So what’s the real reality of mixed reality?

Views on the viability of Virtual Space are decidedly mixed. Recent research from the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work shows that half of respondents think AR will be considered a mature technology that is accepted, established and in widespread use in 18 months to three years. The other half believe it will be in three to five years.

So which view of Virtual Space is the right one?

Perhaps, as Zhou Enlai purportedly quipped when asked about the impact of the French Revolution, “it’s too early to tell.”

Bottom line: If you think glimmers of virtual reality like Pokémon Go! or even Second Life were a joke, remember, people thought the same thing about cloud computing 20 years ago.

Mixed view of Virtual Space

After years of pilots and false starts, VR and AR can sometimes be seen as a “solution in search of a market,” a “diminished reality” in which glitzy possibilities disappear in a speculative buzz. And VR technologies still pose some major limitations, including headsets that completely block the user’s view, experiences that induce nausea, and spatial challenges that, among other things, may result in users running into walls.

This is where AR technologies have an advantage, as the HMDs allow for a continuous view of both the virtual and real worlds. Unlike with VR devices, AR headsets allow users freedom of motion and the ability to remain productive with other tasks. That said, most HMD technologies – whether VR or AR – are still limited. Let's be honest: Does prancing around for hours at a time with a two-pound device strapped to your head sound like a good time? Probably not.

Plenty of observers think Virtual Space won’t really come of age until the likes of Tim Cook or Mark Zuckerberg release HMDs that are as sleek, elegant, interoperable, affordable and untethered (with a battery that lasts all day) as the iPhone was in the mobile phone market of 2007. However, it’s getting more difficult to ignore the growing number of companies generating real results from investments in Virtual Space. And when you hear Mr. Cook or Mr. Zuckerberg talk about their visions for Virtual Space, you’d do well to pay attention. With a nod to Wayne Gretzky’s adage about hockey and pucks, you’ll know it’s exactly where they are skating.

Bottom line: If you think glimmers of virtual reality like Pokémon Go! or even Second Life are a joke, remember, people thought the same thing about cloud computing 20 years ago.

The world’s first VR-gamified city

Download “WellTown” to your VR headset and take a trip to the creative heart of Wellington, New Zealand. The city was the first to create a full digital twin of itself, which helped hasten rebuild efforts following the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake in 2016.

Immersion into the mind-blowingly experiential

How about a travel agency for holograms of your virtual self? Meow Wolf repurposed an old bowling alley in New Mexico into a safe space for immersion. Like Disneyland designers before them, the artists are passionate about creating blended spaces where the technology isn’t as important as its contribution to the holistic experience. Listen to our CFoW guest podcast.

Minecraft makes makers

Gen Z kids – and lots of adults too – the world over have found a workbench to hone building and making skills in the endlessly blocky and fun virtual worlds of Minecraft. It teaches creativity, problem solving and teamwork – all skills necessary for the future of work.

What was the address where you raised your children?

In the future, personal memory curators will use Virtual Space – with the help of an “advance directive” memory statement – to facilitate images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a familiar time or environment from the past. Pilots are already under way in senior centers to help the elderly with pre-onset dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

A second life for “Second Life”?

This is the OG platform for Virtual Space, and a learning ground for all the positives and (deeply, profoundly) negatives the medium could spawn. Owner Linden Lab recently sold “Sansar,” its VR-compatible virtual world, to San Francisco-based tech company Wookey Project Corp.

USC School of Cinematic Arts

Want to be a VR journey builder in the future of work? It’s all happening here – now – in the state-of-the art immersion labs at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, funded by entertainment luminaries like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.