At the very least, over the past decade, augmented reality (RA) and virtual reality (VR) have been promoted several times as emerging and hot technologies at the peak of reaching mainstream. They were supposed to be a part of our daily lives and a staple of our entertainment consumption. Except that they somehow never crossed that magical threshold to become “must-have” experiences.
But now, finally, the big advances in headphones / glasses in terms of both weight and design, in addition to the arrival of standard LIDAR on some high-end phones, could change the game. LIDAR is a method of determining the distance by aiming at an object with a laser and measuring the time for the reflected light to return to the receiver. Lidar can also be used to make 3D digital representations of objects. In addition, thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) replacing classic computer processing, impressive speeds are now driving the representation of virtual worlds and objects that exist, and all this is combined to make these technologies previously disassembled are considerably more desirable. .
Remember Google Glass? Probably not. (Google wants them forgotten too). It came and went without creating even a ripple. However, the promise of a relatively harmless pair of glasses that acts as an interface, unlike large VR headsets and immensely imperceptible and inexcusable, has been hovering over virtual technologies ever since.
Just before the summer, the news that Snap had created a new pair of RA glasses was somewhat marred by the fact that they don’t actually sell. Such a mockery. Its new AR glasses project virtual images to the world directly in front of the user, but at least for now they are only available to the developers of Snap’s Lenses, the software that generates these virtual images.
If it sounds crazy not to try to sell the glasses, it’s all about the content. Understandably, Snap doesn’t want his glasses to be the same as 3D TV, which died in part due to a lack of the kind of content that would make him want to sit there with glasses for hours. Snap’s intention, some would say desperate, is to find developers who can create attractive, visually stunning lenses that sell the technology to the public. That said, and strictly technically speaking, Snap has been ahead of the curve for a while thanks to its range of AR-driven filters on the platform we all use.
Cortney Harding, founder of Friends with Holograms, a producer of personalized virtual reality and award-winning AR experiences, believes we need to separate the two technologies.
“An important point here is that AR and VR are expanding differently. RA is much easier to consume because most of us have smartphones, while virtual reality is more relevant to business sector and games, ”says Harding.“ Along with Snap, both Facebook and Apple are developing RA glasses, but we won’t be wearing them any time soon, maybe in 18 months or two years in the case of Apple. And, despite the growing presence of these great actors, I expect the adoption curve to remain fairly slow. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and both technologies need people who know what they’re doing. If you’ve ever seen a poorly made VR video, you’ll know exactly what I mean. They can make you feel physically bad. “
Of course, we can not mention AR not to mention NFT, the blockchain-based phenomenon, driven by AR, which exploded earlier this year, advocated by artists such as 3Lau, Richie Hawtin, DeadMau5, Don Diablo and many others. While some reflect on the relevance of buying something that only exists virtually, Hawtin is clear about its appeal.
“Part of being a fan is that you want things exclusive to the acts you like and the NFTs provide exactly that. To compare it to something from the offline world, people joined fan club groups in order to access things that weren’t available to non-members, ”he said when he appeared on the series“ In Conversation ”of the Amsterdam Dance Event. vodcasts. “NFTs open up a wide range of possible interactions and relationships between artists and their fans.”
Ashley Crowder, co-founder and CEO of AR specialist VNTANA, also sees phones as the key to more widespread use of AR saying, “I’m a believer in Snap glasses, but I think 99% of users they will prefer to use their phones. The user base is 100 times larger.
Crowder’s company makes 3D e-commerce easy and fast to scale, which has proven to double conversion rates and increase cart size by 60%. Its patented optimization algorithms allow brands such as Hugo Boss, Deckers Brands and Diesel to use their existing 3D designs to instantly create high-fidelity, fast-loading 3D resources that are automatically optimized for use on the network, networks social, advertising, games. engines and more. Just as Vimeo and YouTube made video sharing and insertion easier, VNTANA makes it easier for fashion brands, footwear, furniture, tools, and more to share and embed 3D and RA for sales and marketing use.
“We’re also working with several gaming companies, including Fortnite owner Epic, because of course product placement should be within the games, just like many years ago in movies,” Crowder says. . “It’s happening, but it still needs to be more scalable and easier to add than it currently is. However, the fact that the iPhone 12 Pro and iPad Pro have LIDAR also means people will be able to scan in 3D. whatever you want and apply it to your avatars. And while the quality is inferior to an exploration done by a professional company, given the time we spend online, that will only grow. “
LIDAR and 3D scans also have huge implications for NFTs. Crowder states: “Currently, NFTs are only in 2D, so we are developing a system to create marketable 3D resources and it is not difficult to imagine how attractive and attractive a 3D file is compared to its 2D cousins.
“The idea of owning a 3D file is another level completely compared to what we are now. They could, for example, be used as skins in video games. “
These same 3D NFTs could also be used to dress up as a virtual party. Sam Distaso, vice president of business development for Sansar VR at Wookey Technologies, understandably has been very, very busy since the blockchain sparked a growing demand for something that looks like parties like before. The company has a deal with concert giant Live Nation that gave birth to a virtual version of the Splendor In The Grass festival. They also have an agreement with the Steam gaming platform and have hosted thousands of shows in the last 18 months.
“But that’s mostly out of groups using our platform and facilities,” Distaso says. “We organized about 100 events that we would call suitable shows or festivals with multiple events. In fact, demand exceeds our capacity right now. Therefore, as a short-term solution, we outsource 80% of the design needed to mount an event to small studios, but we are working towards a situation where we offer a self-service interface. That is, anyone who wants to organize an event will be able to choose an event template and continue with the design of the environment. Ultimately, we want to get out of the way and let people follow us. We aim for all this to be ready by the end of the year, but it may be a bit optimistic ”.
The irony here is that platforms like Minecraft or Roblox could do everything Sansar does, but the breadth and flexibility of Sansar’s offering, in addition to the fact that the platform has been created by music fans who likes to attend events, wins the day.
“The huge investments in game engines make them generate incredible graphics, but for events, you need a dedicated engine and great flexibility to be able to work with ticket sellers and third-party merchandising companies, in addition to the ability to organize artists. meet and greet; even round tables and round tables for business-oriented events. What has become evident through the pandemic is that real life events are limited by the geography and capacity of the place, but if you can avoid these limitations and also provide events that really work and have a high interaction factor, you get respect and repeat business, and that’s where Sansar is right now, ”adds Distaso.
The fact that many of Facebook’s recent acquisitions, including BigBox VR, Downpour Interactive, and Unit 2, maker of the collaborative gaming creation platform Crayta, are all in the gaming industry is highly significant. Mainly because they move in the belief that games are the biggest input vertical for virtual reality, but, as usual, acquisition and development are slower than expected.
“Affirming decisively‘ THIS IS THE YEAR ’is not relevant to these technologies,” says Harding. “Incrementalism is the way to go, until finally people feel that it has always been there. Looking at my own company, we doubled our revenue in 2019-2020. We have more work, we have more credibility and there are more people and companies interested in virtual technologies. Really good virtual reality headphones from companies like PICO and Oculus are now very reasonably priced at around $ 250 and that means creating the virtual reality content that it includes is becoming increasingly important.
“Really, although there is still a widespread and mistaken belief that headphones are annoying, it is not. I’ve put headphones on thousands of people for the first time and only a few really liked them. Honestly, we’ve now reached the stage where we impose any barriers to entry into the industry, so it’s really not the time to drop the ball. “