Discussions of virtual and augmented reality offer a window into what the digital world might look like tomorrow. But there’s also a lot of noise when hearing about what the future holds for these technologies. So we decided to track down a few Brooklynites using AR and VR in interesting ways and asked them the simple question:
What don’t people know about AR/VR that they should?
Here’s what we heard:
1. It’s opening up a new world for artists.
Carla Gannis is a professor in the digital arts department at Pratt. Last year she had a show at East Williamsburg’s Transfer Gallery of her work in digital media, A Subject Self-Defined.
“I’m most excited right now about the artistic potential of AR/VR,” she told Technical.ly. “So many artists, even those who do not consider themselves ‘tech artists’ are now beginning to explore these technologies due to their being more user friendly and accessible. It’s an exciting time to reflect on the heightened experiences that can occur when physical locations cohabitate with digital domains, when real objects interplay with virtual forms. It’s no longer either-or; real world or Second Life; metaverse or meatspace. It’s all just LIFE now, and artists have always been very good at reflecting on and teasing out the intriguing parts of life.”
2. It allows potential tenants to take tours of a building that’s still under construction.
Jeremiah Kane is a real estate developer with Rubenstein Partners. The company’s newest building, at 25 Kent St. in Williamsburg, is under construction, and when finished will be eight floors tall and take up a full city block. It’s targeting tenants in the tech and creative fields.
“We knew the technology would allow tenants to picture themselves in the space,” he said. “Our VR presentation actually shows them what the entire lobby will look like with their own sign behind a front desk. The space at 25 Kent also has very high ceilings but rather than saying our 15 foot ceilings are taller than almost any building in Manhattan, we use the VR technology to demonstrate what that actually feels like.”
3. VR content is really cheap to produce, for a new technology.
Bowie Alexander is a Williamsburg-based filmmaker who’s been working in virtual reality for years. His work has included advertising campaigns, artist branding, music videos and film.
“What I find most interesting about VR is that it’s outrageously cheap from the beginning. If you look at film, 3D, computer animation and all these other art forms, they were extremely expensive when they first came out. You could get a Samsung 360 camera for $260. It shoots 4K! That’s outrageously cheap for being a brand new technology, especially for something that advanced. And you could view virtual reality on your smart phone. You don’t even need to buy anything to view it!”
4. And it’s only getting cheaper.
Jonathan Klein works for the Dumbo-based AR and VR studio VirtualAPT.
“With the advent of improved technology, software and cameras, the costs of producing 360° VR content have dramatically declined over the past year,” said Klein. “Because of limited knowledge about the VR space and production costs, in the past some clients incurred significant expenses for content. Today, instead of a multi-step stitching process that could cost up to $10,000 per finished minute, specialty camera systems that use multiple lenses stitch digital video clips almost for free. Cost reductions have also been created by competition between multiple production companies vying for business with brands, agencies and marketers.”
5. It’s eliminating the distinction between the physical and digital worlds.
Shannon Holloway is a designer and researcher at NYU Tandon’s Integrated Digital Media program.
“With screens and devices everywhere we are already somewhere in the middle of the continuum between completely real environments and virtual ones,” she said. “Today’s AR/VR experiences may be mostly delivered through mobile devices and head-mounted displays, but we are approaching increasingly interactive environments.”