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Tag Archives: Virtual reality

Meta, the Company Formerly Known as Facebook

Perspective by Ernest Worthman

Well, it finally happened. The move to rename the internet is official. If Facebook believes it, it must be true. Facebook changing its name to Meta means that the race to adopt the term is on, full steam.

It will be interesting to see how it will now be promoted. I am pretty sure I smell a marketing rat. With Facebook throwing its weight behind meta, can the rest of the tech section be far behind? I recently penned a column on the metaverse and talked about it becoming the new moniker for the internet. It was a bit tongue-in-cheek and forward-looking; however, I also talked about how I was behind the re-spin and how the metaverse will become the new catch-all for the multitude of internet-related platforms and technologies. That position is a good concept.

Caution should be taken that this re-spin does not get out of control. By that I mean there is the usual danger of overhyping the rework. Overhyping was the case with 5G, and there is some of that in beyond 5G (B5G), already. In everyone’s haste to spin the term to their particular concept, one has to remember that the term metaverse is defined as a digital platform.

According to the company called Metaverse, it is one of the first public blockchains in China, and it has been operating successfully. It enables third-party developers to build decentralized applications. It also enables building metaverse on substrate, whatever that means. The Metaverse website is rather ambiguous, but it gives an interesting look at the term metaverse.

Wikipedia describes metaverse as “the concept of a future iteration of the internet, made up of persistent, shared, 3D virtual spaces linked into a perceived virtual universe. The metaverse, in a broader sense, may not only refer to virtual worlds but the internet as a whole, including the entire spectrum of augmented reality.”

Nvidia sees the metaverse as a bunch of worlds connected virtually. Just as the physical universe is a collection of worlds connected in space, the metaverse is a collection of virtual worlds. Hmmm… that sounds familiar. Nvidia’s concept is creating another reality, another world that is a rich as the real world. Their term for that is omniverse. Now the concept becomes a bit less foggy and sounds a lot like virtual reality.

As it turns out the metaverse is not all that new. It has been around for decades in the form of virtual reality (VR). In fact, a platform called Second Life, a virtual hangout space, has been around for more than 10 years and once had a million members.

Generally, the first real VR is attributed to Ivan Sutherland, a computer scientist who would ultimately be named the father of computer graphics. He laid out his idea for the ultimate display in 1965. The ultimate display would use head-mounted displays (HMDs) and computers to render a realistic, interactive world with accompanying audio in real time.

Next, in 1968 Sutherland and his student, Bob Sproull, introduced the Sword of Damocles. It consisted of an HMD connected to a computer. This was the first, somewhat primitive, instance of a VR/AR headset. The weight of the headset required it to be mounted to the ceiling, with the user strapped into the device. The primitive graphics consisted of wireframe renderings. That is where it all began.

So, one can say that the metaverse is just the final iteration of VR — as well as AR, Qualcomm’s MR and Microsoft’s XR, and whatever else the marketers can come up with. Examples of that are digital twins, massive multiplayer online games (MMOs) and video conferencing. It is all just digital reality (DR — hope this sticks).

Modern VR has been struggling, for a while, now. The main reason is that it takes a boatload of resources to make it look like anything beyond stick figures and line drawings. Only in the past few years has technology developed the processing power, high-speed memory, small form factor hardware and fast code to bring it closer to real-world imagery.

So, is the metaverse just the next iteration of DR? Seems that way. Yet, there are lots of overtones that it will be the next internet.

Therein lie some dangers. I already get an uneasy feeling that the marketers are hot on getting some new material to breathe some new life into the internet and shoehorn all the disheveled part of it into the metaverse. After all, at this early stage, one can paint the metaverse label on pretty much anything. Are we going to use the term as a curiosity hook to reel in people to things that are only partially or not at all digital?

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is plowing ahead full steam with the metaverse concept. In the recent Facebook connect event, he touted his meta platform as being the ultimate platform for get-togethers, work, play, learn, shop — you name it. One interesting thing he said was that the metaverse will enable concepts and experiences outside of the digital realm today. I have to wonder what that means.

The real metaverse enabler will be 5G — and a bit better technology — particularly low latency and mmWave spectrum. This will lead to better wearables and the ability to use the platform in real time. However, but that is at least five to 10 years out, so we have plenty of time to work on it.

Finally, there are those worrying about how VR can become perceived reality for some. The notion that one can escape while the world crumbles around them may sound utopian, but there is always the danger that some may, for whatever reason, not want to come back.

There is also the potential for nefarious activities — hate groups, subversive plotting and crime, conceived in a virtual world and played out in the real one.

Personally, I like the concept of a metaverse. I already do MMOs and video conferencing. I am curious how that will port to glasses, eyewear and other ocular — perhaps even integrated — devices as this evolves. I would love to have a tank, airplane, ship or other virtual program linked to my DR headset and a physical mock-up of a real cockpit with pneumatics and electronics. I just wonder what will happen if I flame out in a hail of gunfire or get hit by an antitank rocket and die in a fully virtual world. Remember, if you die in the Matrix’s virtual world, you die for real.

Mixed, Virtual and Augmented Reality Coming to a Pair of Goggles Near You

By Ernest Worthman, IEEE Senior Member

Some might argue that mixed reality (MR) will, eventually, become the top of the reality pyramid. This is mainly due to its ability to interact, in real time, with surroundings. While that argument has merit, there is always the case where the best, or most sophisticated, is not necessary. And, do not forget, all layers of the pyramid have potential applications. Exactly, how the reality road will wind is somewhat fuzzy. However, 2018 will see the various flavors of reality develop some clearer vectors.

Up until now, virtual reality (VR) has garnered the lion’s share of the attention. However, augmented reality (AR) will finally gain traction in 2018. In fact, industry gossip seems to think AR will be what sees the most advancement.

There are several reasons for the pace of development of the various renditions of reality and how they will carve out their specific niches once the technology enables it.  Of course, in the early stages, where we are presently, what can be done, and for how much, is the primary development engine. For that reason, VR has led the pack.

However, technology for the development of AR advanced significantly in 2017, thusly, it is likely to see the most acceleration in 2018. MR is still, largely, on the drawing board and requires significant resources and a model of interfacing in real time that will take a while to develop – in both technology and applications. Therefore, the excitement for 2018 will be in the AR segment.

AR has a large application base. VR is being relegated, mostly, to gaming while AR is targeting the enterprise. The biggest roadblock has been the difficulty in developing AR headsets that can match the performance of VR units. The main reason is that AR takes a lot more resources and processing than VR, and encompasses a much larger environment.

AR will get a bump in 2018 from Apple, as well. They are staunch proponents of AR, and have recently launched something called the ARKit. In addition, it is rumored that they are also working on their own AR headset. If the headset goes public, 2018 could well be the year that AR gains significant traction. In fact, the research firm, Gartner, believes that AR will become one of the leading technologies in 2018.

As far as MR goes, look for slow but steady progress. However, eventually, MR will emerge as its own product and not, necessarily, the amalgamation of VR and AR as some seem to think.

Both AR and MR have markets. There will be some crossover. MR will take the market that demands high-end reality – things that will not work well with AR. Gartner notes that MR is “emerging as the immersive experience of choice providing a compelling technology that optimizes its interface to better match how people view and interact with their world.”

The truth is that all three platforms will continue to evolve. The lion’s share will go to AR, with MR bubbling just below the surface, for a while. VR will be steady as she goes.

Spoilers

There are not a lot of possible distruptions in this segment. The biggest impediment is the industry itself. If it realizes that AR and MR are sister technologies, each with different market segments, and keeps that in the target zone, progress for both should go unimpeded. However, if there is dissention in the ranks and the players try to make AR and MR competitors, that will create a bit of havoc and slow progress for both platforms.

Other than that, there is little that can stall the progress of the segment as a whole.


Ernest Worthman
Executive Editor/Applied Wireless Technology
His 20-plus years of editorial experience includes being the Editorial Director of Wireless Design and Development and Fiber Optic Technology, the Editor of RF Design, the Technical Editor of Communications Magazine, Cellular Business, Global Communications and a Contributing Technical Editor to Mobile Radio Technology, Satellite Communications, as well as computer-related periodicals such as Windows NT. His technical writing practice client list includes RF Industries, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Agilent Technologies, Advanced Linear Devices, Ceitec, SA, and others. Before becoming exclusive to publishing, he was a computer consultant and regularly taught courses and seminars in applications software, hardware technology, operating systems, and electronics. Ernest’s client list has included Lucent Technologies, Jones Intercable, Qwest, City and County of Denver, TCI, Sandia National Labs, Goldman Sachs, and other businesses. His credentials include a BS, Electronic Engineering Technology; A.A.S, Electronic Digital Technology. He has held a Colorado Post-Secondary/Adult teaching credential, member of IBM’s Software Developers Assistance Program and Independent Vendor League, a Microsoft Solutions Provider Partner, and a life member of the IEEE. He has been certified as an IBM Certified OS2 consultant and trainer; WordPerfect Corporation Developer/Consultant and Lotus Development Corporation Developer/Consultant. He was also a first-class FCC technician in the early days of radio. Ernest Worthman may be contacted at: [email protected]

Big Data and the Many Flavors of Virtual Reality

January 3, 2017 —

Ernest Worthman

Executive Editor, Applied Wireless Technology

worthmanBig Data will gain more traction as will the various renditions of interactive computer-generated 3D environments: virtual reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Merged Reality (MR) or XR. Big Data will not only become invaluable to businesses, but will play a huge role in XR, allowing it to become mainstream. One such vector is subscriber data management (SDM). Under the Big Data umbrella, mobile network operators will, finally, be able to monetize their biggest asset – their customers. Something that has long been out of the reach of the MNO.

The IoX will begin to enable a universal Big Data interconnect network that will allow XR to provide experiences unheard of today, from the enterprise to the consumer.

In 2017, these XR systems will focus primarily on entertainment and education, mostly with experimental applications in communications, data visualization and enterprise situational awareness. As 2017 progresses these platforms will become more established and widespread via the capabilities of Big Data and data mining and analysis apps. Business will begin to use them for any number of applications.

The Big Data scene will see strong growth in all kinds of technology availability “as-a-service” (XaaS – or anything-as-a-service) as cloud platforms mature. Another enabling factor is that hardware for such platforms is on the fast track so expect an uptick in deployment in 2017. Finally, advancements and refinements in Big Data analysis techniques, algorithms and hardware will build meaningful databases that can be of use to any and all types of organizations – from government to consumer.

Move Over VR and AR, Here Comes MR

November 15, 2016 — 

By Ernest Worthman

Executive Editor, AGL Small Cell Magazine

 We are all pretty familiar with virtual reality (VR), which has been around for a while now. Augmented reality (AR) is another version of VR, a bit more recent. Now, the next reality has been unveiled by Intel – merged reality (MR).

Hype or reality (no pun intended), merged reality takes both VR and AR to another level by combining power, wireless communication, VR glasses, and a pair of RealSense cameras that face out to provide positioning information as well as video streams.

Using a head-mounted display (HMD), one can merge video from the real world into a virtual world, something that is limited in AR to a user’s normal view of the world.

The core of MR is the use of Intel RealSense cameras that provide 3D range information and video. This information can be utilized in a variety of ways, including incorporation into the VR environment presented by the user. This includes adding a view of someone standing in front of the wearer of the HMD. In a demo at the 2016 Intel Developers Forum, Intel’s Craig Raymond used a physical dollar bill with a virtual lathe to do virtual carving.

The cutting edge of this now is the Euclid mobile sensing system that includes a RealSense camera with an Atom-based processor and wireless support. It includes its own battery and runs Ubuntu Linux that also runs the Robot Operating System, which may run on a host of different operating systems and hardware platforms.

Intel’s commitment to RealSense is significant. It complements Intel’s processor and wireless technology. It remains to be seen if its idea of MR will complement or compete with AR and VR applications, but this is only the starting point. The technology will continue to improve, but it is at a point where it can be used to experiment with and deploy applications.

CTIA Super Mobility Week 2016: Wireless is Key to a ‘Smart’ Experience

September 27, 2016

By Ernest Worthman

Executive Editor
AGL Small Cell Magazine

Worthman

EDITORS’ NOTE: This is the last segment in our four-part series deep diving the technology exhibited at the CTIA Super Mobility 2016.

Augmented/virtual reality is slowly coming into its own. While much of this segment is still mounting smartphone inside goggles, the leaders, like Ericsson, Samsung, Oculus, and some others, are raising the bar.

Ericsson had a media room that presented some interesting, cutting-edge reality.  Ericsson set up a very life-like proof of concept demonstration of what its MediaFirst TV viewing experience could look like in a Virtual Reality world.

arvr-smart-experience

Source: CTIA

And, in a really cool interactive experience, guests will be able to control, virtually, construction hardware just like there were on the construction site. This experience uses the Oculus Rift goggles and puts the user in the cab of an excavator. Using very low latency M2M it allows the user to experience instant remote control of the excavator program running at their lab in Plano, Texas.

What makes this novel is the bandwidth required to make this happen in real time. Between that and the low latency, the experience is very realistic. There were others, including Samsung, that offered similar experience.

M2M and the Connected Car

There was a great deal of activity around the connected car. Ford had an ominous presence, highlighting their developer program. Ford’s ISYNC 3 offers developers a ton of new opportunity for bringing content into Ford vehicles. This platform uses vehicle-generated data from sources such as GPS, speed, fuel, oil temperature sensors and more to access data and turn it into driver-friendly content using the SYNC 3 8-inch color touch screen and voice commands.

smart-phone-on-wheelsAnd around that pavilion were a number of vendors with connected car solutions. Mostly M2M-based, these included a novel presentation of a smart car, calling it a smarter phone on wheels, intimating that this smart car can do anything a phone can, and more.

Summit’s VoLTE/RCS-enabled connected car is capable of supporting features like enriched calling, social presence, a heads-up display, seamless roaming, location intelligence, gesture control, on-board diagnostics and APIs for third-party devices.

And, of course, there has to be a mention of the original smart car, KITT, from the 1982 TV show Knight Rider, which was brought in by the show management to enlighten the younger generation.

In Closing

20160908_120419

KITT, the car used in the TV show Knight Rider

There were some interesting, fledgling areas. Like the startup lab that had startup vendors with emerging or developing platforms to present them to attendees and other vendors. CTIA is a good place for getting some visibility on them. There was also a China pavilion, showcasing vendors from China. In fact, many of the retail and consumer vendors were connected to China in one way or another.

And of course, the carriers had their presence, showing what they have in their wheelhouse.

Today, CTIA Super Mobility is a show in transition, as is CTIA. The platform that CTIA was built on has been gone for a while now. The new platform is everything wireless and CTIA has taken the right steps to move into the future.

The partnership with GSMA is a great thing. It will expand CTIA’s reach into the mobile world and begin to move away from the traditional “cell phone case show” that it has been its perception for the past few years.

I have to admit; I will miss the “glam” that the consumer element has been part of the show for a while (can’t wait to see how this goes for next year). But I am so looking forward to the cutting edge wireless technologies that will now play prominently in future generations of wireless technology.

And, finally, no more Vegas!