Facebook’s global F8 developer’s conference is underway, opening a window to new products and possibilities across many industries. Oculus’ chief scientist Michael Abrash took the stage on the second day of F8 to discuss augmented reality and, ultimately, painted an exciting yet very humbling picture for those looking forward to AR’s evolution. While VR is seemingly hitting a stride, Abrash says full AR may take another 5-10 years before it has its “Macintosh moment”.
We have AR content like filters and stickers on mobile devices and different AR headsets in development, but what exactly is the “full” AR experience? Abrash describes it as “glasses that enhance your vision and hearing seamlessly, that make you smarter and more capable, and that are light, comfortable, stylish, power efficient, and socially acceptable to be a constant part of your life”.
“Full AR will not be an occasional or special case device,” he says. “It will be your always-on helper continually aware of your surroundings, your context, and your history. Constantly mixing the real and virtual worlds to serve your needs and keep you connected.”
All of this sounds incredible, but what specifically needs to change for it to become a reality? Abrash points toward a collection of things that require technology that is “beyond today’s state of the art”. Optics and displays, audio, interaction, computer vision, AI, system design, and UX all need significant advancements before full AR becomes a reality. We’re also going to see less than full implementations of this tech while the industry develops.
Whenever all of those puzzle pieces do fall into place, however, Abrash has a pretty incredible forecast: “I predict that AR will involve the greatest leap in the nature of human/computer interactions since the mouse and GUI.”