Entrepreneur and Investor
We live in a time where the separation between our physical and digital worlds seems obvious: digital is software running locally or in a mystical cloud, and physical is something you can touch. Those worlds, however, are on a collision course, fueled by the Internet of Things, Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality. In the very near future, you’ll be able to touch digital objects and program physical environments. Consider:
You plug into the virtual world to play basketball (not watch, not use a controller, actually play)…against the ’96 Chicago Bulls. In easy mode, of course.
Your t-shirt monitors your body temperature and perspiration level. That data is used to adjust your home thermostat and window opening to keep you as comfy as possible.
Are you ready? Me too! So… How do we get there?
To explain, let’s approach from each side of the physical-digital divide.
From Physical → Digital
To be honest, the Internet of Things is a pretty confusing/lame term. But, it represents a very powerful movement. It means every physical device and environment comes loaded with sensors and connected to the internet. When networked objects (like your fridge, thermostat, water bottle, chair…) collect and transmit data, we become aware of their condition and can program them just like we do websites. The world around us becomes just another programmable interface, ripe for continuous improvement to create a killer user experience. For example:
People sensors monitor local lunch spots and show you wait times. Promotions are sent out in real-time to drive customers during lulls.
Networked driverless cars speed through intersections at 200mph with incredible precision, completely aware of weather conditions, other cars and objects in their vicinity…and how late you are to pick up the kids.
Your toilet detects you have vitamin deficiencies and informs your fridge.
Your fridge in turn recommends recipes for dinner based on inventory, personal taste, and nutritional needs.
And your phone calls your mother to remind you to do what the fridge and toilet tell you.
“We all just want what’s best for you.”
From Digital → Physical
Virtual reality is one of the most exciting technologies around today. The promise of VR lies in its ability to create a sense of presence for the user. The deeper you immerse someone and engage her senses, the stronger the sense of presence you deliver. To date, nearly all capital and resources invested in VR are dedicated to your visual and auditory senses. When you pop on an Oculus Rift, you’re teleported to another world. But, your presence is limited to your eyes and ears. You’re merely a spectator in the digital world.
In time, VR will engage your other senses. You’ll be able to touch, throw, smell, even taste digital objects. VR will allow sensory immersion into a digital world that feels physically real.
You’ll swim through a pool of Jello, feeling drag created by the viscous liquid as you dive deep.
Be Subzero for real. Finish him!
Step into a virtual world and physically shake hands over a business deal or give a loved one across the world a big hug or…
All of these things and much more will be possible by the collision of our physical and digital worlds. Instead of developing apps, we’ll develop virtual experiences that feel real. And we’ll program the world around us to fulfill our personal needs and desires. It’s going to be awesome.