Andreessen’s take on AR vs. VR reveals a kind of chauvinism. He says your environment is inherently uninteresting if you’re unlucky enough to live anywhere other than Silicon Valley, a college campus, or a major city. And virtual reality, he says, is the cure.
On the other hand, he’s right about the importance of audio. A voice in your ear that you can interact with every waking moment. That’s a kind of augmented reality already.
Businesses are starting to realize nobody’s interested in VR. Seems like we have to go through this every 10-15 years with whatever technology is hot at the time, starting with text-based MUDs and MUSHes and MOOs in the 80s. (Joshua Topolsky/The Outline)
LAS VEGAS — Cisco Live — In the middle of a virtual reality demo of the Internet of Things for transportation, my smartwatch buzzed my wrist with a notification from the real world. Later, I got into a spirited disagreement with a woman from a company called Gupshup about how much personality chatbots should have.
“We’re living the future!” I thought, and used my pocket computer, connected to a global wireless network, to instantly shared the insight with thousands of friends all over the world.
We’re almost never amazed anymore by technology miracles like IoT, chatbots and wireless networks. We take them for granted. And yet, as Yvette Kanouff, SVP/GM service provider business for Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), observed at a Thursday session here, it’s up to service providers to deliver the bandwidth to make it all go. “It’s wonderful for the world to talk about how everything, everywhere is going to be connected, but the pressure is on us to provide the bandwidth and make it work,” she said.
Cisco Live is the company’s annual conference for its enterprise customers. Light Reading was there with its trusty camera. Here’s some of what we saw.
For me at least, that’s not the most important question. The better question: Why are you in virtual reality (or using Facebook)? If you’re using it because your real life is crap and the virtual world is the only place where you can be happy, then you have a problem.
The novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline has become the template for the present generation of VR developers, the way William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash were for past generations. The characters in Ready Player One spend all their time in VR because real life is a dystopia; there’s nothing for them there. Wagner James Au, who wrote the Rosedale blog post I linked to here, makes these points elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in the real world now, most people have diminishing prospects. But we have plenty of gadgets!
I say fix the real world and then deal with the philosophical problems of virtual reality another day.
To an outsider, Second Life may look like a crappier version of World of Warcraft. It’s a vast digital space many people can log into with their virtual avatars, only instead of going on wild adventures, slaying dragons and collecting epic swords, it just seems like a bunch of people hanging out in bars, offices, galleries—normal places. That’s a fair assessment of Second Life, but what makes it special and lasting isn’t as apparent.
Yes, Second Life, which first launched in 2003, looks incredibly dated. Thirteen years is an eon in the technology business. There are massively multiplayer games that look prettier, bigger social networks that are better integrated to our daily routines, and video games that are far more fun to play. So why is it still hanging around?
The short answer is that there’s nothing else quite like it. Second Life was never just one of these things. It was a unique combination of all of the above—plus some weird sex stuff—that no other company has managed to displace. Even Second Life’s developer Linden Lab is hesitant to compete with it.
Second Life is still a thing because despite its age and the easy jokes, it owns an entire market it invented itself.
That last point is key. Back nine years ago when we though “virtual worlds” might be bigger than the World Wide Web, we thought there would be many varieties of virtual world, with Second Life just one of them.
That was wrong. There is no such thing as “virtual worlds.” There is only Second Life. It is unique. It’s similar to a social network, multiplayer online game, virtual reality, augmented reality, user-generated content site like YouTube, online marketplace, and sex fetish site. But it is not any of those things. Nothing else is like Second Life, and Second Life is like nothing else.
Inspired by the 1965 book Decoration USA, by Jose Wilson and Arthur Leaman, and the bestselling books of Betty Pepis, this is pop design, no high modernist masterpiece. It’s about pretending you’re happy, rather than about civilisation. In a small indicator of depravity, the living room is over twice the size of the dining room. Who cares about table manners when your wife is half your age?
Perhaps the most retro design decision, one that would never be made today, is screening off the kitchen from the living and dining spaces. Thanks to the popularity of the island, today’s kitchens are about public performance. This kitchen, which neither Don nor Megan spend much time in, was designed for efficiency. The most social thing about it is the bar which Draper, in his spiral into alcoholism, utilizes often.
It’s a big room fitted with sensors. The user wears a head-mounted display which projects a virtual reality image. Sensors in the room tracks the user’s location in 3D space, while showing the user a realtime image of a virtual-reality landscape that the user can move through.
The simulation uses a kind of trompe-l’œil trick to make the space seem larger than the room itself. (You might say the holodeck is bigger on the inside, if you want to mix your Star Trek with Doctor Who.) The simulation might show a street with a very slight curve in it, imperceptible to the user, who thinks he’s walking in a very long straight line.
To help you get where you’re going in-game, a number of omnidirectional treadmills have popped up over the last year or two. The latest addition to their ranks is something called Infinadeck, and it could very well be the best of the bunch.
What sets Infinadeck apart from treadmills like Virtuix Omni is that it doesn’t come with any special shoes or other gear. You simply hop on and start touring around in whatever VR world you’d like. As well as being more convenient, this means that any of your friends who want to test out your rig can play too. The Infinadeck also has a larger surface than its competition, allowing you to take longer, more natural strides.
With a surface that moves beneath your feet (as opposed to a slick surface that eliminates friction), the Infinadeck can actually alter your perception of the ground you’re walking along. Climbing virtual hills will feel harder than strolling down a lane. Walking down a steep slope will have you worrying about your footing.
No information on pricing to back up the claim it’s “affordable.”