Monday, February 20, 2017

Virtual Reality will go the way of 3D TV (but all is not lost)

Back in 2011 I wrote a blog on EETimes about why 3D TV was doomed to fail (and I was right!) so I'm emboldened to do the same for Virtual Reality (VR) for many of the same reasons. This thought was triggered by a couple of things, first I was at a major trade show where a vendor was using VR to demonstrate how their technology could be implemented to save money and improve safety.  Unfortunately is was cool but unsatisfying as a real demonstration and came across as gimmicky not to mention the weird feeling of isolation and unsteadiness that VR creates, at least in me. Second, I watched Scott Galloway's weekly video on media (a must subscribe) and he noted that Oculus/Facebook mini stores in Best Buys are closing because of disappointing sales.  Even the porn industry seems ambivalent about VR and that in itself is damning!

Now I hope you don't think I'm a complete Luddite,  I am after all a huge IoT booster and now I'm in the energy biz (new gig at Penton Energy) I see enormous potential in how the IoT will thrive in the industrial market.  That also brings me to another more positive prediction and that is for VR's baby cousin, Augmented Reality (AR) which I think will be a success as it interfaces with the IoT.  Maybe even calling it AR makes it to closely associated with VR so let's call it a heads up display for industrial workers.  Safety is a major issue in the utility business and having instant access to sensor data would be a huge benefit.  The Electric Power research institute (EPRI) has developed an AR app; check out the video:

This is a rudimentary start and the application doesn't interact with smart devices on the pole so we have a long way to go but its a phenomenal opportunity for the manufacturers of transmission and distribution hardware and a potential leap in productivity for the utilities who maintain the network.

My prediction is that AR and industrial IoT have a bright future but there's a lot of work needed on the interface and standards on who owns the data.  The enemy is us!