Outlier Virtual Reality

Day 158 Week 23 Q2 Thursday, June 8, 2023

If you have been a technology person for the last forty or fifty years, you have been tracking virtual reality. Especially if you worked in audio, video, signal processing or any kind of rich media. Just like artificial intelligence and speech recognition, it has been just around the corner and almost here.

We had head tracking and spatial audio projects going on at Bose forty years ago. And 3d video with its accompanying 3d audio soundtracks and VRML, the virtual reality markup language as compared to HTML thirty years ago. There were industry meetings about Virtual reality all over Silicon Valley. At Apple, we created VR versions of QuickTime. So this is not new stuff. I even founded a company called ESCAtech, which delivered 3D projects to Microsoft, Apple, Bose and other large firms. We created many trade show demos.  And it is still almost here.

As a media technology creative outlier who worked at both Bose and Apple before founding a multimedia company, I spent twenty years messing around with this stuff. Just felt like letting you all know this is not something that has just come about. It may be older than most of you. This does not diminish how cool it is for certain populations and what potential benefits it will undoubtedly deliver.

But it is a big but. Most of the world still does not want to wear screens on their faces. And most of the world will not spend more money on virtual reality than they spend on real reality. Our mostly post-pandemic world is already not in touch with itself. People are more isolated and less happy than they were three years ago. Even though Zoom is wonderful and cool, it is not as good as a hug from a real person.

Will there be places the virtual reality is really useful? No doubt there will be plenty, but right now, humanity is already too polarized, segmented, siloed and basically out of touch with each other to invest too much energy in getting further out of sync with each other. Hey, I am a technology advocate of the first order, having spent much of my life developing and exercising these technologies, but right now, this is not what we need. 

We need to spend time with each other to know each other. Because if we do not know each other, then we can trust each other. And if we can not know and trust each other, we can not help each other, which is what humanity must concentrate on now. We have only two choices. Think only about ourselves and what is in it for me, with more always being better, or consider that we do have to be concerned about each other and take care of each other, or we will perish as a species. It is that simple.