By Tobias Waggoner
As a mid 40ish guy in 2022, I already saw a lot of tec come. Some did stay or even grow big. Some not so much. Being in the software business for 25 years now, this also means, I had many opportunities to miss a trend - which indeed I did successfully multiple times :-)
I remember in my first year in university in 1994, we worked on our brand new 32 bit 80486DX2 PC. Like many of my age group, I deeply despised these machines.
I grew up with a line of Commodore PCs: In order of purchase: C116, C16, C16plus4, VC20, C64, Amiga 2000, Amiga 600 plus an old ZX Spectrum which my brother bought, but never really used much. I still have all of them. I moved 15 times over the last 30 years and I think I do not own anything else from the 80s but these old boxes. Compared to these, Windows PCs were just so clumsy, slow and unsexy. Anyways...
This day we were introduced to some brand new piece of tec called "Netscape Navigator", which basically would let you open some ugly documents over a hyper slow public network which would later be known as the "internet".
Given the bandwith (64 kbit ISDN was still state of the art at the time), you could literally watch the pixels of each image appear on your screen. What a complete waste of time.
We founded our first software company that year, but it took all of us "high tech entrepreneurs" two more years to recognize that "the internet" or "the web" was indeed "a thing" to investigate further and I think I did not write my first piece of HTML until way into 1997.
The same happened with "mobile" a decade later. I got my trusted Nokia 5110 in 1999 and in the following years, I tried all kind of other devices like blackberry or one of these (for the time) tiny Motorolas. But in the end I sticked with the old Nokia because - well: Writing emails on a blackberry? Nah.
So when one "Steve Jobs" in 2007 prattled about how "today Apple is going to reinvent the phone", I was less then impressed. Indeed, I totally missed the event. As did my colleagues. Funny enough in 2007, we just had founded yet another company which created a cloud / IP based communication platform. One might think that the Smart Phone was a trend that should have been on our radar. Not really. It took as two more years to get there.
Which brings us back to the present.
I have been a huge fan of virtual reality. When still in school in the late 80's I experienced a VR installation in Paris. I think it was in Paris' cité de sciences. This really was a kind of (low res) multiplayer VR experience, terminals with VR headsets distributed thoughout the location. Super cool. It's basically the only thing I remember from that trip. They had to drag me away from that headset.
Later in the late 90's, I bought some expensive "AR" glasses which never really worked and I finally threw them away in frustration.
So, the idea and basic technology of VR/XR is really not new, but it never took off yet.
In 2015/2016 there was much enthusiasm with a whole new generation of headsets coming out, but up to now it did not really take hold in the main stream. The technology was just not there yet.
But things are changing.
With a company formerly known as Facebook actually going all-in with VR/XR (even rebranding as "Meta") and other big players - Apple and Google among them - about to join the ring soon, the signs are all over the place.
The sales chart of VR technology looks like the latest wave of Corona infections (but with no vaccine in sight). Or as ccsinsight puts it: Extended reality gets into gear.
So in this, I wholeheartedly go with Mark Zuckerberg: Extended reality is finally here. And it will have an even bigger impact than Mobile did, because it will affect so many aspects of our lives. For better or worse? This remains to be seen.
And this time, I won't be a passive bystander. I own some VR headsets since early 2017, but the time never seemed right.
Now it is.
As a passionate long time software developer and entrepreneur, I will stake my claims in this new world.
And as it is oftentimes, the beginnings will be humble.
I need to learn a lot about tools like Unity and Blender, about the concepts and frameworks that apply to virtual or augmented spaces and last not least to find likeminded people who are also exploring these new realms.
In this blog, I plan to publish what I learn along the way, create tutorials of my own and maybe help others find their way to the new world.
My suitcases are packed.
Ready to go. Who is coming along?