Michael Abrash, Chief Scientist at Oculus, as-ever delivered an inspiring presentation at today’s F8 conference, this time on the topic of Augmented Reality. AR has received top billing at this year’s event, with Facebook introducing a camera-based platform to develop today’s technology; Abrash’s talk looked further ahead to glasses-based AR which he says will transform how we work and play.

Opening the Facebook F8 event yesterday, founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg briefly mentioned an exciting future of wearable AR hardware before moving his focus to the near-term with the smartphone and camera. Today, Michael Abrash’s talk was a deeper look at AR glasses, a product he believes is “on the way, and when they arrive, they’ll be one of the great transformational technologies of the next 50 years.” You can watch his presentation in full in the video below, starting at 57:45.

Live at F8

Facebook's CTO Mike Schroepfer is kicking-off day two of #F8. Watch it live here

Publié par Facebook for Developers sur mercredi 19 avril 2017

Abrash thinks the “new wave of virtual computing,”—which he defines as encompassing VR and AR—could even surpass the impact of the personal computing revolution of the last 50 years. Imagining a world 20 or 30 years from now, he predicts we will wear stylish glasses all day, offering “VR, AR, and everything in between”, with real and virtual worlds seamlessly mixing throughout our daily lives.

Looking to a nearer future, where VR and AR are still treading distinct hardware paths, Abrash notes that “always-on, go-everywhere mixed reality” won’t be a VR headset’s strong suit, due to the problem of social acceptability; see-through AR glasses is the sensible route towards acceptable integration of virtual computing.

The concept of “Full AR” was introduced, which Abrash defines as “glasses that enhance your hearing and vision seamlessly, make you smarter and more capable, and that are light, comfortable, stylish, power efficient, and socially acceptable enough to be a constant part of your life”. The hardware would 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”.

“Oculus Research is hard at work on AR, and we’re far from the only ones”, says Abrash, but notes that many of the necessary enabling technologies do not currently exist. He outlined the broad challenges facing R&D labs in the foreseeable future: ‘Full AR’ requires major advancements in optics and displays, audio, interaction, computer vision, AI, system design, UX, material science, perceptual science, and graphics. Noting the importance of an interaction revolution, Abrash suggested the ultimate solution would be a “direct brain interface,” a promising area of research, as highlighted in the talk that followed.

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“Despite all the attention focused on AR today, it will be 5 years at best before we’re really at the start of the ramp to widespread glasses-based augmented reality, before AR has its ‘Macintosh moment’,” Abrash said.

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The trial version of Microsoft’s Monster Truck Madness probably had something to do with it. And certainly the original Super Mario Kart and Gran Turismo. A car nut from an early age, Dominic was always drawn to racing games above all other genres. Now a seasoned driving simulation enthusiast, and former editor of Sim Racer magazine, Dominic has followed virtual reality developments with keen interest, as cockpit-based simulation is a perfect match for the technology. Conditions could hardly be more ideal, a scientist once said. Writing about simulators lead him to Road to VR, whose broad coverage of the industry revealed the bigger picture and limitless potential of the medium. Passionate about technology and a lifelong PC gamer, Dominic suffers from the ‘tweak for days’ PC gaming condition, where he plays the same section over and over at every possible combination of visual settings to find the right balance between fidelity and performance. Based within The Fens of Lincolnshire (it’s very flat), Dominic can sometimes be found marvelling at the real world’s ‘draw distance’, wishing virtual technologies would catch up.
  • Get Schwifty!

    By that strict a definition of course AR is way off…. but it’s really not is it? This reminds me of the period of mainframes and dumb terminals; the technology was clunky, but it worked and enabled the first stage of the Information revolution, but the larger sweep occurred when the PC arrived on the stage. So it seems to me the same is with both VR and AR; we are in the mainframe days, and still very early at that, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have effective VR and AR now, it just may not be a near-commodity with mass appeal the way the PC did- yet.

    • Secular1Humanist

      I think it’s the form factor that needs the most work. That and battery. The day that we have MR glasses that look and weigh close to the same as a standard pair of glasses, and last 18 hours on a single charge, at a reasonable price, then most of the hard work is done.
      But I don’t see this being the case for another decade at least.

      • Get Schwifty!

        Definitely form-factor, but also the infrastructure to support AR ala say Minority Report is nowhere near where they want it to be. Localized, “clunky” AR and VR will be the norm for the next 6-10 years.

  • Secular1Humanist

    I’m looking forward to the day we have an all in one device for MR and VR.

  • Secular1Humanist

    That’s true, and I’m no fan of either Trump or Luckey (politically), but it’s unavoidable.
    Companies hire lots of people, some of them are going to be undesirable. They’re going to be homophobic and racist and sexist. And they’re going to get rich. That’s life. The only time I’ll boycott a company is when such figures are running the company. Especially if they’re using their money to finance bad policies, hate groups, etc.

    • Get Schwifty!

      Don’t forget: secular humanism is on the way out globally – birth rates among them is so low that the world is actually no longer adopting the platform without question and looking the other way as the culture is not being passed on. Not saying that’s a good thing necessarily in every case, but understand that the virtue of the position alone doesn’t make it successful as an idea.

      • Secular1Humanist

        Secular Humanism is on the rise in the west. The numbers of religious are on the decline in the west, according to every survey done.
        Thanks to the democratisation of information.

        A century ago the percentage of religious people was much higher, so logically, many religious people lost religious beliefs.
        In fact most atheists today used to be religious.

        Likewise humanistic ideas like equality for all, is also on the rise, religious ideas, like homophobia and misogyny is on the decline.

        But don’t make the mistake of assuming that I subscribe to secular humanism because it’s popular or because it’s on the increase.
        I would be a secular humanist, even if I was the only secular humanist, because I’m attracted to its ideas.

        And besides, this is a VR forum, not a religious one. Let’s stay on topic.

    • Nairobi

      @ithinkmycatisaflea:disqus Typical liberal tantrum. Temporary boycott because 1 person out of a thousand person apolitical company doesn’t align with his political views. Even after winning the election…

      • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

        There is nothing temporary about this boycott.

        • Brent


          • MosBen

            I don’t agree with him, but man, that was a gross comment. Cut it out.

        • Foreign Devil

          I dont’ like Trump either. . but dude you are insufferable! I thought we’d hear the last of your agenda once Palmer left Facebook.

          • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

            Palmer has shares in Oculus/Facebook. If someone buys any Oculus hardware or software then they are lining Palmer’s alt-right, Trump-loving pockets. Wake up! Oculus has become a toxic brand.

            @developers and anyone involved with Oculus Launch Pad/Oculus diversity: I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…

    • David

      @ithinkmycatisaflea:disqus And I probably donated an equal percentage of my own income to Bernie Sanders. What exactly is the point you’re attempting to push? That the political affiliation of an employee should be grounds for boycotting their company? That we should be hired or fired based upon our loyalty in an unholy union of political party and corporation? As someone who found McCarthyism and the witch-hunt for “commies” to be reprehensible to the ideals of a free-people, I likewise decry this as yet another foul idea. Until you return to the ideals of free expression and acceptance, even from the opponents of your ideals, you are no ally of the left, for if Milo, Luckey and Trump have no place within our vision for the future, then we have no vision worth pursuing… If I had any gripes with Facebook at all, it would be that they’re collecting large quantities of data on their users, and that I often fear that the public is leaning towards a state in which people attempt to force others to conformity because it is beyond inconvenient to proceed with ones schemes with the population one has, when your ideas seem to work so flawlessly with the population you desire. To do so, however, is the very antithesis of freedom, destroying even the freedom of self, a literal prison by any other name.

    • MosBen

      Agreed. I can’t do much about rich people being assholes, but I can try to avoid buying things from companies who use their position at a big company to express or inflict their asshole-ish tendencies. I held off buying a Rift for a long time for a lot of reasons, among them Lucky being an asshole. But then I had the money, and a capable computer, and he was out, so I got a Rift.

    • ribbitz

      I like how I can still see the intelligent retorts to “ithinkmycathasfleas,” but all of his idiocy is replaced with “This user is blocked.” That’s a great blocking system. So soothing.

  • superdonkey

    not everyone is american or hates the alt-right

    • Secular1Humanist

      Well done for stating the obvious.

  • NooYawker

    I’m wondering where Google is in all this. They were pretty big on google glass, it bombed but this seems like a good time to get back on that horse and make it work.

  • It’s going to take way more than ten years before we’ll have completely standalone (not even tethered to a smartphone) AR glasses that can do more than the most basic stuff and that are small enough and comfortable enough to wear as a when you want to use them during the day–just think about how small glasses actually are, and then imagine trying to fit anything else beyond the smallest mirco-chip and a couple of bits and bobs in there. . . . Even your current state-of-the-art smartphone or smartwatch is still an order of magnitude larger than that space, and smartwatches aren’t exactly doing much to get genuinely excited about right now. It’s going to be a long time before an entire computer around the size of a penny will be capable of doing what even the most mundane AR setup is going to want to do to be worth caring about (let’s not forget how limited and boring something like Google Glass actually turned out toe be in reality, and even that was still tethered to your smartphone). Until then you’re either going to have to still carry around another device to do most of the computing, like your smartphone or whatever; so that means most AR devices until then are either going to be clumsy, made for a particular use, or are doing stuff you might as well just pull out the phone in your pocket to do anyway. And even then, it’s one again going to be largely productivity and lifestyle stuff that AR is good for, which seriously does not excite me much at all. I honestly do not care about seeing people’s names above their heads, viewing a floating display of the current weather or how many calories I’ve burned, or looking at “holographic” graphics of sales metrics, or any of that kind of stuff. There’s a few things AR could be really cool for, like watching movies on a giant virtual screen or play virtual board games, but in most cases I still see VR as being the far more exciting product when it comes to actual gaming and entertainment, which is much more interesting and compelling to me.

  • Tim Suetens

    Just 5 years for this AR utopia? Not likely… Look at 2012. Has that much changed since then? No. We’re still using the same phones, only now they are marginally more powerful.

    • Noone

      SO you send me a private message to tell me you’ve blocked me for some comment… threat of violence? I have never threatened anyone with violence in my life buddy. If you think by blocking me I can’t find you in 3 minutes through a google search then ignorance is bliss. Please explain yourself and don’t ruin my day with cryptic messages to my facebook inbox. #unnecessarydrama


      • Tim Suetens

        How utterly pathetic are you to make such a big deal over this? Did you actually search me out JUST to comment this? You sad creep. Before you start thinking you’re important to me: I don’t even remember who you are or why I blocked you, and neither do I care. Keep ‘finding’ me. I’ll just block you on every platform I have until you run out of accounts.

      • Tim Suetens

        HAHAHA, you made your Discus profile TODAY? Implying you actually made a profile JUST to try and piss me off? This is pathetic on a whole new level.

  • Mateusz Pawluczuk

    Looks that Abrash after being bullish on VR is back to AR camp for now. I prefer Ready Player One over, say, Minority Report. Underlaying tech might be similar but the possible future outcones associated witch each of them are quite far apart.

  • Mateusz Pawluczuk

    Looks that Abrash after being bullish on VR is back to AR camp for now. I prefer Ready Player One over, say, Minority Report. Underlaying tech might be similar but the possible future outcomes associated with each of them are quite far apart.