Not signed in (Sign In)
  1.  (6244.1)
    Io9 did a hunk on up and coming AR tech, though suprisingly made no mention of "Spook Country"

    And "Virtuality", the follow-up to "Battlestar Galactica" by Ron Moore just aired

    So I'm thinking out loud about the future of VR and AR a bit.

    AR seems much more likely as a near future tech boom. Smartphones are getting cameras that actually function for more than just fuzzy snapshots and data networks are (fucking slowly) edging towards universal broadband. There's even an Augmented Reality Slot Machine rolling out for the BMX tour this summer. Couple a camera, AR tech and a sheet of electronic paper, you have a map/travel guide/gamestation all in one. Or how about keying that display into medical data being fed off a patient. An overlay a patient can wear?

    The next leap is to eyeglasses of course. Or some kind of wearable tech. Then we're looking at something that Spider Jerusalem's great-grandfather might have worn.

    VR seems more distant. Even the best graphics are expensive and time consuming. What makes me curious is the idea of tapping into brain to let the conscious mind create it's own virtual world. Conscious dreaming. Instead of building painstaking simulation, let the brain dream it's own creations. Just the other day the first image of a long-term memory being formed was taken. How far off from being able to simulate those memories?

    Thoughts? Moral questions? Hateful screeds against the machines taking over and making us all dress in leather fetish and pray to Larry Fishburner Jesus?
    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2009
     (6244.2)
    •  
      CommentAuthorFinagle
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2009
     (6244.3)
    The place I really want AR tech is in my phone and my car, and it really doesn't have to be much more complicated than existing GPS technology.

    I get into my car, and my glasses "pair" with the car environment and throw up a subtle heads-up overlay based on video game and fighter pilot technology (or maybe the windscreen just does it). As I'm driving down the highway, prompts at the edge of my attention light up to highlight the best route to my goal. Should I run low on gas, the "health" indicator pulses and the GPS automatically recaulculates to the nearest gas station and shows a new map overlay, prompting me to choose between them. My incoming calls, messages and calendar and so on are shown in a queue that I can have read to me with a voice command or perhaps an actual thought.

    We have all this in bits and pieces, but it has yet to be harmoniously integrated into the car experience itself as the new normal. Probably not until Apple buys Volkswagen and comes out with a sealed-hood iCar.
  2.  (6244.4)
    Io9 did a hunk on up and coming AR tech, though suprisingly made no mention of "Spook Country"

    Hard to get people excited about new tech by discussing a book that would bore them to death.

    Yelp.com and such being overlaid on Google maps in iPhone software makes sense but is sort of obvious and not an especially impressive leap. As for the more advanced wearable stuff, I’ll believe it when I see it. Right now I think it’s just as much hype and fantasy as virtual reality was in the 1990s. I can see why nerds like the idea of walking around Terminator style with a grid of data being overlaid across everything and constantly updating in real-time. But I think that most people would find it incredibly irritating and it will lead to a lot of dorks getting run over when they wander into traffic that they aren’t paying attention to. I’m sure that I’ll be cheering for the first person who beats up some asshole who was doing some fucking annoying thing with his AR glasses just as I do every time someone snaps and beats up people who won’t put their goddamned toys away in movie theaters.

    VR seems more distant. Even the best graphics are expensive and time consuming.

    The quality of the graphics is irrelevant in VR because the brain will just accept, adapt to, and alter whatever stimuli it is getting, and if the art direction is good people won’t even notice. Two of the best selling video games companies, Blizzard and Nintendo, stopped chasing graphics from a technical standpoint years ago when they realized that all you really need to suck people in is great art direction. What we still need for VR is a way to pump the images directly into the optic nerves without the dangers of implants which are probably going to be unacceptable from a medical ethics standpoint in a world full of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    But I’m still not sure how much of a market VR will ever have. World of Warcraft is the closest thing we’ve got, and while it’s very popular for a video game, I think that the rest of the world has a very dim view of WoW addicts and wants nothing to do with it. And even the people who are obsessed don’t really treat it like a VR experience; they play multiple characters simultaneously while surfing the web, watching movies, reading books, and even playing other games. In the world of movies digital 3D seems to be piling on detractors who find the extra level immersion annoying as quickly as the movie theaters expand the business. I’m really just not sure that people want all these extra levels of experience in their entertainment. I’m constantly reminded about Wired’s Alan Moore interview that came out just before Watchmen hit. The one where he explains how he doesn’t like all the new special effects because they suck the imagination out of everything. I think that’s the fundamental flaw in all of this advanced entertainment—once my mind isn’t filling in gaps left by limitations of the media, or once I spot the myriad limits of any simulation, the whole thing gets boring and feels masturbatory. So maybe if someone can produce VR that works really well in very short segments it will be as fun as masturbation, but otherwise I doubt I’ll ever give a shit.
    • CommentAuthorVerissimus
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2009
     (6244.5)
    VR seems more distant. Even the best graphics are expensive and time consuming. What makes me curious is the idea of tapping into brain to let the conscious mind create it's own virtual world. Conscious dreaming. Instead of building painstaking simulation, let the brain dream it's own creations. Just the other day the first image of a long-term memory being formed was taken. How far off from being able to simulate those memories?


    @orwellseyes

    How would that be any different from simply using the imagination? Daydreaming?

    There's all these abilities that we already have, in our brains, but which we hardly use anymore... Simply glueing some metal doodads, pipes and wires on our heads doesn't make our lives any more valuable.
    •  
      CommentAuthorMagnulus
    • CommentTimeJun 28th 2009
     (6244.6)
    I'm not really sure how you can say WoW is the closest we have to VR. The graphics are not realistic and the style of gameplay does not give in any way an approximation of a realistic experience. It's a cartoony third-person RPG. A thumpin' good one too, I'd say, but it's not VR material. I would say that games like Killzone, or rather, like Mirror's Edge are much much closer to being VR games. Mirror's Edge simulates the disorientation of jumping on walls and hanging off ledges and is miles closer to VR than WoW will ever be.

    With that out of the way, I don't think VR is a viable future for gaming either. Nowadays, we consume games in a much more casual manner than they foresaw back in the early days of VR, and unless they can create a VR experience that has no technical limitations (or that manages to shift its engine around you so that when you're about to hit a limitation, it somehow makes sure you don't hit it.) that's not likely to change any time soon. I think there's a future for 3D gaming with the spec-less 3D TVs that are on their way out, but that's still confined within a black box in your living room and not enveloping the user in a "fully immersive experience".

    As far as AR goes, I think it's actually an interesting prospect. If I remember correctly, there was a trial made with car mechanics who would use AR glasses to get real-time information about the engine of the car in the glass as they were working, which is very useful now that car engines are becoming more and more complicated and advanced. I don't see it as a nerd-fetish about going around Terminator-style, and it certainly is an inoffensive way to use your technological toys, so I don't see the point of being aggressive about it. I doubt AR will be in use for everyday walking around the place either, for the reasons stated by James, but I do believe that it can definitely find its uses, and I think that - while strictly speaking not AR, I suppose - the Sixth Sense project is pretty interesting.
  3.  (6244.7)
    How would that be any different from simply using the imagination? Daydreaming?

    Next time you're in a bookstore, or feel like plunging into Amazon's depths, take a look at some of the LIBRARIES of books on "controlling your dreams" and "dream power".

    They're all New Age bullshit of course.

    What I'm talking about is being able to use our meat like a machine. With predictable results. Say you want to dream about flying. A VR simulation has to be created, drawn, mapped, programmed. But what if you could program your brain to imagine flight? Or sex? Or wandering palaces? Every pixel of a simulation has to be created by someone else, what I'm talking about is the endless wanderings of your own mind.

    Now add to that external inputs. Video, sounds, images even tactile and scent data, to give your brain the raw material to process and create more and more "real" simulations.

    Again, the machine would be more of a regulator. Waking you up, monitoring your vitals, even down cycling so you actually get some periods of true restful sleep and not just 8 hours REM.