How we work and play is about to transform.
After a prolonged technology “winter” — or what I like to call the ‘deceptive growth’ phase of any exponential technology — the hardware and software that power Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) applications are accelerating at an extraordinary rate.
Unprecedented new applications in almost every industry are exploding onto the scene.
Both Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality, combined with artificial intelligence, will significantly disrupt the “middleman,” and make our lives “auto-magical.” The implications will touch every aspect of our lives, from education and real estate to healthcare and manufacturing.
This January 2019 at Abundance 360, I’m planning a deep dive into how VR and AR will transform how we work, play and spend our free time. If you’re joining me at A360 (live) or via Abundance Digital, here’s a list of Tech Rockstars who will join us on the afternoon of Jan 27th:
- Philip Rosedale, the CEO of High Fidelity and creator of Second Life
- Omar Khan, the Chief Product Officer of Magic Leap
- Alvin Graylin, the China President of HTC
- Jules Urbach, the Founder and CEO of OTOY
- Rikard Steiber, the President of Viveport
- Marc Merrill, the Co-Founder & Co-Chairman of Riot Games
This blog is a preview of the conversations and insights that will evolve during Modules 3 + 4 – a snapshot of the themes that will inform our discussion.
You can find the detailed Program (all 7 modules) for Abundance 360 2019 (Jan 27-29, 2019) here.
The Future of Work
How and where we work is already changing, thanks to exponential technologies like Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
But Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are taking the future workplace to an entirely new level.
Virtual Reality Case Study: eXp Realty
I recently interviewed Abundance 360 member Glenn Sanford, who founded eXp Realty in 2008 (imagine: a real estate company on the heels of the housing market collapse) and is the CEO of eXp World Holdings.
Ten years later, and eXp Realty has an army of 14,000 agents across all 50 U.S. states, three Canadian provinces, and 400 MLS market areas… all without a single traditional staffed office.
In a bid to transition from 2D interfaces to immersive, 3D work experiences, virtual platform VirBELA built out the company’s office space in Virtual Reality, unlocking indefinite scaling potential and an extraordinary new precedent.
Real estate agents, managers and even clients gather in a unique virtual campus, replete with a sports field, library, and lobby. It’s all accessible via head-mounted displays, but most agents join with a computer browser. Surprisingly, the campus-style setup enables the same type of water-cooler conversations I see every day at the XPRIZE headquarters.
With this centralized Virtual Reality campus, eXp Realty has essentially thrown out overhead costs and entered a lucrative market without the same constraints of brick-and-mortar businesses.
Delocalize with VR technology, and you can now hire anyone with Internet access (right next door or on the other side of the planet), redesign your corporate office every month, throw in an ocean-view office or impromptu conference room for client meetings, and forget about guzzled-up hours in traffic.
As a leader, what happens when you can scalably expand and connect your workforce, not to mention your customer base, without the excess overhead of office space and furniture? Your organization can run faster and farther than your competition.
But beyond the indefinite scalability achieved through digitizing your workplace, VR’s implications extend to the lives of your employees and even the future of urban planning:
- Home Prices: As virtual headquarters and office branches take hold of the 21st century workplace, those who work on campuses like that of eXp Realty won’t need to commute to work. As a result, Virtual Reality has the potential to dramatically influence real estate prices — after all, if you don’t need to drive to an office, your home search isn’t limited to a specific set of neighborhoods anymore.
- Transportation: In major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, the implications are tremendous. Analysts have revealed that it’s already cheaper to use ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft than to own a car in many major cities. And once autonomous “Car-as-a-Service” platforms proliferate, associated transportation costs like parking fees, fuel and auto repairs will no longer fall on the individual, if not entirely disappear.
Augmented Reality: Annotate and Interact with Your Workplace
As I discussed in a recent Spatial Web blog, not only will Web 3.0 and VR advancements allow us to build out virtual worlds, but we’ll soon be able to digitally map our real-world physical offices or entire commercial high-rises too.
Enter a professional world electrified by Augmented Reality.
Our workplaces are practically littered with information. File cabinets abound with archival data and relevant documents, and company databases continue to grow at a breakneck pace. And, as all of us are increasingly aware, cybersecurity and robust data permission systems remain a major concern for CEOs and national security officials alike.
What if we could link that information to specific locations, people, timeframes and even moving objects?
As data gets added and linked to any given employee’s office, conference room or security system, we might then access online-merge-offline environments and information through augmented reality.
Imagine showing up at your building’s concierge and your Augmented Reality glasses automatically check you into the building, authenticating your identity and pulling up any reminders you’ve linked to that specific location.
You stop by a friend’s office, and his smart security system lets you know he’ll arrive in an hour. Need to book a public conference room that’s already been scheduled by another firm’s marketing team? Offer to pay them a fee and, once accepted, a smart transaction will automatically deliver a payment to their company account.
With blockchain-verified digital identities, spatially logged data and virtually manifest information, business logistics take a fraction of the time, operations grow seamless and corporate data will be safer than ever.
Or better yet, imagine precise and high-dexterity work environments populated with interactive annotations that guide an artisan, surgeon or engineer through meticulous handiwork.
Take, for instance, Augmented Reality service 3D4Medical, which annotates virtual anatomy in midair. And as Augmented Reality hardware continues to advance, we might envision a future wherein surgeons perform operations on annotated organs and magnified incision sites, or one in which quantum computer engineers can magnify and annotate mechanical parts, speeding up reaction times and vastly improving precision.
To address how Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality will affect the future of work, I’ve invited two rockstars to A360. My friend Philip Rosedale, CEO of High Fidelity and the creator of Second Life, will address the VR side of the equation, and Magic Leap’s Omar Khan will offer us cutting-edge insights into the AR side.
The Future of Free Time & Play
In Abundance, I wrote about today’s rapidly demonetizing cost of living. In 2011, almost 75 percent of the average American’s income was spent on housing, transportation, food, personal insurance, health and entertainment. What the headlines don’t mention: this is a dramatic improvement over the last 50 years. We’re spending less on basic necessities and working fewer hours than previous generations.
(Chart depicts the average weekly work hours for full-time production employees in non-agricultural activities. Source: Diamandis.com/data)
Technology continues to change this, continues to take care of us and do our work for us. One phrase that describes this is “technological socialism,” where it’s technology, not the government, that takes care of us.
Extrapolating from the data, I believe we are heading towards a post-scarcity economy. Perhaps we won’t need to work at all, because we’ll own and operate our own fleet of robots or AI systems that do our work for us.
As living expenses demonetize and workplace automation increases, what will we do with this abundance of time?
How will our children and grandchildren connect and find their purpose if they don’t have to work for a living?
As I write this on a Saturday afternoon and watch my two seven-year-old boys immersed in Minecraft, building and exploring worlds of their own creation, I can’t help but imagine that this future is about to enter its disruptive phase.
Exponential technologies are enabling a new wave of highly immersive games, virtual worlds and online communities. Revenue in the video game hardware and software sector is projected to hit $235 billion by 2022.
We’ve likely all heard of the Oasis from Ready Player One. But far beyond what we know today as ‘gaming,’ Virtual Reality is fast becoming a home to immersive storytelling, interactive films, and virtual world creation.
Within the virtual world space, let’s take one of today’s greatest precursors, the aforementioned game Minecraft.
For reference, Minecraft is over eight times the size of planet Earth. And in their free time, my kids would rather build in Minecraft than almost any other activity. I think of it as their primary passion: to create worlds, explore worlds, and be challenged in worlds.
And in the near future, we're all going to become creators of or participants in virtual worlds, each populated with assets and storylines interoperable with other virtual environments.
But while the technological methods are new, this concept has been alive and well for generations. Whether you got lost in the world of Heidi or Harry Potter, grew up reading comic books or watching television, we've all been playing in imaginary worlds, with characters and story arcs populating our minds. That's the nature of childhood.
In the past, however, your ability to edit was limited, especially if a given story came in some form of 2D media. I couldn't edit where Tom Sawyer was going or change what Iron Man was doing. But as a slew of new software advancements underlying Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality allow us to interact with characters and gain albeit limited agency (for now), both new and legacy stories will become subjects of our creation and playgrounds for virtual interaction.
Take VR/AR storytelling startup Fable Studio’s Wolves in the Walls film. Debuting at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Fable’s immersive story is adapted from Neil Gaiman’s book and tracks the protagonist, Lucy, whose programming allows her to respond differently based on what her viewers do.
And while Lucy can merely hand virtual cameras to her viewers among other limited tasks, Fable Studio’s founder Edward Saatchi sees this project as just the beginning.
Imagine a virtual character — either in Augmented or Virtual Reality — geared with AI capabilities, that now can not only participate in a fictional storyline but interact and dialogue directly with you in a host of virtual and digitally overlayed environments.
Or imagine engaging with a less-structured environment, like the Star Wars cantina, populated with strangers and friends to provide an entirely novel social media experience.
Already, we’ve seen characters like that of Pokémon brought into the real world with Pokémon Go, populating cities and real spaces with holograms and tasks. And just as Augmented Reality has the power to turn our physical environments into digital gaming platforms, advanced AR could bring on a new era of in-home entertainment.
Imagine transforming your home into a narrative environment for your kids or overlaying your office interior design with Picasso paintings and gothic architecture. As computer vision rapidly grows capable of identifying objects and mapping virtual overlays atop them, we might also one day be able to project home theatres or live sports within our homes, broadcasting full holograms that allow us to zoom into the action and place ourselves within it.
Increasingly honed and commercialized, Augmented and Virtual Reality are on the cusp of revolutionizing the way we play, tell stories, create worlds and interact with both fictional characters and each other.
And at A360, we’ll be getting a front-row seat to the top developments happening now across both software and hardware in the VR/AR consumer space.
From HTC Vive — one of the most major players in consumer VR tech — China President of HTC Alvin Graylin and Viveport President Rikard Steiber will offer us a deep dive into the current constraints and catalysts of next-gen VR, both for rapid-fire gaming platforms and immersive filmmaking.
Within the gaming field, we’ll also be hearing from Marc Merrill, Co-Founder & Co-Chairman of Riot Games, Creator of League of Legends, a key stakeholder in the future of play.
Meanwhile, Jules Urbach is working on a real-life version of the Holodeck from Star Trek. In the TV series, the Holodeck was an intelligent VR system capable of generating holographic representations of any situation imaginable. And as we get closer to such science fiction, OTOY is one of a select few stakeholders leading the charge.
I’m looking forward to hearing their insights on how life will change in the next five years. If you’d like to join the conversation, fill out an application here.
Also read: TOP 50 MOON SHOTS
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