Happy holidays 2016!

Hey everbody!

Happy holidays and (to whom it may concern) a merry Christmas!

What a year, right?! A lot was going on and we were swamped by a lot of new devices and demos and games in 2016! Though, with all virtual reality news and devices that came out and the hype around it, it was still an Augmented Reality year for me! All of us got their hopes up for more AR devices to hit the market (or at least the labs) in 2016, META did quite make it just now, but Magic Leap was quite a bummer.

Well, let me comment on ML: still, this might be good for them to start fresh with their “One” product and expectations that better match reality. It sure was a failure to pretend that WETA-offline-quality (robot demo in the ML office) already works with a very wide field of view and depth focussing on a wearable device… some say, they might be the new scapegoats responsible when it comes to a bursting AR bubble and AR getting a bad reputation not delivering… but then again it´s the tech writers, PR guys and CEOs of other companies who get so excited about a demo video. Obviously noone should believe those 1:1. Same happend to Microsoft Hololens videos. People were bitching about the difference of the FOV in videos and in reality. But for me, still:

2016 sure was the year of the Hololens to shine and to bring AR a big step forward!

No, I am not paid by Microsoft or a fanboy. The last years more on the contrary. And no! I don´t think 2016 was the year of Pokeon AR! But seriously, I do believe, that Microsoft did a really good job on their marketing, roll-out strategy and their first dev kit! Okay okay, it really is expensive. But the fov doesn´t bother me for a dev kit. They reached out well to the developer´s community and are really pushing support and integration. Especially the new Unity3D 5.5 integration of direct Hololens emulation and remote testing is a great step for faster dev cycles! I have the feeling that their holographic platform with 3rd parties selling new devices next year and their focus on an operating system for mixed reality was a smart move.

I do miss better interaction methods, though. I hope we will see more than air-tapping and Cortana in it. I feel so restricted in AR with it… like using a bad, non-responsive touch screen for coding. Meta shines (in theory) with full Leap-Motion-like finger interaction. Let´s hope that there will be more on Holographic, too! Also, full object recognition and alignment (registration) is still a huge gap for me in today´s AR devices being inside-out without markers. I want to fix things and overlay by the millimeter… still need to wait, I guess…

So, will 2017 already dive deep into glasses-based AR? Or will we upgrade next to Tango-like handhelds? Is Apple finally coming up with AR in their next gen phones? I was a bit disappointed by Tango this year. The Phab 2 is too big to be good, but no other practical device hit the market, though it has been around for quite a while.

So, what will see next in 2017? CES will as usual be the first chance to get some big news. Or do we have to wait for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February? Will Samsung present a new Gear with AR-support? What about more Holographic devices from the other companies? Will they work well? Are the minimum requirements too low to be good? Will we get wireless VR already? When do we get better Tango consumer devices? What about other AR companies and their upcoming products and what about Magic Leap in 2017?

Well, questions that will hopefully be answered very soon. I do cross my fingers for the next big news on Jan, 5th-8th! But for now… time to lay the devices aside and to relax in an analogue way. If you are home alone – use the VR glasses to meet with your friends and family! But otherwise: let´s leave the glasses aside for a while. Enjoy the relaxed days and go out into the snow (or to the beach)!

I will be back with updates first week of January, but we will continue our (German) AR/VR podcast under vrodo.de next week, as well! Make sure to tune in!

So, all the best for 2017!

– Toby.

Free picture taken from Wallup.