The Ultimate Guide for XR Evangelists
Getting Up to Speed at Great Speed
Back in 2004 I was hired by Philip Rosedale to be the Evangelist for the virtual world of Second Life. To succeed I did whatever it took — studied and read, ran around the virtual world, built teams of passionate users and generally preached the gospel of the metaverse. Today there are tens of thousands of evangelists and they’re the life-blood of VR/MR/AR — the future of new realities depends on equipping them to succeed.
I’ve collected a list of great resources over the years and after sharing too often and inefficiently by email it makes sense to share and maintain it on Medium. This should be a living document — if you want me to add to it please comment and share with other Evangelists for their input.
First things first — What is XR? There is a lack of clarity in the field of “realities” so let’s try to clarify before we go further.
Milgram’s Reality-Virtuality Continuum is the best way to locate and identify the X in XR.
XR entered the vernacular in 2016 defined in Wikipedia as a superset of various types of “Reality”, with “X” as the variable, either as a hybrid or superset of forms:
“ X Reality (XR) consists of technology-mediated experiences that combine digital and biological realities. It encompasses a wide spectrum of hardware and software, including sensory interfaces, applications, and infrastructures, that enable content creation for virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), augmented reality (AR), cinematic reality (CR), and more. With these tools, users generate new forms of reality by bringing digital objects into the physical world and bringing physical world objects into the digital world.”
The following interview with Qualcomm’s VP of Product Management Tim Leland spells out the landscape of XR (in this context Extended Reality) and hurdles to adoption.
Jesse Damiani lays out the possibility space well in his 2018 Forbes piece VR and AR Mark the Greatest Revolution in the History of UX/UI Design
Defined by Wikipedia as” a computer technology that uses Virtual reality headsets, sometimes in combination with physical spaces or multi-projected environments, to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that simulate a user’s physical presence in a virtual or imaginary environment.”
Defined by Wikipedia as “a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data”
Defined by Wikipedia as “the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Mixed reality takes place not only in the physical world or the virtual world, but is a mix of reality and virtual reality, encompassing both augmented reality and augmented virtuality via immersive technology.”
What is Mixed Reality? Great Medium post by researcher / VC Mark Billinghurst
Will Mixed Reality Replace Phone Calls? — also by Mark Billinghurst — valuable exploration that uses real applications to enhance our understanding of the term.
Mixing Realities for Collaborative Play by MR practitioner and pioneer Evo Heyning
“The Fourth Transformation” (2016) Book by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. No discussion of MR is complete without this text. Scholarly, impassioned, forward-looking and rather definitive. Period.
IMMERSIVE ENTERTAINMENT /HYPER-REALITY
Similar to the above but less high-brow and skewing towards more mobile and location-based audience. A working definition of Hyperreality is “a new type of entertainment and new way to explore different realities; it works by combining real-world physicality with video games, movies and stories”.
This article gives a great overview of the category and description of 6 leading companies including The Void, Two Bit Circus, HyperReality Experience, Zero Latency, Spaces and Dreamscape Immersive Entertainment
VIRTUAL REALITY HIGH — LEVEL / VISIONARY TALKS
Philip Rosedale What is the Metaverse?(45 mins)
Rosedale on VR in Future of storytelling video (6 mins)
Chris Milk’s Famous “VR as the Ultimate Empathy Machine” TED Talk
Alex Kipman “A Futuristic Vision of the Age of Holograms” — Hololens Preview TED Talk
Kevin Kelly’s May 2016 WIRED cover story about Magic Leap
State of VR/AR Industry Project: USC School of Cinematic Arts / New Amsterdam Media: An extraordinarily well-done and exhaustive view of the industry circa 2016
Goldman Sachs’s VR Report 2016: Becoming slightly dated but as professional and rigorous as one would expect
Digicapital 2017: Comprehensive and full of data
San Francisco’s VR Gold Rush Heats Up — a good summary of all the players
Enterprise Adoption of VR from Cognizant
This is bafflingly difficult to comprehend with 8 competing and overlapping standards. Rather than list them all, let’s begin with a comprehensive Overview of the various emerging standards.
CONTENT CREATION TOOLS
3D Studio Max
3D Object Marketplaces
Google VR Core
Apple AR Kit
OPEN / USER-GENERATED SOCIAL WORLDS
Kevin Kelly’s May 2016 Wired cover story on Magic Leap “Inside the World’s Most Secretive Startup” made clear how high the stakes are for social VR.
“Only a few companies will dominate the VR networks because, as is so common in networks, success is self-reinforcing. The bigger the virtual society becomes, the more attractive it is. And the more attractive, the bigger yet it becomes. These artificial-reality winners will become the largest companies in history, dwarfing the largest companies today by any measure”
“All that said, it was not the reality of artificial reality that surprised me most. It was how social it is. The best experiences I had in VR or MR involved at least one other person. More people made it better. In fact, just a few more people made it exponentially better. It’s a network effect: The joy of VR is proportional to the square of the number of people sharing it. That means VR will be the most social medium yet. More social than social media is today.”
Whether these worlds will be User Generated or not is open for debate but I have trouble imagining they won’t. That said, here are some of the contenders for the big prize.
Second Life (launched in 2003, still has over a million monthly users and an in-world economy of $500M USD)
SANSAR by Linden Lab, creators of Second Life, applying 15 years of experience as the world’s biggest, user-created virtual world.
Facebook Spaces — While not technically open / user-generated in the same sense as the previous worlds, the social construct is very similar and the potential scale of the project is staggering
VRchat — Lets you create, publish, and explore virtual worlds with other people from around the world.
DECENTRALAND — Open World raised $26M in Ethereum crypto-currency ICO in August 2017. They imagine a world in which land is valued by money, thus attention can be measured and monetized in a democratic way (theoretically).
Finally, a list of the top social VR apps on Steam, ranked by users.ESSAYS
(Please suggest your favorites here)
The Age of Superpowers by Avi Bar Ze’ev
VR: A Telescope for the Mind: How We See Changes How We Think: (2016) by Reuben Steiger
2017 VR Conferences — UploadVR’s list
Versions at New Museum — Creativity-focused VR conference in NY
VR/AR World at Techxlr8 — June 18–20th 2018 in London
GREAT CONFERENCES (that aren’t tradeshows but relevant and inspiring nonetheless)
HISTORICAL FORECASTS AND WORK IN VR
Metaverse Roadmap Summit Report (2006): Forecast and scenario-mapping of future of VR and virtual worlds
(a playlist of projects created by virtual world development firm Millions of Us from 2006–2010) — a fairly deep collection of both portfolio pieces as well as general projects from the era with a good archive of lectures, creative work etc.
VR Industry 2017 on Trello — excellent, highly categorized profiles of companies
VR Industry Landscape Infographic (Q1 2017)
AR Industry Landscape Infographic (Venture Reality Fund)
The VRARA : Exceptionally well-organized and global in reach they offer meetups and events through local chapters, maintain the largest company database of over 3800 companies across the entire XR spectrum.
New World Notes — Wagner James Au began this blog in 2004 and it serves as the longest-running chronicle of virtual worlds and societies — rigorous and comprehensive.
Gabriella Mirabella’s “Up Next” Podcast
Virtual Reality — largest Facebook Group
Augmented Reality — good Facebook Page
AR / VR and Virtual Worlds — LinkedIn Group
PATTERN5 Facebook Group
VR “Influencers” List — Onalytica
VC Funds (primarily focused on the category)
LISTS OF FUNDED COMPANIES
CORPORATE INVESTMENTS IN VR
Companies Investing Most Heavily in VR (A hybrid of VC Funds and Corporate Investments
VR CONTENT CREATION COMPANIES
This list is (and always will be) incomplete. Categorization is one challenge as size, geography etc. My suggestion is that we list a few of the better known firms and then link to good directories such as this Trello board.
VR GAME STUDIOS
VR/AR at MIT
MIT Media Lab — Fluid Interfaces Group
PUBLICLY FUNDED LABS
New York Economic Development Commission’s VR/AR Lab Fueled by $6 million investment by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME), the lab will be the first publicly-funded VR/AR facility in the country to support startups, talent development, and research and innovation.
True Names by Vernor Vinge. Predictive and downright chilling, yet hopeful
Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The Circle by David Eggers
Please add more in Fiction or Non Fiction categories
I, Avatar by Mark Meadows
Making Synthetic Worlds by Edward Castranova
Brainstorm (1983) Director by Bladerunner art director Douglas Trumbull
West World — original 1973 movie, written by Michael Crichton and starring Yul Brynner
Lawnmower Man (1992)
Strange Days (1995) Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
Existenz (1999 ) Directed by David Cronenberg
The Matrix (1999)Directed by the Wachowski brothers and needs no introduction
The Minority Report (2002) Directed by Steven Spielberg and based on short story by Philip K. Deck (UX / subject matter)
Iron Man (2008) Directed by John Favreau for UX, not subject matter)
Avatar (2009 ) Directed by James Cameron who created the virtual world in which the film was
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
FILMS : DOCUMENTARY
My Second Life: Molotov Alva and the Search for the Creator (2008) Directed by Douglas Gayeton
Second Skin (2009)
VR: The Movie (2017) A view on the past, present and future of the subject and industry.
Caprica (TV Series 2009–2010)
STAGE AND THEATRICAL
This category should include immersive theatrical experience influenced by XR
Sleep No More by Punchdrunk
Believe Your Eyes by Punchdrunk — Single audience VR piece w/ supporting actor
“Draw Me Close” at National Theatre in London
Third Rail Theatre Group
VR and its close cousin, AR cannot be viewed as isolated phenomenae — rather they represent the convergence of a suite of technologies that alter the way we see and interact with information. From the lenses required to display complex optics to the powerful chips that run the simulations, these technologies intersect to create a whole that is far more significant than the sum of its parts. We might call this combination of technologies the XSCOPE — a way of describing how seeing differently lets us change the world.