Today, I saw something that really made me stop and think. Demonstrating how an individual embodied in VR can be viewed as an avatar in AR, the beta ARKit and HTC Vive broke my brain a little bit. This simple video shows us how both virtual reality and augmented reality can connect people in incredibly unique ways. Imagine yourself ten years in the future: you're wearing your sleek AR/VR combo glasses, hanging out in your room, thinking about how much cooler you are than the people of ten years ago. A call pops up on your display- it's your friend asking to come over and watch a movie. You accept the call, and a squishy, Totoro-esque creature appears next to you. They look over to you, and see you as a smiling lollipop who burps sunshine and rainbows. Just like that, two people are inhabiting a shared real space with virtual bodies.
Think about that. Go ahead, I'll wait. Pretty cool right? Instantaneous, virtual travel. What's more, as body-tracking technology continues to get more refined, our ability to believe the experience is only heightened. There's been some fascinating research on presence in VR, examining what helps and hinders our ability to believe that the virtual world is a real one. One component of this presence has to do with how believable graphics of the world are. As a culture that is still new to VR/AR, looking at a cartoon lollipop person is probably not going jive with our brains. But take a step back an look at how communication has changed over the last 10-15 years. We've already trained ourselves to think of our friends in the context of Bitmojis and GIFs. There's even (unfortunately) a movie coming out about anthropomorphized emojis and the life they live inside our phones. The more our brains are exposed to virtual representations of real-world objects and people, the easier we will accept these photon-belching pixels as our best friends. Add that to what will eventually be seamless AR/VR (looking at you VR contact lenses), and in no time at all we'll be living in an Inception-meets-Matrix virtual paradise.
Finally, we can all watch Sens8 together without things getting awkward.