Again with the future

What is going to happen in the next 5 years? Where is technology is going to be in the next 10 years. I consider myself lucky to have lived in the time of mobile revolution. But really this was inevitable, kinda like every thing that ever took over the world. We see it as a natural path to go through. After we created the first transistor of course we knew we were going to instantly send cat videos to someone in the other corner of the world.

Not really, but if you are as enthusiastic as I am about technology you probably spent some time on YouTube watching stuff on quantum physics, carbon fibers, nanotechnology, self-driving cars and what not. Everyone of these documentaries promises the same thing.

In the next 3 to 5 years we will have the technology to turn this from prototype (theory) to consumer level product.

Some of those videos are dated 2007. It is easy to delegate the job to some virtual scientist in the future that will somehow manage to bring these things to life with never before seen technological breakthrough.

Every cool future technology I ever saw is only 5 years away. When it's a little more complex it's 10 years away.

With these thoughts we quickly fall into VR, which apparently is the future too. Before we get to Oculus, let's start with its cousin Google Glass which according its maker is labeled AR, Augmented Reality device.

Google Glass

Google glass by itself is impressive. I only had the pleasure to experiment it in a booth for a short period of time. But even if you haven't used it, you were probably impressed with the their skydiving PR stunt. I read many reviews on the web, but the few that were negative were mostly about aesthetics. (That was before Google dropped Google Glass)

A recurring theme however was the price, battery life, number of app support, and camera quality.

Why I mention these is because we have devices that do just fine in all these categories.

And I can get a phone that does much more. I won't dismiss Google Glass entirely because we are not here to decide what the future is. Maybe this device will have to redefine itself to get sales, at least if it was to target the mobile market.

What still gets me excited about Google glass is that after all it is a computer. And someone will find a cool way to use it eventually. What I don't care about is if it adds wireless charging, or finer voice recognition. That's like putting a hat on a snowman.

Oculus Rift

So the Oculus Rift. As of today, I have only read reviews and saw people wearing it. I will be talking about it from this perspective. It's not a reason to dismiss me either because I am not here to tell you whether or not you should buy it. Either way, we both know the first chance you get you will buy it anyway.

Here Virtual Reality, instead of Augmented reality, promises a different experience. You will get to be inside the game. A purer form of First Person Shooter. Well shooter because we are going into video games here. Why I insist on that? Because John Carmack is a game developer.

We love John Carmack.

Even the movie Disclosure from 1994 is all about VR and it's not even the first. But now all of the sudden we are all talking about VR. So to speak, VR was the future sometimes before I was born. Then we all forgot about it. But this time it is going to be different, we said that before but this time it's different. So the rise and fall and rise and X of VR could have been a good title here.

I looked for reviews of the Oculus. Not a single bad review. The one that I thought was a bad review was actually about the Galaxy Gear VR. Aestetics again! One thing we all agree on is that the gaming community will accept whatever Mr. Carmack will say. For example:

The Oculus Rift first launched on kickstarted. It not only reached its $250,000 goal but it also received an extra $2,187,429 to spare. We were all very excited about it. 2 years later, Facebook acquired the company for $2 billion. Of course it was a ripoff, that's how we felt. Lot's of people said they wouldn't have contributed if they knew it was going to end up in facebook's hands.

But then, John Carmack says, "Hey everyone, facebook is not so bad". And everyone kept quiet.

If the creator of Doom supports a technology, then we should all follow. But I am not convinced. So far, I think the Oculus is a nice booth demo experience. Everyone who uses it will be impressed. But I don't know if they will reach for the wallets. Company credit card maybe, but not wallet.

In 2010, I went to SIGGRAPH and that was my exact experience with VR/AR. I remember wearing a helmet and in a booth and seeing little Dinosaurs walking all around the place. In another mode I would use a controller and run in a very colorful room almost bumping my head in a virtual pipe. It looked more like the Money for nothing music video.

Like with Google Glass, I won't dismiss the Oculus Rift. I may not see everyone and their grandma wearing it, but I'm sure it will find its niche. Sales are a poor metric to determine the advancement of tech.

Google glass does a good job eliminating the screens, but the augmenting it does is trivial. At least for now. It's not like before Google glass we had trouble knowing how long the Golden Gate bridge was.

Today we have denser pixel ratio, I think we reached the limit where my eyes can tell the difference. Faster processors and GPU, I will admit it I can't tell if this video is CG or real on PS4.

The overall experience of technology is positive but I am hoping that we move to a new trend. The current trend is to keep selling what sells more right now without thinking much about innovation. Things like VR, AR, self driven cars, a new take on user interface, are things to work on and improve. When they are developed they won't be selling like hot cakes or iPhones, but they are still worth the time.

What is the future? What device is the future? What trend is future. We can only confirm it when we look back, and hopefully I would have a quote on twitter confirming that I knew it all along.

There is no point predicting the future. Just like the stock market it is legitimized gambling.

There is no future, there is only what we make today. Let's make great things.


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