The Talking Fridge, the Invisible LEGO Set, and Your House on Silent Hill

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Meal: Raw Almonds and dried Pineapple

Where: Santa Clara, Stanford

Oculus sold for 2 billion dollars to Facebook in 2014.  The buzz quickly became the dawn of the virtual age, the one romanticized by 80’s cyber punk which was heavily influenced by William Gibson’s Neuromancer, was finally upon us.  Many believe that its because we finally have the technology to mass produce a high quality virtual experience.  Before Oculus a positive virtual experience was only possible in University laboratories which provided no commercial value. But before the common consumer will ever get to walk around in their virtual Miami Beach house they will talk to their fridge.

When looking at consumer technology and see what the next big thing is don’t look at the technology itself but look at how humans interact with that technology.  Aside from even more advancements in the technology that need to be made in virtual reality, there are even more advancements humans have to make when communicating with new forms of tech.

The first of which will be the current phase of Internet of Things (IOT).  Companies like Nest have provide “Smart” thermostats and other smart products that take on a life of their own and do not need a central controller.  They act on their own and more importantly learn preferences and for the people that paid for them.  Your next fridge can tell the difference in weight of your milk jug, order new milk (Skim because you just gained 4 lbs the last time you went on the scale), and have it delivered from Google Shopping express before you even get home! I define the Internet of Things as: Giving life to things in the real world that normally don’t have life. Humans will have to get used to this concept before they are truly able to experience the next step in communicating with technology, which will be not having to clean up your toys.

Games like Call of Duty have come so far in simulating war, from the textures of the landscapes, the sounds and specifics of the guns, and even the way enemy soldiers die. But something subtle has never left the FPS genre, the Heads Up Display.  Ammunition, health bar, radar, all right in front of you while you traverse the Favelas.  This was perceived to be a way take realism away but now we are converging to a point in time where the real world has caught up to games thanks to Augmented Reality (AR).   Google Glass when hooked up to equipment in the battlefield can provide all this data to the soldier in their field of view.  But there is a reason why consumer facing Google Glass was shut down just yesterday (1/21/2015).  People aren’t ready to have real time data in front of their face yet.  But yesterday also lead to one of the most important announcements in AR and that is the Microsoft HoloLens.  The HoloLens is more daunting and larger than glass (a full headset vs a square added onto glasses).  But what the HoloLens does is create the entire real world into your playground where you can add a virtual experience.  Yesterday the announcement had many cool features but the most compelling to me was the ability to play Minecraft as if it were a gigantic lego set on your floor.  This demonstrated how I define AR which is to bring new life to the real world.  Microsoft brought new life to the existing world to give us a sense of a new world by keeping us oriented by having it exist in an area we are comfortable with.  This level still will take some time to humans to fully dive into but it pales in comparison to the level of immersion and the level of excitement that comes with VR.

IOT, AR, and VR are all exciting new frontiers for humans and specifically consumers to dive into.  Facebook didn’t by  Oculus to have a Rift, Crescent Bay, or whatever their final product will be to have it only in classrooms. They bout Oculus with the idea that every person will have a personal headset they can plug into and be able to experience a new world.  But before consumers are ready to have their own alternate realities they first have to accept that the vacuum is a better babysitter, and they will never step on another loose LEGO again.

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