VR wants to be AR

Augmented reality glasses app developer

Photo credit: Vuzix, Rochester, NY

What will Virtual Reality look like in 15 to 20 years?  The University of Rochester’s Center for Visual Science Symposium: Frontiers in Virtual Reality was held next door to Workinman Interactive at the beginning of June.  Facebook Virtual Reality Labs, NVIDIA, NASA, and professors from the world’s top visual science universities presented their visions of VR’s future.  While many presentations went deep into the science, a repeated theme was that VR’s eventual goal isn’t bulky head mounted displays (HMD), but everyday use of Augmented Reality with sleek and stylish glasses.  You will talk to people from around the world as though they were next to you. Live life as though it were a pop-up video with acquaintances’ names showing up before you have to mumble your way through an awkward hello, or even have facts relevant to your conversation appear in your field of vision. Your glasses will be your virtual assistant and your literal heads-up display.

If Google Glass came out in 2013, why isn’t this available now?  There are a host of issues to solve, but the big one is the Vergence-Accommodation conflict.  Vergence and accommodation are coupled in nature, but with stereo displays the vergence distance depends upon the virtual image’s distance and the accommodation remains constant to the screen distance.  In layman’s terms, your eyes are trying to “focus” on two different distances. The result is discomfort and fatigue. Industry and academia are working to solve this problem, but it isn’t an easy task especially in a stylish form factor.  Marina Zannoli of Oculus VR joked that instead of a HMD, Oculus can solve this issue with a table sized display onto which you can mount your head.

In order to get to the stylish AR glasses there are a bevy of issues with computing power, industrial design, AI, UX, battery life, and even heat.  You’re not going to wear AR glasses that will burn your face or give you neck pain. Facebook and the other tech titans are all working on this exciting future. In the interim,  there are a lot of fun games, toys and learning experiences that Workinman is working on right now.

What does this mean for gaming? AR technology has reached a point of maturity where mass-market appeal is right around the corner. With mass-market, comes entertainment apps, and a potential billion-dollar industry for AR games. 

Located in upstate New York, Workinman Interactive is a multi-platform video game connected product design and development studio (specializing in youth markets and toys). Services include: Unity and HTML5 programming, art and animation, localization, gamification, interactive exhibits, augmented and virtual reality development, and QA-testing. For more information, contact us.

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