Tuesday, August 5, 2014

In Your Face Technology

The consumer world is finally getting a taste of the technological design goals of my youth and with it gets two steps closer to living in a William Gibson novel.
I am referring, of course, to both Google Glass and the Occulus Rift - two devices meant to get up close & personal with your eyeballs.

Google Glass seems to be aimed at the augmented reality crowd - with the emphasis on their Explorer marketing being on how much it can help you go places & do things.

The Occulus Rift contrasts this by providing a fully-immersive virtual reality display that replaces your view of the world with anything of which you would rather be living inside.

There is a huge price difference for these items & that in many ways reflects their immediate utility & their customer demographic.

By this I mean that despite the immense potential of the Occulus Rift, it is easier to immediately put Google Glass to work as a tool to get things done.  Does that justify a price tag of almost five times more that the Occulus Rift?  I have a hard time swallowing that.

It seems to me more like that price point is intended to make Google Glass a status symbol, much like the first iPhone release.  Unfortunately I think that this is backfiring.  The combination of know-it-all and camera-in-your-face experience of interacting with someone whom is Glass-enabled has led to the immediate adoption of the term "glasshole", applicable to users in public.

I have to say that the term is somewhat well-earned.  By jumping onto the Google platform you almost guarantee a serious degradation of your personal privacy as well as that of everyone immediately surrounding you.  This alone is disturbing but when you combine the price-tag with the inevitability that it will most certainly be riddled with advertising - one really has to question the judgment of anyone buying into this.

Still - I reconsider it every 2 days or so.

The Occulus Rift on the other hand is still largely a toy for developers.  Being a developer - I am cool with this, but still it would be nice to know that if I buy one that I won't be shelling out for something that I will only be able to use if I custom-build my own content for it.

That being said - they have put a lot of work into minimizing latency.  I hear very good things about minimizing simulator sickness - which I think is really important since I suffer from it.  If you are not sure if you too suffer from this then sit down in a room with all of the lights off and watch the Blair Witch Project.  If you get nauseous from the lack of orientation then you might also be susceptible.

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