Live creation of VR/AR experiences

This post was written for the Live 2017 workshop at the ACM SIGPLAN conference on Systems, Programming, Languages and Applications: Software for Humanity (SPLASH).

Moatboat is a way to create experiences in virtual reality and augmented reality using your voice. Our goal is simple: “Whatever you say, happens.” It works like this:

Using Moatboat in augmented reality.

Tens of thousands of people have tried our first experimental release so far, and we’re now hard at work on the next version.

I’ll start by summarizing our vision and how Moatboat works. Then I’ll outline our motivations and go into more detail…


Virtual reality makes you feel like you’ve been transported into another world. People call this feeling presence.

Augmented reality has presence too, but it’s inside-out: it feels like virtual objects have been transported into the real world.

I used to be a VR skeptic. I’ve grudgingly progressed from Bret Victor-ian levels of concern, to strong enthusiasm for the future of VR/AR as a computing platform. The key, for me, is seeing them as a stepping stone towards an improved reality.

Not VR, not AR, just R. — Bret Victor

VR/AR is simply the next step on our way towards a…


Fifty years ago, the pioneers of personal computing — people like Ivan Sutherland, Alan Kay, Seymour Papert, and Doug Engelbart — were inventing a future where every adult and child in the world could use a laptop to augment their intellect.

Sutherland showed how people could animate digital images to think visually in realtime. Kay suggested everyday people could use computer simulations as a way to think and communicate. Papert invented a language that children could use to create computer graphics. Engelbart presented The Mother of All Demos.

But at some point, like a piece of paper caught in a…

Michael Johnston

Augmenting humans.

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