Augmented & Virtual Reality (AR/VR)

Augmented & Virtual Reality (AR/VR)
Has anyone implemented AR/VR for training purposes? If not, have you thought about how you could use AR/VR?

Top Answer: Coming from higher education, this is now on my radar. We're looking at VR technology to integrate into our HyFlex learning classrooms, which would allow learners from across the globe to experience a virtual setting in a different more realistic way. We're also exploring AR for certain streams of learning, for example the medical field or where engines etc. need to be taken apart. It's early days right now, but there's so much potential out there.

What misconceptions do people have about the metaverse?

Top Answer: There's a big miscalculation going on with the metaverse. Facebook is where this idea started to get broad traction and in its early days, there were two defining moments for the company. One was when Google released Google Plus, because everybody thought that Facebook would die as a result. But all Google Plus did was solidify the fact that Facebook is a monopoly that can continue to exist without any serious intervention. The second moment was mobile. Back in 2011, Facebook was largely a website with a mobile app that wasn’t great. When the iPhone and the Android devices came out a couple years later, the massive adoption of that technology scared the company because it had the potential to lose its position if it didn't keep up. So Facebook made a pivot to be mobile first. When I look at mobile and why mobile technology had such an impact on the world, it's because it had widespread adoption, just like the internet did. The internet is part of our lives. Even disadvantaged people in many countries have access to the internet and mobile has done the same thing. Part of it was affordability, but the other part was utility: It was both easy to use, and understandable. And that is where the miscalculation is regarding the metaverse. I'm not convinced that the metaverse has the widespread appeal that mobile did. I don't know that enough of the global population wants to jack themselves into a virtual universe in this way. There's just a part of the world that wants to do it.

What do you think about the metaverse in general?

Top Answer: The metaverse is a giant hype fest, at least as it's defined by Mark Zuckerberg. I am not a fan of the idea that we're going to strap goggles onto our head and live in an immersive experience like that. I do believe that there will continue to be more fusion between technology and the real world, but in the Facebook/Meta definition of the metaverse, there is a serious flaw in the assumption that technology will evolve quickly enough for the user interface or the display technology to catch up to what is necessary for the vision to be realized. At some point in the future, we'll probably have holodecks and other things that we've seen in movies like Star Wars. But I don't know that we're going to see a holodeck in our lifetime and the substitutes we’ll get in the meantime won’t be that impactful.

What will drive the metaverse’s evolution?

Top Answer: I don’t think the metaverse will be driven by social networking; it's going to be driven by product manufacturing. If you look at what established corporations are doing, those that make consumer products like Walmart are trying to bring products into their version of the metaverse. That would drive me crazy at this point, because I don't need a little popup person telling me, "Your fridge just sent me a message that you need X, Y and Z, and you should put this jug of milk back." That's not what it's about. We're going to see the resurgence of things like computer aided design (CAD), which are way better than gaming engines in 3D. Those things have the background and capability to facilitate the design and creation of metaverse objects in 3D and 4D without requiring lots of programming. You'll see citizen development in that area very rapidly; it’s already happening now. If you think about companies like Dusseau, Autodesk, Unity, etc., the traditional digital twin makers — CAD, CAE and CAM — have the same engines you find in gaming, but they're more proficient at integration. The metaverse will start opening up a big capability not on the social side, but on the enterprise side: how quickly and easily can I integrate the metaverse with my back office systems? The companies that have traditionally gone through channels and now want to go direct-to-consumer are looking at how to make that model work now. They're the ones that are going to drive this because they already have the PLM systems, MRPs and ERPs. Those are the tools that businesses would use to do cost efficiency, time savings or monetization of the metaverse where that front end can be as portable as content is today in social networks, which never used to be the case. We all used to have static capability in websites. Now everything is dynamic.

What did you think about Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard?

Top Answer: Digital experiences will continue to evolve and gaming is leading the way. That's what makes the Microsoft acquisition interesting, because it puts them at the forefront of gaming. They were already kind of there with the Xbox, so that's where I would look to see how metaverse technology is going to evolve.

What are your thoughts about the Oculus?

Top Answer: Today’s Oculus is comparable to the bulky gadgets we had in big workstations 20 years ago. Back then you might have had a 90MHz Pentium CPU — what is it today? When you compare the current Oculus to what Google Glass was 10 or 15 years back, it may end up being minimized into a similar type of device. Evolution may happen but you don't know it will. It may just fizzle out in a few years.

What will the metaverse actually look like?

Top Answer: I'd focus on how video conferencing will evolve. Zoom has highlighted that many people have a finite capacity for spending time with technology. Once Zoom took over our lives and we had to do virtual meetings all day long, Zoom fatigue started to seep in for many of us. I couldn't do it for more than five or six hours a day before I'd turn into a pile of goo. At some point, you need real-world experiences. As a board member, there's no substitute for going to in-person board meetings, meeting the management team and walking through the hallways of the company to see what's going on. Even though a board meeting by every other definition is most efficient when delivered over Zoom, if it's going to have meaning and impact for me, I need to travel to the place. So I'd still look at gaming but for business, I'd look towards video conferencing evolving into more immersive experiences as the definition of the metaverse. The Mark Zuckerberg vision of the metaverse is fanciful and may be realized in a hundred years, but certainly not in the next 10.

Will we see mass consumer adoption of the metaverse?

Top Answer: My favorite thing in Oculus land is traveling via Google Earth — it’s cool, but I'm not going to spend my life there. My father's blind; he can't live in the metaverse. Then there are people who just aren't big on technology and don't want to spend their lives there for that reason. So I'm not convinced it's going to be as widespread of a technology as mobile is. And without that, I don't know that you can get the level of investment needed for things to go at the pace that they need to in order for the technology to be consumable and realize its vision in our lifetime. It's not that it technically couldn't happen. If we did a moon project to create the holodeck, we could probably do it in 10 years but I don't expect there will be any motivation to do a moon project around the metaverse.