|Towards a Transworld future where we move freely between physical, augmented & virtual realities.|
The one-two punch of Facebook's $2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift and High Fidelity's $2.5 million in new funding made me rethink the post I was writing on the future of virtual worlds. A week ago I was skeptical about the odds of virtual worlds gaining mainstream traction in the near future. Today I'm feeling more optimistic. Not because I believe that new VR hardware will catapult existing virtual worlds beyond their current markets. But because the inevitable investment feeding frenzy will fund new hardware and software platforms that will extend the VR medium into social networking, shopping, entertainment and other mainstream activities.
Virtual reality is a natural extension of the second-screen phenomenon. Today, we watch news and television together in the shared psychological space of social networks. Tomorrow, we'll be watching together in the shared physical space of virtual reality. Today we shop online and imagine what our purchases will look like in our homes. Tomorrow, we'll preview 3D printable goods in our virtual homes and try new clothes on our avatars. These kinds of scenarios have the potential to make virtual reality a medium people use in the normal course of personal and business life.
I look forward to a transworld future where people move freely between physical, augmented and virtual realities, jumping between PCs, consoles, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, AR glasses and VR goggles. I'm not sure where proprietary virtual worlds will fit into the picture as the medium matures and begins to develop interoperable standards. As for Second Life, Linden Lab is going to have to get their act together to meet challenges from a plethora of well-funded competitors who aren't tied to a ten year old platform and the associated technical debt.