A Virtual Reality Father’s Day Wish

As I sit here today on Father’s Day with my family out of town, I’m left to wish that Virtual Reality would hurry up. Let me explain.

Virtual Reality is here, now, just not where we need it to be or spread far enough, but it will be. VR is not the Jetsons’ flying car or Star Trek’s teleportation; it’s real, it exists, and in the months and years to come, humanity will change forever, mostly for the better.

A year and a half ago I saw, in VR, a baby in a swing by a fireplace at the holidays. I could walk around and see the scene from any direction, in 3D VR. Skype and then FaceTime were very cool, transformative technology even, but trust me, you’ve seen nothing yet. VR is going to change the way we communicate.

When my youngest daughter and I were talking about this, she said “Dad, when people find out about this, they are going to freak out, it’s so awesome. True fact.” (She and I both know the “true” is not necessary, like wet water, but she says “true fact” when it is an awesome fact. I think it’s cute, so humor us here.)

Now, before I get ahead of myself and get called to the mat by my tech brethren, let me admit that it still has a way to go before it hits prime time. Hardware speeds need to continue to improve, and they will, but mostly what is needed now is content. The big players are developing, but software that allows everyone to create in VR is the missing link. Technology never just magically appears, it always happens in fits and starts, and takes longer than most people realize to “make it.” Building blocks need to be in place, and often that takes decades, not years.

  • There are now 2 billion smartphones world wide
  • The first Apple iPhone debuted in 2007
  • Facebook was founded in 2004
  • Skype was released in 2003
  • Netscape went public in 1995
  • IBM had a mobile phone that could send email in 1994
  • Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web in 1989

The building blocks for VR are all in place. The first science fiction mentions of Virtual Reality date back to the 1950s, MIT was working on VR in the 1970s, Atari had the first VR lab in 1982, and a real stab at the technology dominated the early 1990s. And while teams around the world have continued to work in gaming, 3D animation, motion capture and computer vision -to name a few continuously developing technologies- it was not until August of 2012 and the Oculus kickstarter campaign that VR re-entered the popular vernacular.

So, here we are, after decades of preparation, on the cusp of the next big computing leap. The technology (hardware and software) is ready, the public and their pocket computers are ready, investors are ready, and big company budgets are devoted to making it happen sooner rather than later.

I’m not guessing about this; my work as a Partner at Boost VC has afforded me the opportunity to speak with hundreds of VR companies, see countless demos (including Oculus at Facebook’s campus), speak with industry titans Google, Samsung, Dreamworks, Pixar and companies whose names you don’t yet know, but will, as well as talk to top venture capitalists we are fortunate to speak with on a daily basis.

VR encompasses a number of things, from gaming and entertainment to education, therapy, communication and enterprise. But today, I’m wishing for the presence provided in the future versions of communication.

I’m doing more than wishing, though, I’m actively trying to make it happen. Along with my partners at Boost VC, Adam Draper and Brayton Williams, I’m investing in VR today, right now. In fact, half of the upcoming Tribe 6 companies at Boost VC will be VR; we see the impact this technology is going to have.

The irony is not lost on me that I’m writing a blog post about VR. I perhaps should take out my quill and ink and send correspondence via the Pony Express to interested parties, but since this is the medium of today, just let me say this: I can’t explain it, go find someone to show it to you, today, and you too will understand. Find a developer with an Oculus or Samsung Gear, order a Google Cardboard, attend a VR event- just go and seek it out. And, if you are building the next generation of VR, apply to Boost VC.

The future is here, and when the world sees it, they too will think it is awesome. True fact.