wondered, he said.

While the organization is blatantly futuristic (IFTF programs are usually a decade ahead), it doesn’t pretend to look like a crystal ball.

“It’s beyond most organizations that plan horizons, so it helps you think differently, but it’s not that far from unimaginable,” Hoo said.

“We don’t think anyone can predict the future, but you can think more creatively and strategically about the future and we’ve developed a whole set of methodologies to do that.”

The Emerging Media Laboratory is “looking to the future of human communication, human collaboration and human connection through the lens of emerging media technologies,” he explained.

Data Center World will take place live, in Orlando and digitally, anywhere, from August 16-19. Learn more and sign up here.

“We have a very broad definition of media, similar to the MIT Media Lab, where we see that media is anything that mediates human communication, collaboration, and connection. So this can be high-tech Internet. or it may be a piece of paper “.

The road ahead of XR

According to Hoo, to understand the impact that new technology will have on people and culture, it is necessary to examine the impact that past technologies had when they became part of everyday life.

“In the Age of the Machine we see not only our universe as a machine, but we see our body as a machine and adopt this metaphor in all our different types of knowledge disciplines,” he said.

“The same thing has happened with computers in our lives. Now we need to have computer skills to participate socially, professionally and politically, so the forecast here with simulation knowledge is that in the coming years, as the technologies of Simulation become as easy as dragging and dropping PowerPoint, it integrates into workflows and social experiences, even in political activities. “

Hoo it seems certain that XR will become an integral part of the computer paradigm as soon as it is perceived as more than just a toy for gamers.

“For most people who have experienced a virtual reality experience or RA or XR experience today, it has been created by a computer programmer or a game developer, and this is a very small segment of our population. “, he said. “It’s usually a game or a technology show, and not everyone is interested in it.”

This will change as soon as people discover that virtual or augmented reality headphones have uses beyond the gaming room, along with ease of use that rivals any office software application. After that, using an Oculus Rift or other XR device becomes an attractive part of the social landscape, whether for work or play.

“Our expectations and our needs in terms of computing right now are that it’s interconnected, interoperable, and that it’s collective: that we do it together,” Hoo said. “People expect this, but until recently, almost every XR experience you would have would be a solo experience. This transition from solo to social will be very dramatic.”

To underscore this last point, Hoo looks at the recent past.

“Personal computers existed for 30 years before most people wanted them and now everyone has one in their pocket,” he said. “The turning point was around the 90’s … when the web and email came out. Suddenly, everyone wanted it, because not only could they do it, it was what we could do together and that’s the part. transformer. “

Social platforms for VR headsets are already here, he said, pointing to VRChat, in which users interact with others as 3D character models, reminiscent of Second Life, the online virtual world that was popular in the early years of this year. century.

“Spatial is another one that we’re really going to do live on the Data Center World stage,” he said.

Data Center World will take place live, in Orlando and digitally, anywhere, from August 16-19. Learn more and sign up here.

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