Google’s VR boss ponders the future of “immersive computing”

In a Medium post, Google VP of virtual and augmented reality Clay Bavor reflects on the trials and triumphs of VR and AR development over the past year.

Bavor highlights Google’s experience with releasing the mobile VR platform Daydream, while also reflecting on Google Tango-based devices that are introducing new ways of experiencing smartphone-based AR.

He goes on to wonder: Where are VR and AR technology headed?

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It’s important to distinguish the difference between VR and AR and recognize the advantages that both technologies can offer as the fields continue to grow. As Bavor puts it, “VR can put you anywhere, and AR can bring anything to you.”

Virtual reality can create representations of 3D spaces for us to immerse ourselves in, while augmented reality can show us real-time computer generated information about the world around us.

Because VR and AR are still developing, it’s crucial to distinguish that these two technologies are not competing against each other, he says. “Many people ask me which technology will ‘win. The problem is that question suggests two competing, mutually exclusive technologies,” argues Bavor. “But it’s a false distinction.”

VR and AR should not be included in that discussion, he adds. Bavor explains VR and AR as two separate technologies existing on a spectrum; the two points will blur as the technologies develop, and the distinction between the two will become less relevant.

He refers to VR and AR as “immersive computing,” which defines as a combination of “computing with presence, physical computing, mixed reality or immersive reality.”

To answer the question of where VR and AR technologies are headed, Bavor points to removing the abstractions between ourselves and computers. That means making headsets more comfortable and easier to use. Improvements will need to be made on how devices understand location and space.

Bavor is, unsurprisingly, optimistic about the future of this new kind of computing. “One day, we’ll wonder how we ever got along without computing that works like we do — computing that’s environmentally aware, that displays information to us in context, and that looks, feels, and behaves like the real world,” he says.

Read more about Bavor’s thoughts on the future of VR and AR technology on Medium.

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