At Siggraph this year I was lucky enough to try out many emerging forms of immersive media. Everything from dome projections (think planetariums) to Head Mounted Displays (HMDs) to holograms made from laser beams (for real) was on display. One thing that became very clear to me after viewing and experiencing many movies, music videos, and interactive experiences is that immersive media is becoming real, and it will soon find its way into our lives in more and more ways.
In the next few years we will see a massive growth in the market of immersive media technology. We already see devices such as Galaxy Gear VR and Google Cardboard making their way into homes. Oculus Rift is preparing for a launch next year of its consumer display; HoloLens from Microsoft is gearing up to be close behind.
We’ve seen the arrival of many 360 cameras designed to capture video to be viewed with an HMD or in an immersive theater. We’ve seen Virtual Reality experiences and 360 degree video make their rounds from small technology festivals all the way to Sundance, and even on to YouTube. The next generation of web standards is being written right now to allow for all sorts of new streaming capability. There is an experimental API called WebVR that allows users to stream an experience from the web to an HMD as easily as clicking the “fullscreen” button. This is sure to be standardized in the next major release of browsers. Microsoft has developed a technique to capture an entire scene in 3D so it can be streamed via the web to living rooms, which will allow users to view the event from any angle using HoloLens.
Sharing and viewing immersive media will soon be as common as sharing videos is today. Similarly, we will see interactive content move from 2D screens, to 3D via HMDs, and finally merge with the real world through augmentation displays like HoloLens. Content creation will take on new forms as the lines between movies, video games, and interactive experiences blur further. Audio will have a new found importance to create realistic feeling of space and direction in our digital lives.
This shift may not happen rapidly, as the size and price of HMDs is currently prohibitive for a large portion of users, but the wheels are definitely in motion and expect to see newer, lighter, better devices in the future that will take these forms of media into their maturity.
Header Photo Credit: Siggraph