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The VR Fad

#1
Like the thread title says, I consider this latest round of Virtual Reality stuff just another brief outburst of the same "product in search of a market" fad of the '90s.

I suspect several billion more dollars will be lost down the latest iteration of this rathole before we all move on to the Next Cool Thing That Delivers No Lasting Utility.

In the meantime, Michael Abrash thinks the future of VR -- no, really, we've got it right this time, honest -- is "virtual humans."

Even I found Abrash's article mildly interesting reading -- though probably not for the same reason as a fan of VR. ;)

(Note: It's hard to hear "tone of voice," so let me add that I'm not mocking anyone here who does believe there's something about this latest investment in and promotion of VR that will make it as ubiquitous a household device as the TV or microwave oven. It's your money. All I'm saying is that I see no hard evidence that the result must be different this time. But I could be wrong. So I'm not offended if you think VR has real value. I hope you likewise won't be offended that I have a different opinion about that.)
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Re: The VR Fad

#2
I don't think the current iteration of VR is going to be a lasting thing. Rather, I think that we're going to have to advance our technology further before we get to something that can be as commonly used as PCs and consoles. In the meantime, VR development is helping us research a lot of new technology, which is nice... but I don't think VR is going to be ubiquitous until it gets to the point that we can simply plug ourselves in to the computer. :D At that point it would probably become the new standard... but I think it's a long way off.

I like the article, though, mostly because I love optical illusions and the whole focus problem is something I've often thought about.
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Re: The VR Fad

#3
My own thoughts are that VR will have a sizable market when it improves, but certainly not as ubiquitous as TVs or Microwaves, but more a market size similar to where Desktop PCs will stabilize in the tablet and Smartphone Era. I think people looking to have a fully immersive experience are out there, but I don't think most are willing to spend more than 700 for a complete system (headset and peripherals + capable computer). I think that if/when you see good quality headsets in the $200-300 range, it won't be a product looking for a market. But I also don't see that happening until about 2020 or later.

As for virtual humans... eh... probably someday, but i don't expect anything too soon.

VR might really benefit if it can start to combine eye tracking and interface with those brain-computer interface gadgets people put on their head, allowing you to control things in VR with your thoughts alone as the system processes where you're looking, even if at a coarse level would be pretty cool. And that certainly something the 90's never had.
VR can't be looked at in a vacuum, but as a new sort of interface which will have its place, even if that place isn't everywhere. There's substantial interest in its applications for the military and drone control, in medicine for remote and practice surgery, in journalism, of course in gaming... i think there are enough potential uses that it isn't JUST a fad, it's just overhyped for its current capabilities
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Re: The VR Fad

#4
Very fair responses -- thanks:

To clarify a little, I was pretty careful to describe my skepticism with respect to VR as a consumer item. I don't think there's any real dispute over VR having some utility in certain cases... but that's a different argument than the one I made.

As to whether there's anything about VR that will allow it to become a lasting component in the lives of a majority of consumers (which is what it will have to do to repay its investors), I note that most defenses continue to be some version of "it doesn't exist yet, and I don't know what it will be, but I'm sure it will happen." That's not a terribly strong inducement for me. :) Again, I'm not saying "can't happen" -- I'm just making the case that skeptics don't have to feel bad about their current position.

Personally, I suspect that if virtualization does go consumer-grade, it won't be VR -- putting the self into a virtual world -- but rather AR: putting virtual things into the real world.

We've recently seen a hint of that future with Pokémon: Go. Amp up three things, and I think this takes off and leaves VR in the dust:

  • Star Trek: Voyager-like "mobile emitters" for projecting holograms into the world
  • more, better, and standardized ways to interact with AR projections
  • a diversity of gaming and non-gaming applications

If I had millions to invest, that's where I'd put my money, because I can see this expression of AR having concrete, practical applications for the majority of people, who are wired to value the concrete and practical.

We'll see. :D
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Re: The VR Fad

#5
Flatfingers wrote:
Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:23 am
Like the thread title says, I consider this latest round of Virtual Reality stuff just another brief outburst of the same "product in search of a market" fad of the '90s.
Completely agree.

I was around in the 90's, working as the Asst. Mgr. for a software store. I saw when some of the first headsets came out and were demo'd on store floors for people to 'ooh' and 'aah' over. It was a fad then, and I firmly believe it is a fad now. It takes special development, which requires more money. And it requires that the user spend enough money to afford two new HD monitors (one for each eye). The price hasn't dropped substantially from when the stuff first came out in the 90's, and until it does it will never be mainstream.

I'm going to guess more around 2025 for the tech+price to be affordable by mainstream users, perhaps 2030. And even then developers/publishers may shy away from the idea, knowing it costs more to develop for it, and that there are a plethora of competing and non-standard technologies all vying for top spot.

It's still got a looooong way to go.
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Re: The VR Fad

#7
The problem with new entertainment tech: its going to be overused. (like bloom shaders back in the day or "boob physics")

My problem with VR headsets: the general mindset seems to be: because it CAN do 3D, it SHOULD do 3D...

The VR headsets are first of all projectors with a larger field of view, that can create a picture for each eye seperately.
But the problem with 3D is, and will be for the time coming: motion sickness. Its the barrier for enjoyment for more people that I think is anticipated.
And that will not go away until everything is completely simulating the real world optics (including depth of optical focus), and tracking the headposition in very high fidelity.

What I would suggest: use the VR tech first to project a 2D scene on a large canvas (not 3D). Projecting it bigger than any home hardware projector can do.
Simulate the scene like sitting in a cinema. So moving the head will not change the position of the camera in the scene, but just the virtual projection of the large (2D) canvas.
The virtual distance of the canvas should be somewhere between home-TV and a cinema screen. (further away is probably better).
The camera in the game/sim world is still classically moved using a controller, and not by the headmovement.

That should get rid of the basic problem of motion sickness due to the still low fidelity optics and motion sensors.
It could reach a larger market, than just the early tech-adopters (and people trying it in the electronics store). And it could use already established means of presenting game and video worlds.
(eg: 2D projected games using a controller). Most existing games using a 3D API could be transferred to this projection method, witout having to alter its presentation mechanics.

-> the user just feels like having a really huge screen at home. That by itself is already fun.
Last edited by Damocles on Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The VR Fad

#9
On seeing the headline for the linked story, my first thought was, "Oh, crud, EA's CEO agrees with me that AR looks more useful now than VR."

"Not a lot of new news on VR for us, and as you see there’s not a lot of new news on VR in the industry. People seem to have come to terms with the fact that VR ... is going to take a couple of years, at least, to kind of get to a point where it is truly a mass-market consumer opportunity" ... "AR, I think, is more interesting."

:x

But then I read the article. Now I don't feel as bad, because I think he's got AR exactly backwards: he's not talking about "augmenting reality" with virtual information; he's talking about taking real-world information and pulling it into one of their controlled game worlds:
"The notion of a data overlay into your mobile, console, PC games, something that takes things that are important and interesting about you, whether that’s geo data or gameplay data or friends data, that you are able to allow the game to utilize, to enhance and extend your experience, I think we’re to see more of that sooner," added Wilson.

"Certainly our creative teams are thinking about what kind of data would a player want to use from their real world to augment their virtual world? And you should expect to see more of that from us also in the coming months and years."
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Re: The VR Fad

#10
Well it's good to see EA is still pretending to have ideas not related to screwing over players.
Image The traditional view of robotics, the metal servant who doesn't ask questions, is merely nostalgia for slavery.
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Re: The VR Fad

#11
Damocles wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 10:34 am
What I would suggest: use the VR tech first to project a 2D scene on a large canvas (not 3D). Projecting it bigger than any home hardware projector can do.
Simulate the scene like sitting in a cinema. So moving the head will not change the position of the camera in the scene, but just the virtual projection of the large (2D) canvas.
The virtual distance of the canvas should be somewhere between home-TV and a cinema screen. (further away is probably better).
The camera in the game/sim world is still classically moved using a controller, and not by the headmovement.

That should get rid of the basic problem of motion sickness due to the still low fidelity optics and motion sensors.
It could reach a larger market, than just the early tech-adopters (and people trying it in the electronics store). And it could use already established means of presenting game and video worlds.
(eg: 2D projected games using a controller). Most existing games using a 3D API could be transferred to this projection method, witout having to alter its presentation mechanics.

-> the user just feels like having a really huge screen at home. That by itself is already fun.
except that
"use headtracking to rotate camera in virtual space" and
"use headtracking to rotate camera in virtual space" are
identical and suffer from the same problems.
if the rotation doesnt agree with your physical head motion it causes motion sickness.
if the screen is all thats there in your VR environment and it wobbles around despite your head being still you still will get sick.
(also ignoring that a 2D image projected onto a 2D canvas has no concept of "distance" anyway except scaling. which makes a close small and a far big screen equivalent)

low resolution displays also dont cause the problems, at least none that a higher resolution conventional display can fix.
we need light field displays or other forms that enable focus effects for the human eye. that one can focus/defocus objects based on their simulated distance.
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Re: The VR Fad

#12
N810 wrote:
Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:36 am
This just in... Super high res and eye tracking.
> https://futurism.com/a-new-vr-headset-t ... -has-been/ < :problem:
^
"we need light field displays or other forms that enable focus effects for the human eye. that one can focus/defocus objects based on their simulated distance."
Last edited by N810 on Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"A sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
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Re: The VR Fad

#13
N810 wrote:
Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:04 pm
N810 wrote:
Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:36 am
This just in... Super high res and eye tracking.
https://futurism.com/a-new-vr-headset-t ... -has-been/
^
"we need light field displays or other forms that enable focus effects for the human eye. that one can focus/defocus objects based on their simulated distance."
not ignoring your stuff :D

(i could onyl find marketing bla bla from them for now, so im going to stay sceptical :P )
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Re: The VR Fad

#15
i just read a few articles and it seems to be adaptive detail augmentation based on eye tracking.
Aka they improve the effective resolution where the user looks.

Nothing that would solve the focus problem unless they manage to discern reliable focus cues from eye tracking data (which is unlikely to my knowledge).
Also nothing theres not a hundred and five papers about already.

Meh, saw more interesting tech based on digital light modulators that would reconstruct a fair part of the light field and would allow focusing without further tracking

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