Tech Giants Race To Create An Alternate Reality

Submitted by Michael Scott for SafeHaven

Virtual reality, augmented reality, immersive reality, mixed reality and finally merged reality … Welcome to the world of digital layering, awash with cutting-edge technologies that are mostly powered by rather dorky and clunky hardware, but fascinating nonetheless.

The digital reality industry is exploding, and tech titans are in an arms race to cut themselves a niche in the sector, earn bragging rights for the snazziest devices that will drive future billion-dollar valuations.

VR and AR have been creating the most buzz, though the average user might be hard-put to tell one from the other. That's hardly surprising when the media, and sometimes the innovators themselves, tend to use the two terms interchangeably. But when it comes to alternate realities, either one will emerge to redefine existence, or the two leaders will merge to become an even bigger reality.

Similar Digital Realities, Different Technologies

VR and AR are two sides of the same coin though they have significantly different capabilities.

VR is the grandfather of our alternate reality, with the first VR devices dating all the way back to the era of the head-mounted Telesphere Mask.

Much earlier attempts at VR had been made in the form of 360-degree murals. And modern examples of VR devices include Oculus VR, Samsung GearVR and HTC Vive.

AR has been slower off the blocks, mainly because the underlying technology requires more fine-tuning for things like motion controllers, depth sensors and cameras for a truly awesome user experience. Apple’s brand new ARKit, Microsoft's HoloLens, Snap glasses, Google Cardboard and Magic Leap's soon-to-come AR glasses all belong to the AR camp.

VR is a totally immersive experience that completely shuts out the outside world by creating a virtual environment for the user to inhabit. VR experiences can be totally cool but lack a real-world feeling because they involve little or no sensory input from the user or their environment.

AR, on the other hand, works by mapping the real world and then laying virtual objects on top of it. The real world becomes the backdrop of the AR environment that the user is able to control. AR, unlike VR, is like a half-complete painting that allows you to add your own details.

Another significant difference is the hardware. VR mostly relies on those unmissable head-mounted-displays (HMD), while AR devices mostly use smartphone cameras as their portal.

Inflection point for AR

VR has found a ready market in the entertainment industry, though CAVE automatic virtual environments might be fun for big labs and academia where they can be used to display virtual content in room-sized screens.

AR, on the other hand, has more potential for long-term commercial applications.

A case in point is this AR app by IKEA that allows customers to ''virtually'' move furniture around and see how it's going to look in their sitting rooms.

Similarly, Snapchat has come up with a comparable albeit more goofy idea of a dancing hotdog that can be placed into different camera views. It’s only a matter of time before other marketing teams jump into the AR bandwagon.

Quite naturally, smartphone companies like Apple have been hyping up AR's potential over VR. However, they can now back up their claims using this SuperData Report that says consumer AR is set to pull ahead of VR somewhere around 2021, mainly driven by mobile AR and games like Pokémon Go.

Gartner has placed AR only behind VR in its 2017 Hype Cycle chart of emerging technologies. Remarkably, the two are ranked as the most advanced emerging technologies, implying that an investment in either sector might pay off in the long-run.


rtb61 Dindu Nuffins Wed, 04/04/2018 - 03:52 Permalink

It's a game zone why freak out.

VR is essential screwed for anyone who gets slightly seasick. Whilst you head will feel to a limited degree, the appropriate inertial loads and balance sensation, unless you were a powered suspended exoskeleton, you body will not and you body will hugely disagree, with what you brain is seeing and feeling, hence the disorientation and nausea.

For VR to function to any regard like what they claim, you have to fit yourself out with an exoskeleton, suspended of the ground and powered to reflect counter forces to your action, really quite expensive, car expensive, with it's cost partially subsidised by remote control robots.

Sure glasses to turn you mobile phone into a 125" big screen, lightweight, compact, with ground by an optometrist lenses to fit you and only you, with a slip on fabric shroud to block light or no shroud so you can see around the lenses and you can fit cameras and feed that image into the glasses, the delay would be weird though (lenses, to sensors, to phone, to display, quite the delay).

The majority of people losing themselves in VR is a fantasy and when it comes to PvP (player vs player or more accurate purse vs purse or even more accurately purse vs free player targets) is laughable, by far the majority baulk at PvP unless it is cartoon mode or casual play, long term play, they will just refuse to play with psychopaths and narcissists who get off playing PvP buying legal cheats and easily wiping out free to players, for the psychopaths and narcissists cheating is winning.

Any kind of large scale gaming environment will be coop play, it is the way the majority will go and that will have a real social media element, a fun, easy going social environment (especially because psychopaths and narcissists will hate it, they need to feed the ego's by believing they are making other people miserable).

Do you know how to win against others in say a racing game, either buy legal cheats or race the same track over and over and over again, till you memorise it and the correct corner entry and exit speeds and the best overtaking spots, run that track well over a hundred times, even thousands of times, most people just refuse to be involved in that, I do, way to boring. That is the essential problem with PvP, either buy legal cheats to win or enjoy mindless repetition to develop the required skills plus memory of the required moves.

In reply to by Dindu Nuffins

PT Debugas Wed, 04/04/2018 - 05:31 Permalink

Re "Who cares about VR when there is no money to buy food"? :

Fool!  The correct question is who cares about food when there is VR?


I first started dabbling with 3D stuff about 30 years ago - my tech wasn't good enough then.  Now the tech should easily be good enough but I'm way out of date, can't keep up and all sorts of unnecessary crap keeps changing.  VB keeps changing - Yes, VB, I tried using VC but it does get quite tedious and at my level any speed problems are irrelevant - so the old programs do not work on new machines, DirectX keeps changing and losing old features.  I can't figure out how to get my old programs to work on new machines, I've got perfectly good LCD glasses that I have never used because I never figured out how to make them work on the old machine, let alone the new machines so any 3D stuff I've done has always been done using the Red/Blue glasses (sometimes I do computer-generated, sometimes I use twin digital cameras).  I won't be giving up my day job any time soon.

How good are the accelerometers these days?  (I've never used them myself, but using other people's stuff, they were very clunky back in the day.)  I assume that frame rates should be decent now too?


In reply to by Debugas

MusicIsYou Wed, 04/04/2018 - 02:53 Permalink

We've already got alternate realities around us, some people realize the U.S is getting infiltrated by terrorists, while most everybody else think it's sunshine and lollipops.

ted41776 Wed, 04/04/2018 - 02:57 Permalink

lulz you had me at smart phone, smart watch, ai, and self driving cars.... just stick to ripping off VCs, streaming porn, and exchanging dick pics, that's all you're really good at

Sudden Debt Wed, 04/04/2018 - 03:20 Permalink

AR is fucking expensive and it's only fun for the first minute. 

It looks cool at first yes. But everything needs to be created in 3D first, the interactivity isn't that great. It's great for museums and kid toys to the age of 12.


VR lacks standard plugins on the camera's, every producer only allows their camera's on their software resulting in the fact that most VR you create is only for you and not for sharing.



PT Sudden Debt Wed, 04/04/2018 - 05:43 Permalink

" ... every producer only allows their camera's on their software resulting in the fact that most VR you create ..." :  And there's the problem right there.

Can't write your own software whether high level or at the machine code.
Can't access your own hardware at the machine code level.

High level languages changing too often and discarding old features or changing them beyond recognition.  By the time you get up to date you are out of date.  Simplest information too hard to find.  When's the last time a net-search netted REAL information?  (Yeah, I tried the Nvidia website, last time I looked it was pretty useless.  Feel free to tell me if I'm missing something here but please make sure your leads are GOOD.)

They kill the goose before it can possibly lay.

In reply to by Sudden Debt

Baron Samedi Wed, 04/04/2018 - 03:46 Permalink

I've been waiting for (at least) full-sized dynamic holography (like the holodeck) since I saw my first laser in 1962.  This kid stuff just doesn't cut it.  Maybe they have something serious in (((deepblackworld)))?

The Alternate Reality - the matrix created by gov/corp surrealism and propaganda - we've already got - no funny glasses/viewers needed.

gmak Wed, 04/04/2018 - 05:47 Permalink

Yeah. Well they might need it. Tech got slammed when Europe opened this AM. It's starting to creep back up, but /ES is weighing heavy on everything. STFR.

VAL THOR Wed, 04/04/2018 - 06:53 Permalink

WTF?  These tech clowns can't even deal with the 'real' reality and they want other versions?

Before computers, these idiots would be locked up in local insane asylums. 

Last of the Mi… Wed, 04/04/2018 - 07:42 Permalink

VR headsets, or glasses are NOT going to mix well with autonomously driven cars. Techies may want to pay attention here to the commingling of the real and virtual world. Just sayin.

Downtoolong Wed, 04/04/2018 - 08:32 Permalink

Beyond all this comes a device with the capability to stream virtuality to all five of your senses, including taste, touch, and smell in addition to sight and hearing. It will probably come in the form of a chip imbedded in your brain. Then TPTB will really have you under their control, able to present the world to you any way they wish.

But hey, maybe it’s worth it if it if one of the perks they hand out is a real-as-life simulation of you having sex with Meg Ryan in her 20’s.

Golden Showers Wed, 04/04/2018 - 08:40 Permalink

Let's talk: If I go out in public and sit on a park bench in virtual reality so - called and one of you comes up and punches me sqare in the face and knocks me the fuck out, which reality do I live in?

Hey if you want to pretend, go play in your own safe space.

Go play on youtube.

Put up your channel.

Ask people to pay for your house.

Ask people not to punch you in the face while you wear some fancy goggles.

I can imagine just fine without the goggles or implants or the student loans or the prius or the Tesla or a million subs on Youtube to validate me. Most people are stupid. Complicated shit sounds awesome! It's not. It's bullshit. What makes sense to a 6 year old is more wisdom than you have.

Reality is just boring. I want to look at shit that is fake.

Fuck the human race. We shit the bed and our worst most unproductive douchebags are our real heros now. Halo!

Whatevs. If you see some douchebag on a bench in VR goggles, punch it. This is Reality 0. Don't trust reality 1. K. Punch it. And don't tell me about virtual rights because that's faggotry.

MedicalQuack Wed, 04/04/2018 - 10:38 Permalink

Operation Perception Deception is in full swing in the US, you can do anything with software, create little virtual worlds where people exist and create little virtual values, but what matters is the real world and it always comes knocking back.  Been writing about this for years, it's a programmers' world and we just get to live and click in it.  Choose your data platforms that you use and trust wisely.…

Downtoolong Wed, 04/04/2018 - 11:05 Permalink

One could argue that TV is a version of virtual and augmented reality. After all, how many movies on the SyFi channel depict anything real? How many news channels do either these days? Both are a form of entertainment that presents some amount of fictitious content that appeals to our imaginations, blended with every-day human experiences and emotions that make it seem believable.

But, there is a substantial difference between an old TV and the new VR and AR devices, which has little to do with the content or quality of the experience being presented. Like all things internet, it’s the fact that these new devices are two-way communicators. They gather and store personal information about you while you use them. The more you engage with them, the more they know about you.

Donate Moar Wed, 04/04/2018 - 11:50 Permalink

Infinite recursion:

We live in a simulation in which we strive to create a simulation in which we will strive to create yet another simulation in which we...

So go the cycles of man, mind and fractals.

Ad Infinitum, Ad Nauseam.