If you have been to your local mall recently, you have probably noticed that virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) products and services are now hitting the market in much greater numbers than last year. These digital experiences mix with or even completely replace physical reality, letting users get out from behind their devices’ screens.
From sports to retail, entertainment, and medicine, there are clear signs that we are approaching a tipping point with immersive technology. These signs are similar to those we experienced before other major platforms—such as the Web and smartphones—exploded on the scene. Businesses are investing strategically in what will be the biggest platform introduction since mobile. For example, Mark Zuckerberg offered a strong business rationale for Facebook’s decision to pay $2 billion for Oculus Rift: “Strategically, we want to start building the next major computing platform that will come after mobile. … Immersive virtual and augmented reality will become a part of people’s everyday [lives].” Read More
As recently as 25 years ago, the physical reality in which we lived was an analog world that was becoming increasingly global. While globalization is still very much a factor today, our world is now decidedly connected and is becoming increasingly virtual. However, thanks to a combination of enabling technology and the possible impacts of global warming, some aspects of globalization are shifting back to being local. This connectedness—both virtual and local—is contributing to the emerging world of smartware.
As we detailed in “The Smartware Transformation,” smartware is a convergence of emerging technologies and science. Artificial intelligence (AI) is fueling its rise. The technologies that are enabling smartware include the Internet of Things (IoT), mixed-reality environments, and additive fabrication, or 3D printing, as are incredible advances in sciences such as genomics and neuroscience. Some or all of these advances are core to the emergence of incredible new products that are just over the horizon—products such as self-driving vehicles and neighborhood parts manufacturing. In “Smartware, AI, and Magical Products,” we took a look at the current darling of technology and entertainment media: artificial intelligence. We’ll continue that analysis in this installment, as we look at some other core smartware technologies, before covering the key sciences underlying smartware in our next column. Read More