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This week, the Joes talk with their favorite PHD, Dr. Ken Moser, about the latest and greatest in Virtual Reality HMDs to decide whether they are a) the worst thing humans have ever made or b) the greatest marvels of human technology ever designed. (Hint: Somewhere in between.)
Headset overview: What is Virtual Reality?
00:00 Joe Johnson: Welcome to the In Reality Podcast. Now starting, three, two, one. This week we’re sitting down with our favourite PhD, Dr. Ken Moser to talk about the latest and greatest in AR and VR hardware to decide whether they are, A, The worst thing that humans have ever made, or B, the greatest marvels of human technology ever designed. What do you think, Joe? A, B? Is there a third option?
00:21 Joe Bardi: There may be like six options, Joe.
00:22 JJ: Six options?
00:24 JB: Six.
00:24 JJ: That’s way too many.
00:25 JB: There may be more than six, yeah.
00:26 JJ: I can’t handle that.
00:26 JB: There may be eight.
00:27 JJ: Alright, well, let’s get into it.
00:37 JJ: So we’re three months into 2019, and the number of AR and VR HMDs already announced for later this year is staggering. Despite being in an industry that’s constantly battling premature reports of its demise, hardware manufacturers are continuing to produce plenty of new tech in the hopes that consumers will adopt it en masse. Currently announced in pre-order or awaiting an imminent release are the Microsoft HoloLens 2, Facebook’s Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest, HTC’s Vive Pro Eye, Cosmos and Focus Plus and HP’s Reverb VR. These are in addition to the Google Daydream View and Lenovo Mirage Solo that runs on Google’s Daydream platform, which are both released late last year. Of note, one company not releasing anything new this year is Sony, whose PS VR HMD has now sold over four million units, making it the best-selling VR solution available today. Sony has enjoyed this success despite, or perhaps because of the fact that PS VR is a limited VR solution focused exclusively on gaming. So what do you got here, Joe?
01:34 JB: Ken, you’re the real expert here on VR and AR. And so my question for you is twofold. One, do you see anything among the current crop of new or about to be new headsets that really catches your eye? And two, since I’m almost positive you’re gonna say no, are any of them at least good enough to take on PS VR and grab a sizable market share?
01:54 Dr. Ken Moser: Let me answer the first fold of that question first.
01:57 JB: Please.
01:58 JJ: Okay.
02:00 DM: I think the most beneficial items are the wireless headsets.
02:04 JB: So that’s like the Focus and the Cosmos and the Quest.
02:08 JJ: Is the Daydream Wireless?
02:09 JB: Yes.
02:09 DM: I don’t mean the wireless headsets that are standalone.
02:14 JB: Okay.
02:14 DM: The Oculus Quest is a built-in… So the Oculus Quest says it is Oculus’s first all-in-one gaming system built for virtual reality. So it does not require a PC to drive it. It runs standalone and it includes controllers, it includes controllers of course.
02:35 JB: They all seem to… Controllers are becoming just de rigueur. It seems like all of the new headsets are being announced with controllers.
02:42 JJ: Well, how else would you really interact with anything?
02:44 DM: You mentioned the HoloLens 2.
02:46 JJ: We did.
02:46 JB: I did. I did, and I wanna ask you, I have a whole bunch of other questions about the HoloLens 2, but…
02:50 DM: I mostly brought that up because Joe J had mentioned that, what else could you use to interact with things, whereas the HoloLens 2 seems to be going the route of actual hand gesture interaction…
03:00 JB: Interesting.
03:01 JJ: Okay.
03:01 DM: In order to do things.
03:02 JJ: So we’re doing palm gestures with the HoloLens, I dig it.
03:06 DM: Yes. So the Oculus Quest is a standalone. You had mentioned an HTC headset. What was the HTC… Is there Eye, HTC Eye?
03:13 JB: So there’s the…
03:15 JJ: The Pro Eye, the Cosmos and the Focus Plus.
03:18 JB: Yeah. So the Pro Eye is the update of the Vive Pro that does eye tracking and there is a wireless module for that. The Vive Cosmos is a tethered headset, but they’ve been kind of vague about what tethering actually means and there’s a general belief is that it will tether to a cellphone and not necessarily a computer. And then the Vive Focus Plus is completely standalone. It’s actually… The Focus already exists, the Plus is just sort of an upgrade.
03:45 DM: That’s right.
03:45 JB: And they range in price anywhere from $5.99… Both the Pro Eye and the Focus Plus are $7.99, and the Cosmos, nobody knows yet.
03:56 DM: Right. And the HP offering is tethered.
04:00 JJ: The Reverb VR…
04:01 DM: And then… Yeah, the Reverb, yes. And there was one additional one that I’m actually not familiar with, the one right before you had mentioned the HP.
04:07 JJ: You might mean the one after, which is the Lenovo Mirage Solo.
04:10 DM: The Lenovo, yes, I’ve not heard of that particular one, the Lenovo Mirage Solo.
04:16 JJ: Yes, that one…
04:17 DM: Judging by the word “solo”, I presume it’s standalone.
04:19 JJ: Yeah, it’s running on Google’s Daydream stuff, so likely it mimics anything that Google’s doing.
04:23 JB: Google did a presentation last August, I’m gonna say, I don’t remember exactly…
04:28 JJ: It doesn’t matter if you’re right or wrong, it’s radio.
04:29 JB: Middle to the second half of last year where they announced the Daydream platform, the Daydream View which was their standalone headset, and that the idea that this would be a platform. And then Lenovo was the first partner, I believe it was announced at the time, that they had made a standalone headset called the Mirage. So, basically also on Google’s platform, looks very much like other things on Google’s platform.
04:54 JJ: I don’t wanna be that guy. We can talk about specs and capabilities all we want. What I really wanna do when I have Ken on the phone is to cut through a bunch of bullshit and get his sense of like, are they useful? What is the point?
05:05 DM: Yes. So it says the Mirage uses Google’s powerful WorldSense technology to lean, dodge, duck, move, to basically dip… [chuckle] To basically dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge to avoid obstacles…
05:19 JB: And dodge, that’s right. Yeah.
05:20 DM: And move naturally through an ever-growing library of virtual worlds.
05:24 JJ: Great.
05:25 DM: So it’s obviously using ARCore or whatever it is to track the headsets is what it sounds like to me.
05:28 JJ: Yeah.
05:29 DM: So the standalone… I’m not a big standalone guy.
05:32 JJ: Okay, and why is that, Ken?
05:36 DM: Only because the mobile hardware isn’t going… Especially in VR where you have to render theoretically for both eyes while you’re doing VR things…
05:45 JJ: Yeah, unless you don’t want it to be 3D, yeah. [chuckle]
05:48 DM: Exactly, you don’t want it to be 3D. And obviously you can use first person view, and of course, you use the controllers. But your of course, you’re just limited by the device itself, meaning that unless it’s like the Gear VR where you can put your own phone into it, you’re completely at the mercy of however long that hardware is going to be in fashion.
06:14 JJ: Oh, that’s interesting.
06:17 DM: And so, maybe next year you’re buying the Mirage Solo 2, or the Mirage Duo, or whatever they call the version two of that.
06:23 JB: Oh, are we talking about a console war, like Sony versus X-Box, but then they’re doing it with VR headsets?
06:29 DM: Yes. That is basically what the stand-alone built-in hardwares are, they’re literally just gaming… There’s crappier gaming consoles at basically the price of almost a gaming console.
06:40 JB: Yeah, that you wear on your face.
06:41 JJ: I’m making an aghast face right now. I am disgusted at the thought of spending that much money on a stand-alone VR headset right now.
06:49 JB: And so, but to actually put it in the real world, what you’re describing, Ken, is almost exactly what’s gonna happen with the Oculus Go, which is… The Quest is really…
06:58 DM: Yes, the answer to that.
07:00 JB: A snazzier version of that Go…
07:01 DM: That’s right.
07:01 JB: That’s a little more expensive, it’s 399 verse 299 or something like that. But you know how prices are, and they’ll be the same price or cheaper in two minutes. And it really is, if you bought a Go, you have last year’s version. And you really need the Quest and next year you’ll need the Galaxy Quest, or whatever comes next.
07:17 JJ: Okay. So we’re talking about a series of Nintendo Virtual boys right now.
07:21 JB: Ken, you really… I hadn’t even thought about this before now, so you got my brain going. But yeah, the cellphonization of VR hardware, where every year there’s a keynote, and look our… The new one, you need the new one.
07:33 DM: Yeah, we can do this. Exactly.
07:34 JJ: Is that a sign that it’s arrived, or a sign that it’s a mess?
07:38 JB: That to me feels like flailing, to some extent, because the…
07:40 JJ: Yeah?
07:41 DM: Yes, I agree.
07:42 JB: Smartphone, you can… And even now the problem with smartphones is you can’t make the case that you need a new one every year, and that’s why Apple and Samsung are having trouble growing their markets and all that stuff. But already the public is like, “No, we’re good. We can wait a couple years on these,” and the industry thinks you’re supposed to replace it every year. So it seems like a natural… That they would think this way. “Oh, well, we’ll come up with a new one every year, and then… But we’ll upgrade for $300 a year.”
08:06 JJ: Sure.
08:06 JB: But this feels more like a thing you would keep for four years or something.
08:09 JJ: Ken, as always, you’re prescient, [chuckle] and you’re seeing things that I don’t see. Because I don’t actually pay a ton of attention to the stand-alone headsets.
08:17 DM: I would… Yes. Yes.
08:19 JJ: Mainly for the same reason that you talked about, there’s no way that a piece of mobile hardware crammed into a headset is going to provide the kind of experience that I think VR enthusiasts are looking for, and certainly not the thing that…
08:29 DM: Exactly.
08:29 JJ: Yeah, and certainly not the thing that enterprise users are looking for.
08:34 DM: You’re for sure true on the enterprise front, and yeah, exactly. Unless you’re just wanting something for your child to use in the car on a road trip, or you just… You have maybe a young child perhaps, and you don’t wanna drop a lot of dough getting them a VR rig, maybe. And maybe it’s fine, again, presuming if you’re a parent doing that, you probably have no idea how to even use it anyway to begin with, or help your child use it. [chuckle] Or figure out what the content is for it, or if there’s even any content for it, or the content is even appropriate for the child. But I also like that they’re out there as a developer, the more stand-alone headsets there are, the harder theoretically it will be for developers to ensure that their content will be able to play equally on each set.
09:16 JJ: Yeah, that makes sense, yeah.
09:19 JB: Let me throw this out there.
09:19 DM: Go ahead, Drew. Please [09:21] ____.
09:21 JB: Because going back to something that we said in the intro about how the PS VR sold 4 million and it’s the best selling. The PS VR is also under-powered, general speaking, compared to both the Rift and the Vive.
09:32 JJ: Yes, but it has a consistent development environment, and a built-in audience who’s already in gaming.
09:36 JB: 100%. And they already own… Right.
09:38 JJ: Yeah, they already own that stuff.
09:39 JB: They already own the platform, and so they don’t have to… You don’t have to get a gaming PC or whatever, that is the built-in advantage. My point was gonna be more, though, that the idea that these stand-alone headsets are really designed to compete with the PS VR, and are not designed to compete with Rift or the Vive.
09:50 JJ: Yeah, I’ll be… I’m gonna be honest, good luck with that, boys.
09:53 JB: Well… [chuckle]
09:53 DM: Yeah, I say the same thing.
09:55 JB: You don’t think we should be splitting up a tiny market into lots of pieces?
09:58 JJ: No, and additionally, I don’t think that… So who’s competing here? It’s Facebook and HTC competing with Sony’s console gaming market?
10:07 JB: That’s the top end.
10:07 JJ: That seems desperate to me, frankly.
10:12 DM: The only benefit… So I think HTC has a leg up only because of Steam when you… Through valve.
10:17 JJ: Yeah, that’s a good partnership.
10:18 DM: For whatever existing content they may have. But again, there is the… What would the content look like compared to people running on PC versus the people using stand-alone headsets? Which…
10:28 JJ: Well, since we’ve all been in a headset, it’s not even close. Yeah.
10:32 DM: Exactly.
10:32 JB: Is Steam serving as sort of… How do I wanna phrase this? It’s the platform where… That’s what’s making… It’s really a partnership between HTC and Steam that makes the whole thing work.
10:47 JJ: Yes. Let me side-step a little bit and go back to a previous question. Do you see anything good coming up on the horizon, Ken? Is there anything that you’re actually excited about?
10:56 DM: Ugh. Well… [laughter]
10:58 JJ: Are you having a bad day Ken?
11:01 DM: I mean not in particular. [laughter] My day so far has been mediocre at best, which is a good day, honestly.
11:08 JJ: Oh, real medium? Yeah, real medium.
11:09 DM: Exactly.
11:10 JB: Not terrible.
11:11 JJ: I love medium days. [chuckle]
11:12 DM: It’s not terrible, exactly. Now, I presume you are referring to specifically to VR and AR. Is there anything…
11:19 JJ: Generally, yes, yeah.
11:21 JB: We did lump in the HoloLens 2, which is obviously mixed reality or AR, whichever [11:24] ____.
11:24 DM: Oh yeah, well… Let’s talk about the tangent of that, the XR.
11:25 JB: Yeah, we will not go there.
11:28 DM: The XR nomenclature.
11:29 JB: Ken, I’ll link your story [chuckle] explaining what mixed reality is in the show notes.
11:36 DM: My rage machine would be the XR nomenclature.
11:38 JB: Yes. But I wanted to include the HoloLens 2, just because…
11:41 DM: I know.
11:42 JB: It felt like… Especially if you’re talking about enterprise uses, like Microsoft is right out front, they have military contracts, they are attempting to… To the point that the HoloLens is not even positioned as a consumer device, it’s only enterprise uses. So it felt like it’s of a piece with these other devices, even though it’s AR or mixed reality and not VR. That was why I included it. I just wanted a little show explanation.
12:02 DM: Makes sense, yes. Makes perfect sense.
12:06 JJ: Sure, whatever. [laughter]
12:07 DM: So, I will say there are a few good things, there are few good things. So one good thing is that most of these headsets are offering the six degree of freedom tracking of the head. So there’s no longer just rotation or having to set up your own cameras like the old Oculus used to have to do. Now at least you don’t have to have the base stations, you can just walk around freely.
12:30 JB: That’s good.
12:30 DM: For the most part, you still have to be aware of obstacles. [chuckle] They’ll run into walls and things obviously. But for the most part, you can walk around freely, presuming the physical world will let you walk there in the virtual world.
12:39 JJ: Gotcha. Which means that obviously we need to develop a system for the headset to track obstacles and then warn users.
12:45 JB: Or some kind of virtual fencing.
12:46 JJ: Yeah, sure.
12:47 DM: Yeah, yeah, the old HTC at least gave you the sense when you’re leaving the area.
12:52 JJ: Oh that’s a good idea.
12:53 DM: And so some people developed a few plug-ins where it would try to detect things as you got close to them, and just kind of blend you back into the real world mode. I don’t believe that these headsets coming out now are using depth cameras. I didn’t look specifically into all of them, I know some of them are using stereo cameras just for the regular tracking. I think it would be smart if these headsets do use depth cameras, that way…
13:18 JJ: Please tell us why.
13:19 DM: It makes it easier to track the world, of course, or use the depth camera positionally.
13:24 JB: So wait, let me…
13:25 DM: And of course… And also for the very reason you just mentioned, in that you then know for sure when the person is getting close to something they may be running into.
13:32 JB: So wait, let me ask you for clarification ’cause… So the Rift S, for example. It lists tracking as insight inside-out five cameras, but then capabilities it says supports six degrees of freedom head and controller tracking. So are you doing both?
13:44 DM: Okay. So it says five cameras… Well, see, it says five cameras.
13:47 JB: Right.
13:48 DM: It doesn’t say… Does it say specifically if those cameras are depth cameras or does is it say five cameras?
13:54 JB: You know, in their list of specs under tracking, it says insight inside-out…
13:58 DM: That’s all it says.
14:01 JB: Five cameras. So yeah, I don’t…
14:01 DM: We don’t… Not sure if they’re depth cameras.
14:03 JB: Yeah, we don’t.
14:04 DM: So they could very well just be standard cameras, and it’s just fusing all the cameras images together, which is very well possible.
14:10 JB: Got ya.
14:11 DM: I hope they are depth cameras, again, just for the ability to actually get presumably a more accurate representation of the actual 3D world. If they’re not now… And again for those price ranges, may not be. Seriously, these are 299, 399, there are probably not five depth cameras on the thing.
14:31 JB: Right. [chuckle]
14:33 DM: But in the future, actually they will eventually go to that. And then they’ll be able to do what you had alluded to, which is to protect… Provide some level of protection for people walking around blindedlessly [chuckle] in these headsets, just walk into whatever. So the tracking is for sure one good thing. Another good thing for the non-stand-alone, like the Vive Pro, and even for the regular Vive, is the wireless option, in that you have to purchase separately to connect to it, but at least there is a wireless option you can get for the Vives.
15:06 JB: How do…
15:06 DM: We do have a wireless option here, and it is quite nice. The battery that comes with it lasts a large number of hours, 6-8 hours.
15:13 JJ: Wow, that’s a lot.
15:13 JB: Yeah, that is a lot.
15:14 DM: Yeah. We, of course…
15:15 JJ: I was only expecting two.
15:18 DM: We don’t use it continuously, so I’ve only ever used… I’ve only just left it on for eight hours, I’ve never actually used it [chuckle] continuously for eight hours, obviously.
15:25 JJ: Got it. Some gamer may drag the time, yeah, yeah.
15:25 DM: But it does sit there turned on. Right, exactly. And I don’t know what all… The factors involved in how the battery may be depleted faster, but you probably shouldn’t be using VR any more than three hours at a time, obviously.
15:37 JJ: Well, what if you just need to escape reality permanently, Ken?
15:40 DM: If you want to do that then…
15:42 JJ: Is it about to get dark in here?
15:47 DM: I mean…
15:48 JJ: Got it, I know all available solutions for that, heard.
15:51 DM: I wouldn’t recommend anyone ever try to escape reality. I think you should face reality, ’cause that is what reality is.
15:58 JJ: Got it. Getting deep on a podcast today.
16:00 DM: You should meet it head on. You should just meet reality head on.
16:01 JJ: You can’t prove that, Ken.
16:05 DM: That is true.
16:08 JJ: So on the theme of that sort of answer, what else are you excited about beyond that?
16:14 DM: So I think Joe Bardi made a good point mentioning the HoloLens for enterprise. I think another good thing is that Microsoft is not marketing their HoloLens 2… As a consumer device, but it’s specifically going for business. Their little slogo on their website is related to work, or making work better, making work easier, or something around enhancing work, and not just…
16:36 JJ: So why would you… Why do you…
16:37 DM: I’m gonna play Minecraft.
16:38 JJ: Why do you think that’s a good thing?
16:41 DM: I think they’ve realized that the price point is… No one’s gonna pay that much for…
16:46 JJ: What is it, like three grand?
16:48 JB: Thirty-five hundred.
16:48 DM: No one’s gonna pay…
16:49 JJ: Whoo!
16:49 DM: It’s more. It’s more than the first one, 500 more than the original one.
16:51 JB: Yeah.
16:52 JJ: Oh, wow.
16:52 JB: Well, it’s number two, its the sequel.
16:54 DM: It’s number two, of course, yeah.
16:54 JJ: Its twice as good.
16:57 DM: I don’t know… Yeah, I don’t know what the rate of inflation is. You’d think it would at least maintain the same cost and not necessarily go up. [chuckle] But whatever, I don’t know what the 500 extra dollars provides, probably more memory and who knows what, I don’t know. Better WiFi or something.
17:08 JJ: So what is the HoloLens 2’s tangible benefit to businesses?
17:12 DM: So, uh… [chuckle]
17:14 JJ: Got him! Got him! [chuckle]
17:18 DM: For me, for me, I don’t think… It probably would depend on your business. Obviously they show their little partnerships… There’s always airplane bellowing, there’s always airplane manufacturers and complex manufacturing tasks/art tasks. In their little keynote presentation they did the whole collaborative meeting where, oh, multiple people are wearing their headset, I can see your avatar and you can see my avatar, and we’re kind of in this virtual conference room, and we can do things around…
17:46 JJ: Talking that telepresence stuff, yeah.
17:50 DM: I think that is dumb, I don’t think anyone will ever use that, and I don’t think anyone should use that. I think there’s plenty… There’s no reason to see each other’s avatars…
17:56 JJ: Ken, I don’t al…
17:57 DM: There’s plenty of…
17:58 JJ: I don’t always disagree with you…
18:00 DM: There’s plenty of software now for collaborative meetings.
18:01 JJ: I don’t always disagree with you, Ken, but in this specific instance, I think that…
18:06 DM: Please.
18:07 JJ: People will definitely use telepresence even if it’s not good, because often people will do things just because they think it’s cool.
18:17 JB: Yeah.
18:17 DM: See…
18:18 JB: Can I agree with both of you?
18:20 DM: Well, it’s… I think that is true if you’re a regular person. If you’re a business…
18:23 JJ: Wait, whoa, whoa, what am I?
18:26 DM: If you’re a business entity, and you are already behind schedule, ’cause that’s how businesses are running their projects, you’re not gonna do something because it’s cool, you’re only gonna do something because it saves you time, which saves you money. It saves you money.
18:39 JJ: I would use it in…
18:40 DM: And there’s nothing… There’s nothing telepresence-related, anyone is getting… Learning how to use these things and set these things up to have a meeting to talk about a thumbnail image, you know what I mean, for their website, that’s just dumb.
18:54 JJ: I don’t mean…
18:54 DM: If you’re only using it… If maybe everyone is looking at a 3D model, maybe. But even then, there’s plenty of web-based applications and other… You can just use on your computer to look at a 3D model. There’s nothing you can do with the AR headset, even telepresence-related, that’s giving you any benefit of anything you can already do not wearing a headset or not.
19:13 JJ: Ken, I think you may be limited by your intelligence in this case.
19:17 DM: Please, hit me.
19:18 JB: That was a backhanded compliment.
19:19 JJ: No, no, no. [laughter] No, no, no, no, no. That is not a back…
19:21 DM: Hit me with some knowledge.
19:23 JJ: That is not a backhanded compliment. I’m not saying…
19:26 DM: I always enjoy having ignorance stamped out. Stamp out ignorance.
19:31 JJ: As far as you are saying efficiency would be achieved by not using Telepresence for these purposes, I’m also here to tell you [chuckle] that the people that are in charge of things are not always efficiency-minded.
19:43 JB: That’s true.
19:43 JJ: That’s all I’m saying.
19:44 JB: That’s true.
19:45 JJ: That’s all I’m saying.
19:45 JB: I would throw out…
19:46 DM: That is true.
19:46 JB: I would throw out this real world example, which is not exactly linked to this, but I feel like perhaps has some bearing.
19:51 JJ: Let’s do it. Let’s do it.
19:52 JB: Our office uses Skype for internal communications.
19:55 JJ: Sure.
19:56 JB: Skype offers text chat, audio chat and video chat.
20:00 JJ: Yes.
20:01 JB: Would you say 90% of the chats in the office are text and not video and audio?
20:04 JJ: I would, but there are always a couple of video chats that pop up…
20:08 JB: There’re a couple.
20:09 JJ: When they are relevant.
20:10 JB: Yeah.
20:10 JJ: That’s all I’m saying. All I’m saying is the Telepresence, you just said, the Telepresence may be relevant in certain cases, and that’s fine, it’ll be part of a larger offering like your MX Telepresence maybe just part of Skype, HoloLens 2. That’s all I’m saying, that’s all I’m saying.
20:26 DM: Yes.
20:26 JB: Hey Ken. As far as the HoloLens 2 goes, the selling point that obviously is being pushed is an increased field of view, which was the biggest knock on the original HoloLens. When you…
20:35 DM: Yes.
20:36 JB: When you watch the keynote and when you see what they’re planning, do you see other areas where you think it’s really gonna improve or are there things you’re disappointed about as far as the new specs?
20:48 DM: I… As you know, and I think I’ve mentioned for sure, and you guys probably have mentioned, I did do my PhD specifically in or on see-through displays on the see-through augmented reality displays.
21:00 JJ: We are aware of that, yes. That’s why we ask you these questions.
21:03 JB: We talked about that before we called you, Ken.
21:05 DM: Yes. I also… I think I’ve said for sure, at least one other time, I am not a fan of using the see-through displays really for anything other than maybe like medical purposes and maybe military purposes. Only for purposes where if the display goes black, you could be in trouble or may potentially put someone else in trouble. Otherwise, I think for regular businesses…
21:33 JJ: He loves these pass-through cameras.
21:35 DM: And for sure… Exactly. For people at home, you should just be using video see-through augmented reality. If it’s video see-through, you get better resolution, your cameras look better, you can do a lot more things, you can have different… You can actually apply shadows and things where you can use the cover for…
21:48 JJ: Hang on, my man. Joe Bardi’s making a face.
21:51 JB: So I’m making a face because what you’re saying makes perfect sense to me, and there are zero hardware solutions…
21:57 JJ: There are zero pieces of hardware…
21:58 JB: That use what you are describing right now.
22:00 JJ: There are zero pieces of hardware that do what he is describing, and all three of us have talked about this.
22:04 DM: Which boggles my mind. That completely boggles my mind. All these…
22:08 JJ: All three of us.
22:09 DM: Standalone headsets is like, it’s the easiest thing to do is turn the cameras on and let you have binocular vision through the cameras on the headset. I realize this may not line up with your exact field of vision, but I think most people would easily be able to adjust to that. I mean the IPD is not gonna be that variant or you’re gonna be that disorientated by doing it.
22:30 JJ: It feels like you’d get a better experience.
22:32 DM: The optical… Exactly. You will get for sure a much better experience. You can use a much higher resolution display because you’re using actual LCD display, you know what I mean, instead of…
22:43 JJ: Right.
22:44 DM: [22:44] ____ these are using LCD displays as well as the transparent one but they have [22:47] ____ reflecting off your eyes. But it’s just crisper, theoretically more crisp depending on the optics for magnification.
22:54 JB: It would be the crispest…
22:56 DM: Exactly. You don’t have to worry about the transparent fade-through. Usually, the transparent displays are extra bright so that things look opaque, so you can’t see through them, which makes things extra bright. If you’re using video see-through, things can look more natural, they can actually blend in with the world. Things can be almost indistinguishable from the video feed compared to AR. Where in AR, I have yet to see an AR headset where they could render something that you couldn’t know, “Okay, that’s a fake object.” Even if you were like completely stationary and the tracking wasn’t giving it away, it’s just a fact that you have to make things extra bright. Usually, ’cause with the HoloLens, it’s standalone so the graphics probably aren’t that great anyway, and [23:40] ____ in particular, they’re not going for extra realism, they’re just going for whatever the kind of cartoony and AR kind of feel.
23:48 DM: But you can do so much more with cameras. You can do zoom in, you can do zoom out, lots of image effects you can apply with cameras. You can’t do any video see-through AR that people would actually like. All these kids, they’re into these Snapchats and they’re into these filters and they’re into these Animoji things that are all video-based. You can do those things in optical see-through but you can’t modify the real world. You can only modify the things that are being displayed. I think video see-through AR would catch on and make so much more money if these companies would just do video see-through AR, the people can do image effects, and AR is so much more easy than these see-through displays. They’re cheaper to make. So cheap, so cheap.
24:29 JB: I feel Ken has a prototype of the Moser View 3D in his garage right now.
24:34 JJ: Yeah, Ken, so…
24:35 DM: I mean it’s not difficult to make a video see-through AR. You just gotta put together… [laughter] I could literally make one, 50 bucks, and you’d have yourself a video see-through AR display.
24:45 JB: Would it be made of cardboard or…
24:48 JJ: Ken, should I write my congressman or something? [laughter] Who do I talk to to get your… Are we crowdfunding your new headset? Is that’s what’s happening?
24:56 JB: No, please. I feel like from that answer on a five-year time horizon, you could either be founding the church of the pass-through camera…
25:02 JJ: Nice.
25:02 JB: Or living in the woods with no human contact.
25:04 JJ: Yeah, which one is it gonna be, Ken?
25:05 JB: Which one is it gonna be, Ken?
25:07 DM: I think it is inevitability that these headsets… I mean I’m looking at the page for the Mirage Solo with Daydream.
25:14 JB: Okay.
25:14 DM: And there’s clearly two cameras right here on the front of this thing. I’m presuming they are accessible through the SDK or API, I can only hope.
25:22 JJ: You would think.
25:24 DM: If they are not, then it is a stupid device no one should buy it.
25:29 JB: That is an excellent conclusion.
25:30 DM: If they are accessible through the API, then I hope developers out there will actually do something AR-related with the device that’s good. It wont me be meaningful, it will be something dumb like [25:41] ____ or something stupid like that, but at least will be video see-through AR so that consumers and these YouTubers or whoever these influencers, I hear this word now, people are some kind of influencers of some kind, will get on the video see-through train and not think that AR is just purely optical see-through for the headsets, because people are already using AR on their iPads. They’re using AR on their iPads, they’re using AR on the ARCore, Android phones. So they know that AR exists with camera feed. They know that it’s video with camera feed. Just put it on your head, people will love it, it’ll be cheaper. You know it’s gonna be good. Stop wasting money on the optical see-through displays.
26:21 JB: Ken, I’m sold, I’m sold. Where can I buy one of these magical devices? We need your Kickstarter. [chuckle] You have to get…
26:30 DM: I…
26:30 JB: Wait, so let me flip it though. So, ’cause…
26:33 DM: Yes please.
26:34 JB: Let me ask this, are there…
26:36 DM: Do it.
26:36 JB: For the rest of 2019, is there anything on horizon that you are excited about, be it software or hardware, whatever, in the VR/AR space where you’re like “That’s gonna be cool, I’m looking forward to that”?
26:51 JB: Did you just die?
26:52 DM: Not at all, no.
26:53 JB: Okay.
26:54 DM: I’m here.
26:55 JB: I thought I killed you with that question.
26:57 DM: I’m here. I was just taking a sip of water, pondering the future…
27:06 JJ: It’s okay.
27:07 DM: For this year.
27:08 JJ: Just so you know Ken, it’s totally okay to say “No, there’s nothing I’m excited about for 2019.”
27:12 DM: I’m not gonna say there’s nothing I’m excited about. I’m always interested… I’m not easily excited.
27:19 JB: We’ve noticed, other than…
27:21 DM: I’m easily thrown into rages, [chuckle] exactly. I’m easily thrown into rages and rants, but I don’t consider that excitable in a pleasurable way. Most of the time if they say, “Are you excited about something?” it means you’re looking forward to something, right?
27:36 JB: Yes.
27:37 DM: So I’m not gonna say I’m necessarily looking forward to something…
27:41 DM: But I am interested in seeing what Apple, and especially seeing what’s Google going to do with their respective AR libraries this year.
27:54 JB: You would think, are we still at 1.5 on ARKit, and I don’t know what ARCore is at.
27:58 DM: ARCore. So ARKit is currently 2.
28:02 JB: It’s 2.
28:03 DM: And ARCore is like 1 point… Is it one point-something? I wanna say 1.7, but it may not be that high yet. It may not be high yet.
28:10 JB: So your expectation would be an ARKit 3 in June and then shortly thereafter, ARCore 2.
28:16 DM: Exactly. I would hope Apple has released decimal numbers of ARKit but they did indeed do an ARKit 1.5 before doing a 2 for the full OS version. There’s a new OS version coming up soon.
28:29 JB: I think they announce it at the WWDC in June, and then it comes out, and then when the phone comes out with whatever the next iOS is, then the full… It jumps the… The version number changes.
28:40 DM: Exactly. I think they did very good in their last 2.0 release with the savable spaces, allowing people to do the more collaborative, multiplayer games or collaborative AR that you can share your coordinates system basically. So everyone can be aligned to the same coordinates system, so they’re seeing the objects in the same place.
28:56 JB: Oh that’s great.
29:00 DM: I think they should have been included at the release of ARKit. Otherwise, [29:03] ____ when they first came out, it was basically worthless, no one really knew how to use it, no one knew [29:06] ____…
29:07 JB: But then what would they add in version 2? You gotta hold back features, Ken, this is how this works.
29:11 DM: Excellent, excellent.
29:12 JB: Do you know…
29:14 DM: That is true.
29:14 JB: Speaking of holding back features, have you heard any whiff of what’s gonna be in the next versions of these two SDKs?
29:21 DM: So I have no inclination of what they may be releasing. My fear with Google is, it seems to be the case that Google was fairly quiet with their ARCore release, and Apple announced their ARKit for 2017, and then Google kind of just put out their ARCore, “Oh hey, here’s a website.” We also have that similarly on our Android. It only works on like three phones, we’re in developer mode or whatever when it first came out.
29:47 JB: Right.
29:47 DM: But they didn’t do like a broad giant announcement. They didn’t do all the fanfare that Apple was talking about and they kind of maintained that same pace. They have a website where they list compatible phones, compatible OS versions, and during our QA processes, we have several clients on Android AR now, and doing our QA process, we routinely run into devices that give us the message, “This phone supports ARCore,” and then when we go to install ARCore, Google Play Store it says “ARCore is not compatible with this device.”
30:19 JJ: Yeah, so you’re hoping for wider compatibility in ARCore?
30:22 DM: Not at all. I’m just hoping that they hire someone to just manage their ARCore better so that it’s not awful. Someone just manages it to show that they’re still interested in it. Right now my feeling is, they’re releasing it to stay on-par with Google. There is no killer AR app. There’s no AR app out there currently where people have to use it. There’s no Google Maps for AR that’s like an…
30:46 JJ: Right.
30:47 DM: In any AR app where, “I’m gonna use this everyday for the rest of my life. It’s a life-changing thing.” It’s just showing stuff up in the scene Animojis or whatever nonsense people can do, but there’s no life-changing app. And I think Google makes too much money on other things, and I think it’s more or less, they’ve shown they can do it, there it is, they’re using it for their headsets now which is good, they’re using it for the inside-out tracking, I guess.
31:10 JJ: Okay, gotcha.
31:11 DM: But otherwise, I don’t feel that they are innovating on the ARCore front.
31:17 JJ: Okay, so in summation, you are expecting more iterative progress on both ARKit, ARCore and headsets in general in 2019, Ken. Is that right?
31:26 DM: I’m expecting iterative progress on ARKit. I think ARCore will do their best to keep up. I think headsets, standalone headsets will be same old, same old, no one’s jumping out of the windows for standalone headsets. I think the wireless pro headsets are a step up, but unfortunately, it’s more content-driven. I think the content has more or less become stagnant or just VR in general.
31:47 JJ: Alright, Ken, thanks so much for sitting down with us today. It was a real pleasure.
31:51 JB: I love these calls, yeah, I love it.
31:51 DM: Thank you, Joe and Joe.
31:52 JJ: Alright, everybody, have a good one…
31:53 DM: If you just want to shoot the breeze, you know my number.
31:56 JJ: Yeah, absolutely.
31:57 JB: We’ll call again.
31:58 JJ: Thanks for checking in everybody and we’ll see you next, I don’t know, month. Eh, something like that.
32:02 JB: Something like that.
32:03 JJ: Alright, bye guys.
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