A Glimpse of a New Reality

 A Glimpse of a New Reality

Abstract—Perception of reality is a remarkable concept to research deeply when it is linked with new trends on technology. There were some inventions in the last century that models the current development on augmented, virtual and mixed reality. Based on research prediction the augmented reality is the next generation platform, the market will become a transformative technology, growing greatly by 2025, leading development in wide area of application.

 This report is intended to provide a review of the state of art of a new reality in the current development days and predictions of future applications that will shape the 21th century society.

Index Terms—Augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality.


Mental models of reality might differ regarding age,  perspective and even person health condition, however  according to Cambridge dictionary, the concept of reality basically might be related in how people traduce into the brain, signals made by the senses, rather than an imaginary idea which cannot be physically perceptible. At this point there is a paradigm where reality concept could sounds ambiguous because the recent revolution on graphics capabilities and immersive technologies. Accordingly, the conception of reality is founded in how people sense themselves and their environment, but if reality is attached to perception, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality can model this concept mediating the perception for users.


Scientist, researchers and futurist had been working in model new ways to perceive reality, making training, entertainment applications and devices intended to trick the brain somehow. As shown in the figure 1, the View Master was one the first invention for create a new way to see reality, created back in the year 1939, the device let users see a scene of photographs or images in a variety of customer reels. It is interesting to review the similarities with the recent head mounted Displays (HMD), with the anatomic case , couple of lenses and dynamic display scenes of the Master View .


Figure 1 View Master device

In contrast with Master view, back in the 50s, Sensorama (Figure 2) created a device which enables user interact with the content, immersing them in a wide vision , motion, sounds and more capabilities.


Figure 2 Senorama 1950

There are a vast amount of inventions which involved simulation of activities such as flight or driving simulators, for instance Aspen Interactive movie map was a project of MIT (Figure 3) which enables users to interact with the camera mounted in a car and explore the city the same concept of google street view; it had controls on display and speech interface using 80s technology.

Immersing technologies had been on development from a long time, mainly for entertainment and training purposes in the last decades; nowadays the trend is converging for mix the real world with a digital world, therefore is notorious the impact on hardware and software development in wide variety of applications in many areas.


Figure 3MIT Aspen Movie Map

Based on google trends, it is possible to review tendency for searching queries in order to visualize the importance of the technology across the last 12 months, and have an insight of the interest of visual , augmented and mixed reality over time.


Figure 4 Interest over Time by Google trends

The Figure 4 states the interest based on searching queries, is perceptible a very low percentage of people looking information for mixed reality, probably because is quite new and it is not globally adopted, in contrast with augmented and virtual reality which has increased from time to time. It might be caused for the widespread of mobile applications and advertisement for new devices in the last decade.

Regarding hardware and new devices on the market, Google has interesting information. It seems that Oculus Rift and Google card board virtual reality wearables are more relevant rather than HoloLens and Meta2, devices designed for augmented and mixed reality .


Figure 5 Interest over Devices

Despite this trends, researcher have some predictions based on more accurate statistics and market analysis. For example [1] Goldman Sachs, has analyzed augmented (AR) and virtual reality (VR), and the finding are remarkable.

The company behind the research, realized the technology is  currently on development stage, but understood the potential as the next computing platform as a converging point. Due a multiple applicability for VR and AR such as education, health, entertainment, industry etc, the estimation in revenue for 2025 will be more than £55bn in hardware and software, assuming the head mounted devices increase the public acceptance  such as mobiles, game consoles and tablets.

As shown in the figure below, by 2025 game development, healthcare and engineering might lead the market share with 33%, 14% and 13% respectively.


Figure 6Market share AR/VR [1]

Compared with a two decades ago when leading companies such as Nintendo tried to introduce VR, the technology and the market has changed dramatically; nowadays new devices has more process capabilities for rendering, using a variety of sensors and quality in sound and graphics, involving users deeply for an reasonable amount of money. The international data corporation estimates by the end of 2016 more than 9 million of devices will be on the hands of the users in contrast with Gartner which describe a very less amount of devices, almost 1.5 million [2].


Figure 7Investment in VR/AR

In addition, leading companies had been doing strategic moves (Figure 7), buying or investing in technology related to VR, AR or MR. Companies like Google, Apple, Microsoft Samsung Intel, Fox and Sony revealed their interest on using this technology.


All three technologies are intended to present optical illusion that involves the brain as operative system, as shown in the figure below, a very basic holographic illusion show how easy can be trick the brain using the right tools. As follows , there are a brief description of the relevant topic of each “reality”.


Figure 8 DIY Hologram with a smartphone.

At the present time the use of the web is based on purpose for using, the methods and the content reached [3]; however, this model can be analog for analyze the perception of VR, AR and MR in general public users, investors, developers and designers.

A.     Virtual Reality:

Virtual Reality (VR) based the success for  being an immersive technology [4]; essentially the main purpose is trick the user’s brain and create a sense of presence in alternative imaginary world, the quality of illusion is determined by the quality of modeling the natural responses of human senses, as shown in the figure below, the experience can be more “real” if the users can interact more, using their own physical capabilities, for instance walk, run, hide, shoot, listen and see.


Figure 9 Sample of immersive technology Virtual reality by Cyberith

The majority of virtual reality applications are gaming, entertainment and education. However, not all virtual reality graphic application are completely designed by software. Hardware has started a very important role, beside the mount headsets, recently big names such as GoPro  are launching new models of arrays  of cameras (Figure 10) to record 360 degrees HD videos for about £4.199. In addition the BBC had started lately to record entire TV shows (Click) in 360 [5]. This sort of technology let the user immersed in places where it might be less likely to be in reality, such as The White House, flying in a helicopter, swimming with sharks or even porn. It seems this kind of applications reminds scenes movies such as Strange Days (1995) [6], trying to record all the essence of different  moments in order to sale the experience for customers willing to try to be someone else.


Figure 10 GoPro Omni

B.     Augmented Reality

The main purpose of AR, basically is to deliver any type of multimedia on top of the real world [1] [4].Frequently used for marketing and advertisement such as Zappar Company (Figure 11), developing multiple application for a variety clients. Involving branding , marketing strategies and education. The possibility for develop for mobile devices such as smartphone or tables, has a significant market possibilities.


Figure 11 Augmented Reality by Zappar

In the other hand, there are more complex applications and devices for AR in the market. Google glasses lead for a while with astonishing development by that time, for some people is a completely failure but for some others it is the blueprint for wearable technology nowadays. The possibility to record or read information on the go was an inspiration for new solutions. A good example is Skully, a smart helmet that provides vital  information for motorcycle drivers. It is the first augmented reality helmet; it has 180 degrees camera covering the blind spot plus additional features such as Bluetooth and data on the screen.


Figure 12View from the Skully helmet

Lately , the internet of things (IoT) has started to model a new paradigm in the way we manage everything, in the Figure 13, is a sample of an application using AR on top of the IoT solution, it is intended for describe information of variables inside the small scale greenhouse.


Figure 13 IoT with Augmented Reality

In general augmented reality involves data and environment in order to enhance the user reality experience.

C.     Mixed Reality


Figure 14 HoloLens by Microsoft

HoloLens might be at the moment of writing this report, the most relevant device for Mixed Reality (MR). However, other companies such as Meta Vision (Meta2) and Magic Leap have been investing a lot of resources in order to develop a MR experience.

Basically, mixed reality pretends to blend the real or analog world with digital world, in the same place at the same time. This mixture of both should be intangible; therefore the device should be clever enough for map the entire place in order create an interface, depending of the environment and shapes. For instance, recently on April the 19th [7], Magic Leap showed how a typical morning (Figure 15) should be at the office, astonishing visual effects merged with all the facilities of the office, there is no record about which kind of wearable are they using when they record de video; the company just reveal the use of “photonic lighfield chip”.


Figure 15 Mixed Reality

In the past Build Conference 2016, Microsoft showed a brief portfolio of current clients and running applications. Brands as Audi, Volvo or even NASA are working and development using HoloLens as a new interactive tool, in addition Microsoft has encouraged the use of the device, for researchers and students, using new medicine applications for better  understanding of anatomy of the human body. Meta Company  also has showed a variety of application including holographic communication as well as new way to share data between Meta2 users.

Accordingly with the new developments, is not a secret the current development stage of the technology, Microsoft hast started to sell developer units, so general public might be wait a while for trying mixed reality at home for reachable price.


Due a variety of devices, technologies and multiple applications; it might be endless to know for certain all the cutting edge development at the moment. However, it is possible to visualize the trend for researchers.

It seems the trend at the moment is based on the improvement and combination technologies. Applying new concepts and complexity in hardware and software to common user activities.


Figure 16 Mobile Fusion App

For instance Microsoft researchers have develop an application called “Mobile Fusion” (Figure 15) which let the user scan a 3D object and get the 3D model with a regular mobile phone [8], the project is based in algorithms that calculate lights and proportion; it will have remarkable for future AR devices, as well as possibility to make game characters as 3D models easily without expensive equipment.

Augmented reality has enormous applications, including education;  researchers of Disney had developed “Live texturing of Augmented Reality character from drawings [9]” , essentially researchers model a colored texture and synthetize it, inside a 3D model that can be animated on top of the drawing, the outcome has  astounding quality; the team applied several techniques such as deformable surface tracking  to map the drawing in real time.


Figure 17 Disney Research

In the other hand, virtual reality has something else to improve rather than graphics and movement. It is the sensation of reality in the sounds. The human brain is capable to process all input signals with the ear; thus, people are very accurate locating objects based on the sounds. It is because human being listen in  stereo, two input organs, that can be compared themselves in order to analyze width, frequency and more properties of the wave for different purposes. Researchers at the BBC have done an interesting project creating a model that emulate the human ability to listen, assessing a dummy head microphone with a complex algorithm of dynamic binaural sound system [10].The final effect of the recording is absolutely fascinating and realistic [11]; obviously the application for virtual reality is imperative due the immersive capabilities of the sound effects.


Figure 18Head Dummy Binaural sound demo


In order to make predictions about the technology, Goldman [1] implies the use of similar technologies in order to compare and model a new trend. The research company assumes, that nowadays would be weird to see someone using HoloLens commuting to the job and browsing with gestures alone, as people use to do in the past with first generation of mobiles, walking on streets with a brick in the hand as communication device. At the present time the technology has improved dramatically compared with two decades ago, the impact for a community using VR, AR and MR could be similar in the closer future, the market will be full of applications ready to download with positive and negative contents.

Based on predictions the sales of VR headset will increase in the coming years, therefore it is possible people prefer to be isolated at home, trying some new apps rather than normal activities.

In the other hand, there is lack of information related to secondary health effect for using the technology in a daily basis several hours a day, at the moment there are some reports [12]  of dizziness or “Cybersickness” [13]  caused for playing in virtual reality environments or watching 360 videos. For instance, the oculus documentation has some warning issues, but for obvious reasons are no disclosed on public media:

“Immediately discontinue using the headset if any of the following symptoms are experienced: seizures; loss of awareness; eye strain; eye or muscle twitching; involuntary movements; altered, blurred, or double vision or other visual abnormalities; dizziness; disorientation; impaired balance; impaired hand-eye coordination; excessive sweating; increased salivation; nausea; lightheadedness; discomfort or pain in the head or eyes; drowsiness; fatigue; or any symptoms similar to motion sickness”

At some point if the MR comes viral and inexpensive, it will be a worldwide dilemma to believe on what is real or not, for legal purposes, mental health and even safety.


Some researchers and developers point the prospect development of  VR , AR and MR usually based on sci-fi movies and futurist ideas, other are founded in facts such as market research or Moore’s Law.

From the first perspective, the technology could be leading the social networking in a couple of decades, when mobile phone disappear and the technology are fully integrated to a wearable with multiple capabilities. A good example is the scene of the movie The Matrix [14], where the actors have the first approach for a new reality. This concept might be allocated soon in a new virtual platform. The concept of having a meeting in a private virtual place, plenty of high quality sensation, tricking the perception might eliminate the reality paradigm. This kind of technology might include neuroscience and nanotechnology in order to inverse the user completely inside the system.


Figure 19 Scene from Matrix [14]

In contrast, based on figures and predictions, virtual reality and mixed reality business will have widespread adaptation with low prices and amazing features and connectivity, leading all the industries such as social, industry, education; similar as the smartphone is important for interact with 21st century community.

In addition, it seems all technology is converging at the same point. High speed communications such as 5G network, interconnectivity with all services on the cloud for business intelligence for billions of sensors of the internet of things and control with smart devices working as interface or building between the machine and the human beings.


It is vital for users, developers and investors to understand differences between virtual, augmented and mixed reality in order to speed up the evolution of the technology in the right direction.

As Diana Slattery suggested the multiplicity of reality and the close relationship between the senses due the perception capabilities [15], thus manipulate senses by different devices might be change the perception of reality.

Similar as the internet of things, the technology is on development stage, therefore many companies are trying to lead the market.


VIII.     References

[1]C. W. ,. M. M. S. T. Bellini Heather, “Visrtual & Augmented Reality: Understanding the Race for the Next Computing Platform,” Goldman Sachs Investment Research, Japan, 2016.
[2]B. Technology, “VR headset shipments ‘to boom’ in 2016,” 22 04 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36110422. [Accessed 26 04 2016].
[3]P. P. ,. S. C. Morrison Julie, “A Taxonomic Analysis of What World Wide Web Activities Significantly Impact People’s Decisions and Actions,” Interactive Posters, pp. 163-164, 31 03 2001.
[4]L. D. Peter Daukintis, “Creating Virtual and Augmented Reality Apps on the Windows Platform,” 23 03 2016. [Online]. Available: https://mva.microsoft.com/en-US/training-courses/creating-virtual-and-augmented-reality-apps-on-the-windows-platform-16141?l=E69QrDSGC_8905192797. [Accessed 8 04 2016].
[5]B. Technology, “Click: How we made BBC’s first fully 360-degree show,” 11 03 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35752662. [Accessed 27 04 2016].
[6]K. Bigelow, Director, Strange Days. [Film]. USA: Twenty Century Fox, 1995.
[7]M. Leap, “Magic Leap,” 16 04 2016. [Online]. Available: https://twitter.com/magicleap/status/722476416630034432. [Accessed 26 04 2016].
[8]P. K. a. S. I. Peter Ondru´ska, “MobileFusion: Real-time Volumetric Surface Reconstruction and,” IEEE, Oxford, 2015.
[9]D. T. N. Z. ,. R. N. Stéphane Magnenat, “Live Texturing of Augmented Reality Characters from Colored Drawings,” in IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR) 2015, Fukuoka, 2015.
[10]C. Pike, F. Melchior and T. Tew, “Assessing the Plausibility of Non-Individualised Dynamic Binaural Synthesis in a Small Room,” in 55th International Conference: Spatial Audio , Salford, 2014.
[11]B. Click, “Virtual reality for your ears – Binaural sound demo (wear your headphones) – BBC Click,” 22 04 2016. [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51za5u3LtEc. [Accessed 26 04 2016].
[12]O. VR, “Oculus Best Practices,” Oculus VR, LLC, 2016.
[13]J. L. Dorado and P. A. Figueroa, “Methods to Reduce Cybersickness and Enhance Presence for In-Place,” in 3D User Interfaces (3DUI), 2015 IEEE Symposium on, Arles, 2015.
[14]L. W. Lilly Wachowski, Director, The Matrix. [Film]. United Kingdom: Joel Silver, 1999.
[15]J. Silva, “What Makes a Good Leader?,” 15 11 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FoiPApGgOjI. [Accessed 26 04 2016].

Mauricio Silva

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