David Ewalt: "Defying Reality: The Inside Story of the Virtual Reality Revolution" | Talks at Google

David Ewalt:

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Please. Help me welcome David, you Walt. Well. Everybody, I am, David II Walt I'm a tech, journalist, and author of a couple books it's, good to be back here at Google again I was here a couple years ago for my first book which was about Dungeons, & Dragons and, now. I'm writing about virtual reality so. I am a giant nerd I'm one, of you. I'm. So I'm excited to be back here but frankly, I'm a little, worried, because I've, just written a book that's a history of virtual, reality and talking about like where this new generation, of products came from and. Here. I am at Google so I kind of feel like lecturing, Googlers, about, VR, would be like going, to like the cordon bleu and lecturing them about how to make an omelet I'm, not super comfortable about that so there's a couple of different things I want to talk about when. I give talks at you at other venues I usually give very sort of I start out very elementary, it's sort of like what is virtual, reality I know you guys know what is virtual reality so. Here, I'm going to skip some of the basics I want instead focus, on supplying. Some, context. About, talking about the bigger picture of wherever our reality, came from and, that, leads. Into some reasons why virtual, reality is important, not, just to businesses, but to humanity, as a whole. So, we'll start that with a brief, and highly. Abridged, history. Of virtual, worlds, I take, history pretty seriously so when. I talk. About history I'm really looking at I'm. Going away far back. This. Is about, 17,000. Years back, humans, have been trying to create virtual realities, for a very, long time basically. For as long as we've had technology. We've. Been trying to use that technology to escape the real world and enter, fantasy, worlds this, is laughs, cow cave this is from a subterranean, complex. In the, southwestern, part of France and in. These caves some of the first modern, humans in Europe, decorated. These caverns, with hundreds, of pictures of animal. And symbols. And abstract, shapes and from. Here and just looking at it as a photograph, it, looks like just scribbling is on the wall but, when you stand inside, these caves it, becomes, clear, that these, creators, were actually, creating, a virtual. World. Think. Of it this way just, like when you put on a virtual reality headset part. Of the reason why you have that headset is because, it's blocking, out the world around you it's closing, off this lecture, realm so that you're only paying attention to the screen in front of you that's, what these caves did you would go down into these caves from the valley above and you're no longer in the woods you're no longer in this in this beautiful part of France you're, in this specific. Space, where, they have painted, this stuff on the walls created. This imagery, around you and the, idea was that the caves themselves, are the immersive environment, these, animals, would surround, you they're in your face and, the. Artists use all kinds of perspective, tricks to actually make them seem alive so. Instead of just being this, is just kind of a profile, of above a bull or of an Oryx, some, of the pictures the head of the bull would be turned, towards. The viewer other ones like you can see in this cave entrance some of the paintings actually have the bull start, on one wall and turn. The corner so it seems like animal, is actually, moving and so they used all these tricks to make the scene come, alive the. Author. End and the technologists, hired Rheingold calls this. Subterranean. Cyber, spaces, and I.

Think That's pretty accurate because, what, the people who created this were probably trying, to do was. To imprint, information. On to, the minds of the people viewing it the, idea being that like okay we need to teach young. People what it's like to go on the hunt to be surrounded, by these deadly animals, so, you could take them down on the caves and show them like this is what it looks like these are where the animals are or maybe, it had some sort of religious, function or something like that but the idea always, being this, is the experience. This is what it's like to, be surrounded by these animals so. Eventually the cave men left their caves so. This is sort of the next step of Lascaux, cave, is when we look at things like this this. Is, the. Great, theater of a fetus in Turkey. This, was constructed around 2300, years ago and, the. Word theater, in ancient, Greek actually. Kind of translates, to viewer, so. This was an ancient. VR, viewer the, idea here was not just oh this is a platform, for a play the. Idea was that they were using, the. Most cutting-edge, technology. Available to them at the time to. Immerse, people in. Whatever play, whatever presentation. They were doing on that stage they. Had this semicircular, amphitheater. That was because that shape amplifies, sound waves, so you could have one little guy there onstage and all the thousands, of people in the seats could hear what he was saying, they. Used mechanical, devices, that. A thing called a McCain which, looks sort of like a trebuchet, it had like levers. And wires and stuff and the. Meccan would lift actors, up into the air and make it look like they were flying if. You ever heard of the expression the. Deus Ex mashina, that's. Actually where that comes from the machine ax is the mecha Aang they, used elaborate, props and, costumes and. Settings. And and and backdrops. In front of the play with, the whole idea being. We're. Going, to create this immersive environment. And the people in the audience aren't, just gonna think that they're watching, some, people on a stage they're, gonna think they're here. In this, fantasy world. So. These on these, performances, really drew audiences, into a simulated environment, another, way to do that is with art this, was a 10th century painting, on an 11, foot wide, scroll, it's. Called the night revels of Han Shi Zhai and, the. Court of the legend this is a record, of an actual, night, in the life of a. Bureaucrat. And he. Was legendary. Legendarily. Just like debauchery he. Was collecting taxes or whatever just spending on parties. And on women, and music, and whatever and the Emperor started to get upset about this he was like I want to know what that guy is doing so. He commissioned, this painting he. Sent a painter, to, one of these parties and said, create. This long scroll, show, me exactly. What this scumbag is up to, so. It's a 10 censor equivalent of like sending a paparazzi, to a party or something it was really about like I want, this thing so I can surround myself with it I can be immersed and really see what's happening, at these madcap parties. Other. Artists, took that idea even further. So. This, is a, panorama. This, was created by. Artist. Robert, Baker there's, an Irishman, he created this and around 1801. And you, can see that this is just a massive, Peyman he did these things three. Stories tall or what he would do is create these giant landscapes. And build. A custom building, and wrapped, the landscape, around the walls of the building so people would enter and stand in the middle and it, would feel like they're on the coast of Scotland or they're, in the middle of London or something like that. He, patented the technique, as the panorama. They built these things all, over, Scotland and, London and even, a couple in, other countries, around the world there. Were immensely popular tourist, attractions. Because. They were so immersive at, the. Time when. Newspapers wrote, about these immersive, paintings. Some, of them actually said this, is an alternative, to travel, we. Don't ever need to go anywhere again, because. We can do this you can see what it's like out there and in the real world and it's funny to read those old newspaper, stories, because they read a lot like some, of the newspaper stories I've seen the last couple years about VR especially. If you look at like the press release is released by like hotel, chains that have done VR apps and stuff like that they're like oh come see what our hotel is like and stuff like that you can experience, the world just like you you could if you're actually there, obviously. It's not as good as the real thing but for the time this, was really immersive, this was virtual reality, for them the. Next way to create virtual, realities was by transporting. Audiences, and to immersing, them into. Their subject, matter using. Optics. Not. Art the, first real generation, of VR manufacturers, were opticians, they were not artists, and that.

Was Because of a particular phenomenon that makes VR possible, take, a second everybody close your left eye and look, at me through your right eye. And then close your right eye and look at me with your left and go back and forth like this now. One reason I do that is because it's really funny to me to see a whole bunch of people do that at once but. What, you're seeing there is everything sort of shifts, from one eye to the other. That's called parallax, it's because your eyes are slightly spaced, apart so, they each have a slightly different view of the world your, brain takes that information, it knows okay left I saw this here right I saw this here and it uses that data to calculate depth, and distance, based. On just the triangle, eye-to-eye door whatever you're, there your brain does the math for you so. These, opticians. Realize that parallax. Would use them would allow them to take images and simulate. That. Using. A visual cue called stereopsis. That's. One of the foundations, of simulated. Depth that we use in all virtual, reality today is this idea of stereopsis, is two separate images a. Very. Smart, English scientist a guy named Sir Charles Wheatstone was. The first person, to identify this, phenomenon, 1838. And shortly. Idaite after he identified, he created something called a stereoscope. Which, at this point it was, piece. Of wood. Two. Mirrors on a 45-degree, angle and two. Pictures on either end so basically, the idea was you stick your face right in front of these two mirrors one. Reflects, the image over here the other one reflects the image over here if there were slightly different images your, eyes would see them boast at once and create, that false that sense of stereo. Vision. The. Idea. Of this caught on very quickly Wheatstone. Was an academic, so he didn't commercialize, in but, soon after other people were like hey we could make money with this people would want to do this at home there's a guy named Brewster who in 1948. Replaced. The awkward, mirror with, two prisms, and, because. There were prism so you could just put the pictures in front of your face the, prisms also amplify, the image so you could have much more detailed, pictures, so, now you've got something that looks like a pair of binoculars you can just hold it up to your face each, eye seeing a slightly different image and you. Get this view of the entire world as being a big. Beautiful three-dimensional image. Brewster. Stereoscope, made its debut in 1851. At, the, world's very first World's, Fair and Queen. Victoria was one of the first people to try it there and because. She was the Queen and she approved, of it it became, incredibly fashionable. It, was one of the biggest fads of that era and over. 250,000. Of those little cards with the pictures of them were, sold in just, three, months after that, first exhibition, like it's hard for us to imagine now just how much this thing instantly, blew up people. All over Europe were buying these little Brewster stereo scopes these little binoculars and they, became so fashionable. That, it became like a luxury, item saying to show off, rich. Victorians, would buy, mahogany. Stare eva haha nice stereo scopes or big boxes, inlaid with, jewels and. Marble and stuff and this was like the beautiful thing that you would have in your parlor, in Victorian.

Era And people would come over and they, would see these pictures and they would enjoy it so. That's great for, the. Victorians, but. Meanwhile here in the United States we were all about, the quality right, and about the proletarian. Populism. So, here in the United States a writer. And, a poet. And, a, physician a guy by the name of Oliver Wendell, Holmes senior. Said. Well. This device, is great but it's for rich people I'm gonna make the American version I'm gonna make one for the people so. He made it even simpler, he took away the whole box just. Had a stick, basically, on the, end of the stick there would be the two, images that would be combined, into one stereographic image and two little lenses it's. Portable, was. Cheap it. Was easy to construct it, was a stereoscope. For anybody, now. Holmes was a visionary a lot of ways on one hand because he created this thing but also because he said this. Could be a profitable, thing people, would want to build this I don't. Want the money I don't want to I want to share this with the world so. He open sourced it he. Took this design and just gave it away and said, I have designed this stereoscope, anybody, who wants to can. Take my design and produce. It and sell it, and. Thousands of entrepreneurs across, the United States dead so. The home stereotype. Home, stereoscope, quickly became one, of the most popular, entertainment devices, across the United States and eventually, like within 10 or 20 years stereo. Scopes in American homes were, like, TVs. In the, 1980s. Everybody. Had a stereoscope, in the house if not two, or three so. Stereo scopes were a big business but, the problem with stereo scopes is, they. Were static, and they. Only worked for one person okay, because, it. Had to be in front of your eyes and, one. Person had to be getting that stereoscopic. Effect it, wasn't like something you could put up on the wall and have, a whole audience see it because all of you have a different, angle on this image so the stereopsis would work differently for every person the. Answer to that was. To sort of flip the whole idea on its head. Instead. Of using. Two. Images, and. Causing. And would through the use of prisms, or mirrors things to merge those two images so you see them on top of each other this. Idea was let's, just print, the two images on top of each other to start in, different, colors and then, we, can use colored. Filters, so. That each eye only, sees the one we want now. You're all probably familiar with this because you've seen the classic like 3d movie goggles one green one blue that's exactly, what this is a negraph anaglyphic. 3d, is simply, two images and different colors filtered. So that each eye sees the right one creating. Stereopsis. The. Benefit, of this now is as you can see I can project one of these images on a wall doesn't. Matter where you're sitting in this room if you have these glasses you can look at this and you, see this image in 3d that.

Led. To this, we've. Got static at 3d images now that we can put up we could put that Asterius, go but we could put it on the wall. This. Is perfect, for theaters this. Was. Two. Projectors, top. And bottom. And each one had a separate. Filter, and at one read one clean green and, they. Would paint images onto glass slides. This. Was called the Magic Lantern and they would go into a theater and set this up and you could turn on and past it across the room a projected, image and people. Would wear the glasses or hold up a little piece of colored. Paper of their face and it, would allow them to see, these. Bright, vivid, three-dimensional. Images in a theatre. Of. Course they didn't move so this, is what came next this. Is a cinema that cinematograph. This. Was created by Louis, lumière who. You may know as the, father basically of the motion picture industry what. He did was develop. Pictures, instead of having those images painted on the glass slides there, printed, on on cellulose. And, he'd make rolls of them and exposed them and then, same concept. You would have a light behind the lens but. Then crank, through the, images. And they, would display, moving. Images those same anaglyphic, colored, images on a wall and with the glasses now you've got 3d movies, those. Caught. On like, crazy the, first 3d. Images, were pretty 30, movies and stuff were pretty boring, movies. Were very. Simple, very. Static, but movies like this, this. Was at the end of the movie called the Great Train Robbery The Outlaw just turns and shoots at the crowd people. Lost. Their, minds, when they saw this because they thought they were being shot at, like people screamed, they ducked under their seats there's. Another famous story of another Lumiere, film called, the, arrival, of the Train of lassie atoh which, is literally just like a 30-second. Clip of a train pulling into a station, but, the camera, is set so the Train is pulling towards you and as, that train came in people, got up and like bolted out of the theater because it looked like the train was gonna rip, its way out of the screen. Now. That seems silly to us now but that, was the level of immersion of the time like people had never seen that before and they were immersed. Into. These films, it was real to them. The next sort of step of course was to. Do the analytics and the moving pictures this is from a. 1930s. Film called audio, scopic, s-- this is created by metro-goldwyn-mayer. And it, really it reminds me a lot of the. Very first like demos, if you get like a an oculus. Rift or, a vibe or anything else and like they have like the first experience, that you go in there just sort of show off virtual, reality that's what this is but they ran this in movie theaters and, it's literally just a series of clips of people, like pushing things towards the camera okay, just, this dog or, like oh look out there's a there's, a ladder. Coming towards your face things. Exploding. Things popping, out it's, silly it's. Like 10 minutes long it's, a bunch of dumb clips it, was a huge. Hit this, was nominated, for an Academy, Award. Because. This, was the first time in human history people, had really sat in a theater and fell. Immersed, things were actually coming, towards them it was crazy. So. 3d. Films, kind, of turned. Out to be a little bit of a fad at first because. They. Were very limited but they came back big in the 50s, when film. Makers started actually using, some art, and to. Tell stories, you've probably seen this pictures the famous Life magazine, cover this, is from the premiere, of a movie called Bwana devil, Bwana. Devil was based on the true story of guys. Building, a train, across Kenya and these lions kept attacking all the train people on killing them so. But these were actual movies, with plot, and. Now that they had plot the 3d was so much more compelling because it wasn't just throwing stuff at your face it was like oh I have a reason to be afraid of this lion which, then jumps at your face, so. 3d. Fur that appear in the 50s was really, huge it was the big thing then. It started Peter out because. Of television. Everybody. Started to have a TV in their home people. Were like yeah I'd, rather stay here I don't want to go Wow like, this picture is tiny and black and white but. We, don't have to go anywhere so, the, film. Industry, started thinking about well how do we get people to come back and these theaters. This. Was one of the attempts. This. Is Cinerama this. Is a giant. Custom, screen the. Idea, was this screen was so large and it curved, around the audience it, was actually filling, your entire, field, of view so, it's the same theory with a VR headset the, reason why you have that screen, right up close to your eyes is because you want the biggest field of view possible, you don't want gaps you don't want an outline because that's the when you start realizing that you're not where.

You Thought you were this, was supposed to fill your entire field. Of view but. As you can see this. Is extremely, complicated it required three projectors, which, also meant that to make, these movies they had to have three different cameras recording, each scene at each time everything. Had to be synced up electronically. Both during recording and playback was. Incredibly, complicated and incredibly, expensive so, they only ended up installing this and a handful, of theaters across the United States they made less than a dozen Simran, Simran in movies people, loved them when they saw them but, it was just not feasible as a commercial technology. It. Was however inspirational. To certain people. This. Is the creation of a guy named Morton highlake Morton. Heilig was a cinematographer, who. Wanted. To do something bigger and better he had seen. Cinerama. And been impressed and was like wow I like this idea of immersive, film but. The promise language simmer amma is well number one even, though it feels my field of field of view if. I turn around and look at the back of the theater i still realize that my theater and. Even, that it's. In Cinerama, is only audio. And visual. It. Doesn't engage my other senses I don't, think I'm in the, the, Kenyan. Plains. When. I'm watching that movie because it doesn't smell like the Kenyan plains if, I'm running from it from a lion I don't feel like the running of I don't hear it's just I don't get all my senses, involved so. The, first thing that highlight did was he built a headset. He. Took two cathode. Ray tube TVs, and, basically. Just prank. Them onto a headset in front of people's heads. Each one showing, a different image through some lenses and. Was. Like my peckish movies, people, this way it, was really. Unwieldy, didn't work very well I never really got it past the prototype, stage but, it's done this day people cite that it's like well that's the first, VR. Headset, in a sense he made the, first heads-up, display, this. Was a second attempt this was something called sensorama, and as, you can see it was kind of like a ride he would sit down in it inside, that hood was a wraparound, screen so. Everywhere you turned your head you, saw the image going it, also had vibration, controls, so. For instance one of the experiences, you could watch was a guy driving, a motorcycle and, as you drove the motorcycle, they she they, would shake and match up the movements, it had in. Front, of your face a little grill that. Would blow out smells. So. One of the little experiences, in here was a belly dancer, and as. She would belly dance towards you it blew, the smell of cheap perfume in your face. But. This was silly but it was getting more and more immersive, like now you really felt like you were there you could see it you could feel it you could smell it you could hear it. Problem. Was again. Vision. Was. More advanced, than. Technology. And the market, this. Thing was expensive to produce it broke. Super easily and when. It's marketed, like the idea for this was let's put it in amusement parks let's, put in theaters let's, put it on Coney Island, they actually literally put one in Times Square, what. Happens to something left in Times Square. That's. What happened to this thing it was constantly, broken was, vandalized. People, cracked it open to get the quarters out so, like it, was just not a viable business and it kind of went nowhere. Meanwhile. It. Wasn't, just entertainers, trying, to build virtual reality. This. Is an academic, the. Idea here is this was a heads-up. Display it's, hard to see in this picture but this has two very small. Cathode. Ray tubes right in front of your face. This. Academic, is a guy named Ivan Sutherland. He. Would be famous in this story and need to appear in this too we are even if this device never happened, because ivan sutherland invented something called sketchpad.

Which. Was the very first computer. Graphics software, he. Was the first guy to make a piece of software that allowed you to draw, using, the help of a computer geometric. Shapes and stuff like that so that was you know the, Adam and Eve of every. Computer-aided. Design tool, every graphics program you've ever used sketchpad, started with it so. Once he had sketch pad once he had a way to draw, these virtual, things, he's. Like well how can I present that in a better display he. Wrote an essay actually called the ultimate, display where he described where. We're moving with this technologies, at some point we'll get to a display, the. Computers, can draw a world so, real and so convincing. That it'll be completely indistinguishable. From, reality. Now. It took a long while to get there and we're still not there but that was what he was trying to attempt here so, we had these, two CRT. Displays in front of your eyes they, were actually, transparent. So. His program, would draw. Geometric. Images. Triangles. Cube, stuff like that and because. The whole thing was suspended. You, could move your head and the, triangles, and squares and stuff would appear, in the, real world, very. Much like the augmented, reality headsets. That we'd see in the, 21st, century because. This thing was so big and unwieldy he'd. Gave it the nickname the sword of Damocles because, he always felt like it was just dangling over his head and was gonna fall and just kill in one day but. This was a really important, piece. Of hardware that got people thinking about oh yeah, I guess you know we can use computers, now to. Create these simulated, environments. The. Other group that was really paying a lot of attention to this was the US military. They. Reasoned, that. Virtual. Reality could, be used to help them control, the, massive, amounts of information that, come and come, through into in warfare, and running, a plane for instance, this. Is something. Created by an engineer named Tom Sutherland, who, was working with. The Air Force on a program, to allow pilots. To. Do. With everything in their cockpit, before, he started on this a cop eyelet, was saying to him there's, so much stuff I have to deal with they've got all my flight. Controls, I've got, all the radar, data but, if I'm going into combat I also have all the information about my weapons. I've got maps of where I'm supposed to drop bombs like it was just too much information to deal with and he asked this pilot okay draw me a picture of like the ideal. Cockpit. The perfect, cockpit and how you would control everything and the pilot drew him a picture and the surprising, thing about it was that the pilot in the picture had six arms like.

That Was the only way to access and control this information, so, Furnaces, idea was let's, just get rid of all that data let's put one of these digital, displays. Like Sutherland, created in the sword of Damocles and, put, that in front of the pilots face and then, you can just give him the, information he needs at any given time the. Same way with the computer-generated, rendered. Images if you're flying over a target this thing would like give, you a little dot, on the ground like okay this is where your target is it could give you a little electronic graph of your fuel and stuff like that they. Called this the Darth Vader helmet for obvious reasons, this was one iteration. And many of different projects, but throughout. The. 1980s. And into, the 90s this is what the, US military, was doing was trying to find a way to, make this idea ever smaller, and more, comfortable and get more computerized, information into, that display. Late. 80s, and early 90s the. Technology, becomes even more refined, we, now have better screens, we. Now have faster, computers, so. These are, products. Created by a company called VP L was. Created by a guy named Jaron Lanier is actually the guy who coined. The phrase virtual, reality he. Was a very gifted still is a very gifted engineer, and his. Vision was not, just. The headset, but, to really immerse people in, the entire world so one of the first things in fact the thing that kind of got him in the virtual reality was, first, he was creating, these. These, gloves these data gloves with, the idea being that he was going to create a way to control. Instruments. Using like virtual, gloves so. You wouldn't actually need a guitar you, could just do this and it would register where your fingers were and then, you realize wait this could also be a computer, input device, and it's, sort of evolved. Into okay, well if it's going to be an input device we, need an interface we need to display and, VPL, developed, everything, from, the goggles, which were called iPhones. Uie. Phones. But still iPhones they. Developed, these data gloves they even had full bodysuits you could put on so, that if you were in one of these computer generated environments you could walk around the, computer knew where you were if. You, saw a virtual, reality movie, in the 1990s. They, can like lawnmower man was one of the really bad but famous ones Johnny, mnemonic another. One a lot. Of times the partner that shows up in this movies are these was vpl hardware those bob these bodysuits. VPL, had. Amazing. Technology, there. Was a big, boom, at the time of all my god virtual reality look at this it's real it's, the future. VPL, kind of crashed and burned though for a couple of reasons, part, of which just sort of inexperience, around running a business but also because I think the technology just wasn't ready yet this. Was cool. But. Look at those graphics in the background, this. Is 1991. Computer. Graphics still not super great certainly. Not photorealistic, and, the, processing, power for the computers involved number one. Required. Massive, expenditures, you basically needed like a super, computer to run this thing so. It was not a thousand, dollar set this top it was more like a hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and.

The Experience. Was just not good enough and so, VR started, to get the reputation of, it's. A great idea but doesn't really work, you. Put this on it, makes you sick it. Makes, you barf and because. That's the recurring, problem, with virtual, reality for these decades is. Our. Bodies, have a mechanism. Where. If, our, eyes or, ears or one of our senses, is, telling, us something that's. In disagreement. With our other senses, for. Instance if I start hallucinating. My. Body thinks, that I have been poisoned. Because. Over millions, of years of evolution, that, wood is what would make you hallucinate you, ate some mushroom, that you found in the forest while you're a foraging, and now you're tripping out and your body's like oh god I'm poisoned, I'm dying I'm gonna throw this up so that I don't die that's. Why people get simulation, sickness because these simulations. Are just, not real enough your eyes are seeing one thing but your body isn't feeling it or your, eyes see the image and you turn your head and it. Takes a second for the image to catch up, so. Your body thinks, oh I'm being poisoned, and it's an unpleasant. Experience to, say the least so that's why this generation. Of VR kind of died on the vine. Then. We get to this. This. Is what happened in the 90s this is why we, are where, we are now with. Virtual, reality two, things actually one is the rise of smartphones, finally. We, have high-definition. Bright. Beautiful. Fast, responsive. LCD. Screens, LED. Screens OLED. Screens whatever, you want they keep getting better and better so now it. Looks, more and more real we've, also got faster, and smaller processors. That go into these devices and they're being made so often, millions, and millions of these devices being made the price keeps coming down he's getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper, the. Sort of complimentary thing that happened at the same time was, video games not. Just console, video games but especially like 3d, video games things, like world of warcraft, like all the sort of immersive world video games how, are improving, our computer, graphics program, so. We, can simulate, we've, gone from now sketchpad, where we're just drawing cubes. And triangles, - now we're drawing really, convincing. Virtual. Environments, and. So. The type that technology, sort of set the table for. The, modern VR, stuff we've seen today and, everything from cardboard, to. The. Oculus. Rift to. The HTC vive like. All of those headsets. Really. Came out of that. Direct environment, in fact in, the, book I go on way more detail about this stuff which is what, you guys probably know a lot about but the very first. Prototypes. Of the oculus rift used. Phones. Like. He was yanking, phone headsets and using those screens. So. That's what enabled, this modern, generation of, VR to happen. So. What. Does this all mean I want to take some questions from you guys and I want to discuss this a lot further but I think, it I think the lesson from history that we get is a couple of things one. Is that, virtual. Reality is not a novelty. It. Is a new technology. And I run into a lot of people who say to me, come. On VR like it's really happening this time be. Sure it's not just a gimmick, I. Say. No for two reasons one is because the technology finally, works now two. Is because this history, has shown us this. Isn't just like a new toy this is something that humans have been trying to do for, tens of thousands, of years we, finally, have the.

Ability. To. Convincingly. Simulate, virtual, worlds, that's. Not going to go away the. Technology, needs to get better the. Content. Needs to get better but, I have no doubt in my mind that, yes people are really, going to want to go into a virtual world for, hours for days to disappear, because it's it's, clearly part of our. Humanity. Several. Things I think need to happen to get there one is hardware. Needs to get better, screens. Enough to get need to get even brighter and higher resolution, processors. Need to get faster. Headsets. Just need to get more comfortable right, now that's a thing like just wearing this thing in your head hurts. After a while so. That's where you guys come in you have to work out these minor, technical, problems of like well how, do we get this technology, to work better and better but I'm, convinced. That this, human, drive this, need to put. Ourselves into, virtual, worlds, is not, going to go away. One. Last thing before I take questions that I wanted to bring up is this guy I, think. You all know who he is and I think you know what the silly looking thing on his face is. Google. Glass. Was. A, very. Early example of augmented, reality the, idea of being that instead of hiding, you away in a virtual world we're, putting the the digital objects, into the real world in front of you. This. I. Was. About to say in front of an audience of Googlers, that this was a failure I. Think, that's that there's an argument to make one way or another I think, the issue here was this. Was, ahead of, its time. This, was not a bad device, it did, cool stuff it. Was just, too. Early for. Society, people weren't ready for this and I, think you know people kind of got into this idea of like Oh going out in public like this you're a glass whole just. Because it was so brand new like the ice hadn't been broken, well. Sergey. Broke the ice. So. Now, we're starting to see more of these augmented, reality headsets. Start to come out everybody's. Got it on their phones but also Microsoft. Is developing the hololens you've, probably read about magic leap it's coming out with an AR headset later this year I think, those, are going to be in. Terms of business at least even. Bigger than virtual reality because, the benefit of augmented, reality is, you can do it anywhere, you can take it with you anywhere if. I want to be in VR I got to go to a safe space because I'm shutting off the world around me I'm not gonna walk down the street in VR this. I can walk down the street with and this I will walk down the street with especially, when it doesn't make me look like a jerk for wearing it when, it's just like a normal pair of glasses or even just like a pair of contacts, that you're wearing there's no reason why people don't want that extra information and so, that's another sort of a take. Away I want to give you guys it's like I know that there's other stuff like this happening here at Google the. Project, tango stuff that you're doing is very exciting, but, augmented. Reality is, just. As important it's not going to be bigger than virtual. Reality and it's another technology, worth, chasing so. That's. Where we'll leave it for now I want to take your questions I want to talk about AR and VR and, Dungeons. & Dragons we, want to talk about my first book any questions come on up let's chalk. So. You. Say that humans. Been working, on creating, worlds that we can escape to for the entire history of humanity so. If. Everything. Is virtual reality then, what does that term mean or. Like how how. What, does, that term create a bounds around that makes it still useful to us it's, it's, a really important, question because I think right. Now we have this very sort of arbitrary, definition, of those virtual reality in this reality if I do something on the computer it isn't real, but.

I Could tell you something I've done some VR, demos, where. I went through them and I experienced, very real emotions. It. Felt, very real at the time and, now. That I've walked away with it from it I don't look back at the experience, and say boy. I remember that time when I was wearing a piece of metal on my head and there were photons, being blasted into my eyes no. I say, remember that time when I spelunked. Through an ancient Forgotten, temple, and, had to fight off bats with a torch, so. I remember it like it was a real experience and, I think we're getting, to a point where that. Divide, of this is a virtual reality isn't in a manner because, it was reality to me I experienced. That. It. May not have been real in the realest sense but it's as real as my other memories it's, as real as walking, down the street here so. The. Quick answer is that I think the idea of virtual reality is going to go away and I think it'll just simply be we've. Got different, environments, there's the physical world we live in and there will be the digital world we live in it won't be any less real than this one because you experienced, it and you effected, it and you changed, it and it changed you just. This world versus that world. Anybody. Else. Hey. Great talk thanks for coming here, all. The. Historical. Technology. That you showed in the pursuit of creating those. Virtual. Immersive, experiences. Had, the side effect of bringing people together socially. Whether it was coming. To the movies coming to the theater the. Difference with this is that, that. Isolation aspect, makes, it the. Most. Anti-social. Experience, you can have. What. Is your opinion as, we start to see, much, more. Aware efforts of digital wellness and like side effects of smartphone, addiction and, is ever-present. Technology. In our lives how that affects us socially. And emotionally how. Modern. VR deals. With that sure I think, there are some legitimate concerns about, virtual, reality being, a isolating, technology, because, you are putting on this thing that cuts you off from the world I have all my VR rigs in my apartment, right now I've, put on something, I go to play beat Sabre or some RPG or something and my wife is sitting there and like she'll try and talk to me I don't even hear her I have headsets in I disappear.

To Another place that happens, on a much larger scale maybe where if people who are less. Than happy with their real lives could sort of disappear into this technology just sort of be like I'm. Gonna live in these VR things I think. Though virtual. Reality has much more potential, for good in this area than it does for negative you have to look at things like the social experiences, that are being created for VR I, did, a demo for. Alt space which some of you might be for my which this is one of these very first very basic, sort of social vr platforms, you can log in together you see each other as avatars. Very, simple, sort of polygons, all robots. Basically. They don't look like real people but, you can move around in the space you can talk to people VR. Chat is another app like this that people use but like I did that alt space demo and I did it with the CEO of alt space I was, in New York he was in Silicon Valley and we. Talked to each other he showed me around the the, environment and we talked and at. The end of it I felt. Like I had met this guy, like. I knew him even though I'd even been staring at a weird polygonal avatar I hadn't even met him but, the interaction, was more physical and, it. Just it was, much, more than being on a phone call or a video chat and that's like. Generation. Point zero one of these virtual realities both social spaces, I think, these tools are going to become a way for people to connect with each other - you've got friends, who live in different. Parts of the world you can come together in a virtual chat room you haven't seen each other for a while you actually see each other and interact. With each other and socialize. Maybe, you want to meet people from other cultures you can go into these rooms and I can hang, out with people who live in Zimbabwe. Who I would never meet otherwise it's, a lot like you were seen on chat rooms and stuff on the internet but this way we actually have that physical connection when. The system's get really good I can look in your eyes I can we can make eye contact, I can see your facial expressions, it becomes, like. A real social interaction, I think that's going to be really good for people. Another. Another. Common thing with the older. Technologies. They. All have some sort of drawback. That prevented them from what. You said looking, photorealistic for, instance the stereoscope, is a static, image I, would, argue that anaglyph, 3d has. Loss. Of color fidelity some. People just doesn't work right, some. Glasses don't just work right um. And yet. At the same time we. Are living in a. Revival. Of, this, kind of thing at. A very large scale and yet we are still not as photorealistic technology. So I guess the question is at, what point or. Maybe. We are already at this point. Does. Okay. So we've, developed an aesthetic. Of VR is this. Good enough could, we stop and is it worth to keep going or is, there value in the aesthetic, of not, quite photorealistic. VR. I think, there's value in the aesthetic as you say of not, quite VR of having a VR look like I said and things like VR chat and alt space does, not look real at no point do you actually think I am. Literally, in this other place it's obvious, from your eyes this is a computer simulation, but. The. Experience, is such and also parts of your brain are not smart enough they don't know, what a simulation, is like I think that the lizard part of your brain lights up in virtual reality simulations. And it says. Well. It looks like I'm here so I guess I'm here so. You get this feeling of presence and in that sense bad graphics, are good enough because you've convinced, your brain enough to lose yourself in the simulation, even, if and that sort of level of higher reasoning you never forget that this is a simulation sure, feels real. Ian's Israel now. I think we also will, get to a place where photorealism, gets better and better I think one of the things we probably do there is move away from screens, even. Though screens are getting better and more and more higher resolution, we probably are going to need something like holographic, technology and, they're literally beaming the photons into your eyes because. Then that, helps with eye strain but also now. You're not focused. On something in front of your face that's one of the big problems with with. Eye strain, and with, the realism problems with VR right now is even though it looks like you're looking at far slang far away your eyes are literally focused on something an inch from your face these, holographic technologies. Don't have that problem and then. I don't, know how high-tech you guys want to get here at Google but I am really looking forward to my direct, to brain computer, interface that's. What we need is we need direct, stimulation, of the optic nerve we, need you know that's, when you get photorealistic that's, when you get into you know Theo Asus the Metaverse, you know those worlds, where it, is just, as real as this one.

So. It seems like for for a while like movie theaters have kind of been at the forefront of like this. Making. This technology, work for the masses and like even now you see theaters that have I think. It's for DX RealD, 3d that, like you're in like a moving chair that's they're like spraying sense at you and it's kind of like the device that was shown and talked but for, a larger, audience but, it also kind of feels like, there's. Some diminishing returns for that do you think that like movie theaters will continue, to kind of drive. That in terms of like trying these new crazy ideas first or is that going to come down to like. New smaller, companies, I can. Tell you that all of the, big, theater, chains are looking at VR, they're. Looking at in a couple of different ways one is that they see VR as a way to preview. Their movies like, oh you, know we still want to get people to pay. $12. Or here in Manhattan $19. To sit down in a seat and watch a movie so maybe if we release VR previews, people, will experience that and then be like oh we have to see in person there, are also there are companies saying hey maybe we just have the VR experience where it lots of people in the room we're in the headsets together because. Part of what's good about the theater experience is the shared, laugh. And, cry and, so. Maybe. If, we're all swearing screens as long as you can hear the people around you laughing and sighing like maybe that'll be good enough I think. This all comes from the fact that movies are really a dying business because, our home, entertainment systems are getting so much better so the movie theaters and, movie production. Companies are trying anything, when. It comes to the studio's the movie studios are investing, big and making free our content, they, want to transition. From putting stuff on screens, in theaters to putting it on a screen in your house and so. Everybody from Fox to Sony and like all the big movie studios they are already. Making. VR, movies and they do see that as the, future maybe not the only way of consume, movies in the future but a very, big part of it and. Then the other thing when you talk about these social experiences, is that a lot of companies are investing especially the small sort of startup ones are investing, in, physical. Social. VR. Experiences. For instance there's this company called the void in Salt Lake City they, have a few different locations or some one Orlando, there's one here in Times Square and that's the one where you wear the headset that blocks you out from the world but. You actually walk around a set and so. There's furniture you can bump into and, there's, rickety, stairs you can climb and those, things are all echoed in the simulation, and that's. A group experience it's like the one in Times Square is the Ghostbusters, you. All you and three friends put on headsets, and you are the Ghostbusters you can see each other in the simulation, you can talk to each other but, you're actually moving around and having a social experience, and that, probably, is sort of the theater, like, experience. Of the, 21st, century, it's yeah. We still all want to go to a place and buy tickets and be together physically, but, this is our way to enjoy this virtual environment together. Thanks. Any. Other questions. Awesome. Well thank you guys so much for coming there's. Books in the corner and come, and talk to me anytime thanks. So much, you. You.

2018-08-19 03:29

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It's interesting that human has been trying to create the virtual reality in some form or the other. All these experiments are at the material level, what would be more interesting is to tap into the potential of subtler bodies like mind and it's consciousness. It will be easier to create a richer experience at the level of thoughts, more like different people reading the book interpret it differently. We know that we create our realities by projecting it out. Great talk, thank you.

A "revolution" that has still yet to come. It's looking like Facebook will never make the $2-3 Billion they paid for Oculus, and HTC/Valve's Vive hasn't been doing so hot as well recently. Sales are way down on both, and there is just no compelling VR software (or at least not a lot). I do think VR will eventually be a thing but...it still has a long way to go before it becomes anything other than a cool gimmick or awesome 3 hr experience.

They'll likely make their money back through patent and software licensing of the technology developed during product research, and also special applications of their tech for business and military. Public products are often good design testing and brand promotion for the more lucrative business to business and military contracts.


It's hardly a gimmick lol. I've been using the Rift since 2016 and it's incredible. It's the best piece of tech I've bought in the last 20 years, easily. VR/AR will replace monitors within 10 years. And yes, they will make their money back... the growth is exponential. The only problem VR has is getting people curious enough to try VR. Once they do, most are blown away by it and get interested.

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