Hey Michael Abrash, This Is the Actual Future of VR

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    "Hey da Vinci, where’s my 4K resolution?"    

"Hey da Vinci, where’s my 4K resolution?"  

I just watched the OC3 Future of VR keynote from Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist of Oculus and was pretty underwhelmed by his predictions.  Short recap of what Abrash expects by 2021:

  • 4K resolution headsets
  • Increased pixel density
  • Variable depth of focus
  • Wider field of view
  • Perfect eye tracking
  • Augmented VR

Those are the wrong priorities.  Abrash doesn’t mention the actual future of VR, which is using how the mind works to make VR more immersive. The best experiences in the future of VR will harness the way that human cognition is influenced by the environment, social interactions, and body movements in order to influence the experience. 

Hyper focusing on 4K resolution, depth of focus, etc., Abrash is discounting the mind’s ability to fill things in.  The mind can compensate when details are missing.  Think about Minecraft - it’s a pretty low fidelity video game but it’s still fun and engaging. 

Let’s get nerdy and talk about generative models.  A generative model is a complete set of concepts, terms and activities that allows people to create expectations about their experience.  Grammar is an easy example of this.  Grammar is a generative model of language because it allows people to systematically construct and communicate.  In VR, what is the equivalent of grammar?  

A generative model is a body of knowledge that enables you to systematically construct for yourself the kinds of events and states of affairs that the domain tends to present to you.
— Andy Clark

The future of VR belongs to grammarians.  Well, not exactly grammarians, but the designers who create the system that trains people to fill in the gaps of their VR experiences. 

Takeaways for VR designers:

  • Understanding how the mind works and building human-centered experiences will unlock the full potential of VR.
  • Human cognition is influenced by the environment, social interactions, and body movements in order to influence the experience.
  • The future of VR is the creation of a generative model that helps users fill in the gaps of any experience.  It will change people’s expectations about what is occurring inside of the experience and subsequently influence their experience.