Hey, Mixed Reality, Why so Ugly?

I see so much potential in these technologies, but sometimes it gets hard to see that through this muck.

Back in March, the Magic Leap video made me sad for the future.

The new Toybox demo for Oculus Touch hasn’t done much to lift my spirits.

Yeah, the Hololens demo was rad, but can’t we do something better than laser beams and robots?

Why do AR and VR interfaces have to look like mediocre video games, Minority Report, Iron Man, or cartoons? Is it because 3D rendering is hard and expensive to do beautifully? Is it because there aren’t enough designers yet interested in AR and VR? Is it because there aren’t enough women hot for this technology yet? Is it ugly to make sure everyone understands that it’s just a demo?

Last Spring, before the Magic Leap video was released, I went to hear a friend’s choir sing in a little church. One of the pieces they performed was a modern classical composition. The choir encircled the small audience. The music came from all sides and the performance you experienced depended on the position you had in the audience.

At the time, I was working on some VR research, so I naturally imagined an experience where a 3D animation would illustrate the 3D music and I could look around and walk around within the sphere created by the choir. Instead of that, the best we so far seem to be able to get is a wonky walk through Tuscany.

As for augmented reality, it should probably be a calm technology, not popping in front of our eyeballs at inopportune moments, dancing around like a hula girl, and flashing lights at us like a 90s rave. I see so much potential in these technologies, but sometimes it gets hard to see that through this muck.