AR/VR Developer Trends You Don’t Want To Miss

Your Brain on HoloLens


In previous years, virtual reality(VR) has served in markets like gaming, education, and entertainment.  Players like Oculus, Vive, Playstation, Google have created a hardware and software ecosystem that enables you to experience games in truly remarkable ways. While I have never been to Sydney Australia, I have experienced flying around Sydney thanks to 360-degree cameras, YouTube VR 360, and some clever drone photographers.  These kinds of experience can really support rich education and entertainment experiences.

With advances in augmented reality(AR) and simultaneous location and mapping(SLAM) technology, business, engineering, and science markets will uncover innovative ways to leverage 3D content that overlays the real world.  On a personal level, I hope these technologies find ways to enhance human knowledge, create new forms of collaboration, and create new modes of human-computer interaction. Like many computer geeks, I want to help build Jarvis from Ironman.

After reflecting on some of the announcements from Google I/O 2017 and mixed reality technology that I’ve been reviewing, I wanted to summarize a few key trends in the AR/VR market. I hope that this analysis helps spark innovations in your work.

Simultaneous, Location, and Mapping – Where is your device?  Enhancing a computer’s context and sensors always lead to new innovations.   As devices gain the ability to locate themselves in indoor environments while building a map of the room, software innovators will uncover new ways to empower users to explore and create 3D content. Under Google’s project Tango platform, Google has explored the potential of building Android devices equipped with depth sensors and fish-eye lenses enabling these devices to run robust SLAM algorithms. More recently, Google has released ARCore technology to high-end Android devices. The ARCore technology enables a device to localize itself through image analysis of surfaces and features in the room obtained through the web camera.   Through Google’s vision positioning system, Google hopes to leverage similar computer vision technology to help your device localize itself in public indoor environments. (for example a Lowe’s or museum).   In Google’s marketing terms, SLAM is called WorldSense.   Microsoft and other vendors refer to this technology as “inside-out” tracking.

More mobile platforms: In Google I/O 2017, Google and their related partners will be producing stand-alone VR headsets.  In contrast to the current generation of Vive which leverages beacons positioned around your workspace, these headsets will leverage a WorldSense technology or SLAM system. The stand-alone headsets will function without a chord to a high powered gaming computer creating more freedom of movement for the user. I currently own a HP mixed reality headset which leverages a similar SLAM technology. The technology works well while connected to a middle-grade gaming laptop. Microsoft and their partners have announced a nice ecosystem of Mixed Reality VR headsets. Consumers will love this competition of hardware and software. The competition helps to drive down price and increase the impact of software.

More AR headsets: At present, I believe that Microsoft leads the market on heads-up augmented reality. I also enjoy watching the work of MetaVision in this space. From specs, this device will have the widest field-of-view available on the market. This device will explore how users will interact with 3D content leveraging natural gestures. Gesture-based interaction will be an interesting field of research. It’s great to see new players in this space of technology to help add competition and drive innovation. (see videos below)

VR and AR meet the innovation model of the web: I’m really interested to see how VR and AR will intersect web technologies. In support of our Google DevFest in Florida, I have been researching the AFrame and WebVR ecosystem. When you want to enjoy a blog post, you click a link and you start to enjoy the content. It’s nice that WebVR technology enables users to quickly jump into VR experiences without a robust app install process. (just click the link). Make sure to check out the AFrame.IO website for examples. Google has already published experimental instances of Chrome that integrate with ARCore. This enables JavaScript/HTML developers to experiment with AR applications using web skills.

Really love the work of the Mozilla WebVR team. Make sure to check out their video below:

For app makers, there’s an exciting canvas of potential for building AR and VR experiences. With all of these tools and innovations in device localization, it’s an exciting time to be a developer.

What other trends in AR and VR do you find interesting? Leave a comment below!


  • Microsoft Mixed Reality Channel

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