Like many millions, I regularly use Power Point (presentations) or Excel (spreadsheets) or Microsoft Word (documents). You probably do too, or have. I think about this suite of products and the relationship to the evolution of virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence. There is a connection.
First though, making virtual reality and augmented reality content is real hard right now. The software, hardware and the nature of the content is rapidly iterating, not settling quickly. It’s the ubiquitous notion of trying to change the wheels on a car speeding down the Autobahn in Germany (there is barely a speed limit).
I just spent three months on a virtual reality project, and while I have produced hundreds of video for broadcast and the internet, meaning I have a lot of experience making visual stories, live action 360 video is a beast; an entirely different process. The work flow doesn’t flow like preparing for the stage or a 2D film or 2D digital video. Why? The output itself, a 360 degree moving picture is not like any of those others.
We have far more questions than answers. Are we telling stories, a narrative or creating experiences? What might a story look like when the USER can choose to look anywhere in that spherical space, and so on?
What does that have to do with Microsoft? While technologists built those utility pillars, they could then hand to the masses, and say carry on. People can and do use them for anything they choose from personal journals to professional financial modeling.
These emerging technologies actually work in the EXACT opposite way, meaning while VR and AR technology is cool, it has almost no meaning without a specific application. Consider, a surgeon having a conversation with a technologist.
Technologist: “We have some cool tech that makes 3D digital assets, how might that help you?”
Surgeon: “Medical images, say X-rays or MRIs would be great to have 3D versions in augmented reality.”
Technologist: “Great, what type of features will help you diagnose a patient’s issue?”
And so on. The technologists need direction from domain expertise whether it’s educators or doctors, real estate developers, industrial manufacturers, human resource professionals or those working in sports, media and entertainment. Materially beneficial applications, products, will only have meaning for those who are using them in the course of daily use, particularly in enterprise or professional capacities.
We live in a 3D world, it’s fantastical to believe the ability to create 3D digital products, tools and assets will not have fundamental uses across the way we live and work. Right now, the problem is we don’t know exactly what that looks like, except to say, the winners will be busy collaborating across disciplines with technologists and domain experts at the table. Let us not forget in every technological evolution someone, some company, some team comes up with a winning step. There will be winners.