The Visual Turing Test: a unified VR vision for the future
Showing your working helps us all grasp what we're aiming for.
This week, Meta delivered a genuinely intriguing look behind the curtain at its research into truly advanced virtual reality headsets.
So much of tech today can be too much sizzle with very little sausage. Meta’s own presentation when changing its name last year was an example of exactly that – big ideas, light on detail.
This latest look at the layers and layers of research going into VR headsets was a great example of bringing enthusiasts on a journey so we all know which ‘future’ Meta is striving for. All underpinned by a grand ambition to beat a “Visual Turing Test” where the world inside VR looks as real as the world outside.
The demo constantly reminded viewers how far these products are from the market, and by showing how much progress (or sometimes how little progress) has been made over the past five years it helped paint a better picture of what the next 5-10 years could look like in VR and AR technology.
One impressive aspect was the isolated paths within the research teams. Some working on achieving a readable eye chart. Other discussions on the need to boost brightness and HDR. How lenses and optics are being advanced to slim down the size of headsets. And some very advanced eye tracking to keep images in focus wherever the wearer wanted to look.
Is winning a Visual Turing Test what we want from VR? Is that the ideal visual space? I’m happy to say that’s a separate debate. Simply by giving us a clear goal, Meta helped us to understand how these various research efforts would eventually come together to achieve a far better VR experience than what is achievable today.
Tech can be so guarded. Companies can worry about reducing sales of today’s products if they show too much excitement for tomorrow’s. But VR is a space where enthusiasts are going to enthusiast. They’ll keep exploring new gear as it arrives. And very few outside the hardcore are interested in buying VR right now.
This kind of ‘sneak preview’ of tech gets people excited for what will eventually be possible. It reminds us technology is HARD. That solving big challenges is what drives the extremely smart people who make this stuff.
As a fan of what VR makes possible today – and the even bigger potential for the future – I’ve felt a bit disappointed by how slowly the tech has evolved over the past five years. But a session like this restored some confidence that the boffins are in the midst of solving some really tough problems.
Even if you decide that whatever Meta metaverse of ads and microtransactions may await, the research their teams are doing will undoubtedly feed into the research being done at places like Apple and HTC and Google and PlayStation to push this space forward.
That’s a win for whatever may be possible when we hit the 2030s, and the era when I’ll probably be sent to some VR retirement home. Just hook old man Seamus up to VR World of Warcraft and don’t tell me when I died. Thanks.
More on that…
Zuckerberg wants Meta headsets to pass the Visual Turing Test (UploadVR) :: A run down from one of the best sites following the evolution of VR out there. Plus more details from UploadVR here and here.
We’re cleaning our email list at the end of June. Clicking any link will confirm you’re still interested. Here’s an easy one to confirm you’re paying attention.
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