The problems and challenges that have led up to the state of virtual and augmented reality technologies as they exist today have been exactly that: problems and challenges. Teams have worked tirelessly to bring the hardware, sensors, firmware, tools, and applications to us, and our work in the immersive technology industry is just beginning.
What we are building is not simple.
Let us not forget what companies and individuals have accomplished when we look to the applications being released now and see only the gaps. We’re hungry. We’ve been patient for years – and for many in the space, decades – for the promise of virtual and augmented reality to arrive. We’ve been learning how to create, and bring our imaginations and worlds to life. We’ve been hooked for years – and we want that promise to be here.
There are incredibly hard questions that we need to discover answers to.
As we begin to fully explore the idea that at some level we’re democratizing the ability to play god, challenges will arise, and we will need to question, discuss, and work together on solving these new areas of technological culture and society. There are questions about security, expectations of privacy, representation and identity, safety – and it can be easy to let years of anticipation boil over into a place from which it is easy to fight, argue, block, and ignore.
We need to continue the spirit of respectful collaboration.
We are so much more productive as a species when we work together than we are individually. The distributed, asynchronous nature of the internet can remove sentiment from language and make it harder for us to remember the individual people on the other side of the screen. This is one of my favorite things about the promise of socially connected, immersive technologies: it’s the ability to go beyond the screens. We’re tired of edges, and we should be applying that how we interact with each other – especially as the questions we need to solve are increasingly turning from technical to cultural, and require complete representation and respect. This means listening to, hearing, and acknowledging that we are all people working towards a goal of truly engaging, personalized computing technologies, despite differences in upbringing, goals, values, personalities, and expression.
This is going to be challenging, but worth it.
When we consider immersive technologies, we are not augmenting the world around us independently of ourselves – we’re going to change, and adapt, and respond, and be affected, too. We exist in a system that we are fully integrated into, not separate from, and thus we need to deeply consider that in how we design, build, and share experiences. Those decisions and choices cannot be made quickly and irreversibly.