In my very first post, I talked about Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and their eventual merge.
A couple weeks ago, I learned that “eventually” was coming sooner than I originally thought. Google has announced that they will be supporting “See-Through Mode” on their standalone HMDs, allowing you to wear a headset, be aware of your environment, and overlay virtual objects within that environment. You can read about it here: https://developers.googleblog.com/2018/09/new-experimental-features-for-daydream.html
Why is this exciting? There are a few components that bring this together, but none of those are new (in fact, all of them have been around on other devices for a long while). The three components are:
- Head-mounted displays – definitely not new, it has been a concept since Sutherland’s HMD (which I recently learned was not called the Sword of Damocles — the device they named the Sword of Damocles was the large metal arm that supported the HMD). Untethered headsets are much newer, especially consumer-level ones, and these interest me much more than tethered systems. Still, these have been around for a few years now.
- Inside-out tracking – depends on who you ask in terms of how “new” it is, but inside-out tracking has been available on phones and other devices for a couple of years now. ARCore is one example of a library that allows this for Android devices.
- Video-pass through in VR – Not many devices have allowed this, but the Vive Pro has had this for a little bit now.
So again, why is this exciting if all of these pieces have existed? Well, that is what’s interesting to me! The fact that they haven’t been put together (up until now) means that people have focused on the standard, isolated paradigm for VR. It is only now that all three have been combined into an easily available device that we can change the conversation, and really begin to experiment in our new age of Reality.
And I am ready to experiment.
Banner image from: https://vr.google.com/daydream/standalonevr/