16 Mar Echoes of Austin: Welcome to Generation MR
I went to SXSW to experience VR, so dedicated a day to wearing a headset interspersed with a mix of seminars and panels. Time challenged I could only try a dozen of the VR showcases – nevertheless, I managed to delve into a collection of the weirdest, darkest, and most sublime experiences.
From the Rift and Vive to Playstation and the Gear, on to emerging players like Meta, Magic Leap and HoloLens, VR and AR – also known as mixed reality or MR – are positioned too deeply alter our culture and relationships with both the digitised world and ourselves.
This stuff is mindblowing and the industry is about to take off on a rocket-ship ride. I liken it to the days when early explorers believed the world is flat, then realised it is round. The age of VR is rediscovery and it’s literally in our hands and on our heads.
The hardware is getting more sophisticated, lighter, cheaper, while processing power accelerates, smartphones are already optimised with chips to capture the world in depth.
At SXSW I felt like my brain was being hacked during many experiences, I even had an out of body experience and fell over in one. VR is LSD for the masses – one minute I’m an amoeba, the next a sentient being at the heart of a graphic fable. When not fending off insects and angry apes, I’m immersed in a retail experience, a storytelling environment, or a debate on how humans should choose to live – a natural garden of Eden or a fully machine-operated world.
Today technology is an extension of oneself. Instead of ‘going online’ we are always online and this will play out until MR blurs reality. The digital natives – generation X, Y, Z and the rest are always hyper-connected. Regardless of whether this is a bad thing or a good thing, it’s the new normal.
Tech usage is relative, It’s generational and soon MR will be a way of life. Generation MR finds VR and AI intuitive, almost zero instruction required. Aside from Pokemon GO and it’s peers, students are offered VR, AR and MR as a tool to learn in the classroom and the first thing they do after the immersed experience is share it, spread it and talk about it, no matter what the content, boring or not. That signals the era of the natural collective, shared experiences and generation MR.
Most importantly, this era will define the internet of me. Where we all used to all consume the same shared storyline, now we can customise our media and real-world choices.