As Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) become more mainstream, questions turn to the future. The professionals at the “Augmented and Virtual Reality” panel on Friday at 1PM in Westin Augusta E-G discussed what is coming in this emerging field. Roger Altizer, Mike Capps, Maribeth Gandy, and Blair MacIntyre talked hardware, software, and creators.
Though the discussion was dominated with VR discussion, there were a couple of points the panel made about AR. The first lamented that there currently are not enough AR makers. The bulk of content, at this point, is made of physical pieces that games and apps overlay images on or around. The hope is that this content will start growing soon and will lose the need for 3D objects. The issue of locomotion was also brought up, with mentions of people playing Pokémon Go who walked into traffic and other dangerous situations. Discussion on this subject lead to talk about the overall legislation and regulation of both AR and VR games. The general consensus was our legislators find this technology to be scary. It was mentioned that the word “reality” gives AR and VR a false sense of what can be done while immersed. For example, there are those who question the implications of someone killing the virtual manifestation of a person in a game, and if it blurs the lines of legality and morality.
One audience member asked if the “screen-door effect” (image pixilation) is being addressed, which the panel said it is, and they expect it will be fixed in the next few years. Many questions about spatial tracking were asked. The panel was in agreement that a self-contained mobile version of VR is in the works. One of the bigger issues of mobility is space. For example, not many people have a large area in their homes to dedicate to gaming that VR would need. Another audience member asked about omnidirectional treadmills, but the panel felt that the price and, again, the dedicated space is a drawback to it becoming any more common. One of the panel members mentioned that coders and game designers are working on the issue of spatial tracking by adjusting how characters move within games.
According to the panelists, other fascinating aspects that designers are working on include eye-tracking, speech recognition, spatial tracking, and a way to view the “real world” around you while you’re in the game. They lamented that there are creator communities that are being ignored like the military, education, and medical fields. They also mentioned that the most popular use of VR at the moment is watching video. Lack of awareness of what the tech is can be problematic when it is used outside of one’s home. A story was recounted about an airplane passenger who was using his VR headset to watch a show in-flight, which frightened the flight attendants.
The issue of accessibility was brought up. The panel pointed out that regular video games have issues with accessibility which are exacerbated by how VR works. As this technology becomes a tool for training employees, and for K-12 education, this problem will only become worse, they felt. An audience question about customization of VR content took the subject to a somewhat frightening level. Personalized advertising is expected, however the panel felt that the immersion that we have seen in dystopian movies, custom billboards or advertisements jumping out at users, are not expected. However, they mentioned, if it can be done, marketing will do it. In closing, the panel reminded the audience that both Facebook and Amazon are already incorporating AR and VR into their marketing and tools.