As part of our virtual reality series I’ve blogged about software and applications, so I figured it’s time to tackle equipment. I sort of crashed the French Association of Virtual Reality’s meeting held this time Dassault Systèmes Campus, and David Nahon (read his VR interview here) kindly introduced me to Christophe Chartier. Christophe works on the VR equipment side as president for Immersion and has been active in the virtual reality market for quite awhile.
Here’s what I asked Christophe:
- How do you think VR equipment for everyday people (home usage) will evolve?
- What’s the future of VR equipment and what’s the next innovation?
- What work are you doing with multi-touch computing and VR tactile interfaces?
- What’s the future of virtual reality? (I’m asking several people this one so we can compare notes.)
Following the interview I’ve included a video of Immersion’s Cubtile 3D multitouch device.
Q1: How do you think VR equipment for everyday people (home usage) will evolve?
If we want the development of VR equipment to be really mainstream the technology must be transparent. So forget set-ups including specialized gloves and headsets, which are today’s emblems of virtual reality equipment. In my opinion they won’t permit the mass deployment of VR technology. The set-up should integrate with the home environment, and for this we need equipment that’s more and more intelligent. Perhaps we’re talking more about augmented reality permitting us to enrich our homes.
This could be transparent surfaces where information superimposes itself. I think this sort of technology will help enrich daily living and improve our everyday lives. It could make access to complex information simpler, or to make it simpler to collaborate within the family whether it’s with members in the same home or far away, and also with services from a distance.
Q2: What’s the future of VR equipment and what’s the next innovation?
Multi-touch is a part of the revolution I think. It gives a surface the capacity to anticipate an action or a need and I think it’s the kind of thing that’s going to be the most accessible in the home, creating a space in the home where people can gather and share information. And it can at the same time be used to manage your household. So the multi-touch, at least a multi-point collaborative surface, will perhaps be the quickest to integrate in homes. Today this sort of thing is prototyped, but the innovation will be in price and accessibility. Although we’re starting to see companies use the technology, it needs to be less expensive and simpler to use to become accessible for the masses.
Q3: Tell me about the work you’re doing with multi-touch computing and VR tactile interfaces.
The multi-touch project is part of an internal research and development project at Immersion. The project is called iliGHT and the objective is to define products and describe usages in the domain of collaborative multi-touch interfaces. One of the first products to come out of this research is a table, a surface, permitting several people to interact collaboratively with 3D information.
The iliGHT table consists of an object that physically resembles a table, with a rear projection and a capacity to detect information and movement from the hand, thumb and fingers. The algorithms we use allow us to go pretty far in the segmentation of hand information. We can fully enter into collaboration around cases based in virtual reality. For starters, you can manipulate graphic portfolios, enlarge images, share and discuss them. Going beyond this, you can manipulate 3D objects.
Q4: What’s the future of virtual reality?
Omnipresence when it comes to designing products. Virtual reality is the missing link to reduce costs, to better understand manufacturing, to design better. We’ve been on the market for 15 years, and we’re feeling the demand accelerating. For me the evolution is that there will be a VR set-up in every product conception chain, permitting people to validate concepts and understand better.
I got the chance to see Christophe again at Laval Virtual and actually play with Cubtile, another one of Immersion’s inventions. Check it out in this video (it’s worth watching through to the augmented reality bit).
How’d you like to have one of those at home?