How the future of VR will be created by everyday people — not just engineers

Having already talked about the importance of inclusive design in creating a VR world — a world where any participant regardless of knowledge or experience can participate in any of the opportunities presented to them, we turn our attention to issues of complexity in current available VR toolsets.

Harkening back to the early days of the internet, tools were limited and had a high barrier to entry — with only computer science majors or those patient enough to write thousands of lines of code being able to make full use of the technologies and innovate. Fairly rapidly — almost at an exponential rate, more sophisticated tool sets were released over the following years, making it easier for virtually everyone to start putting together websites with visual builders and other resources. In terms of e-commerce and online business, we are at a time where an entrepreneur or expert in a particular field can create a website to support their endeavors without very in-depth knowledge of the underlying web technologies by utilizing tools like Squarespace.

This enables people to focus on their field without having to learn complicated methodologies or look to hire someone to manage these aspects for them. Creators are empowered to explore different technologies, interpret them and apply them to their fields in ways that are immediately beneficial for them.

A recent example of this is in machine learning. Recently, all sorts of new machine learning models and use cases having been brought to light, but as it stands you have to be a data scientist to make any progress here — and that’s starting to change thanks to the availability of tools such Google Cloud Machine Learning and TensorFlow. What we are seeing is a host of people that are beginning to make use of machine learning in their individual fields.

The same will soon be happening in VR — as tools become more available and easy to navigate, businesses, artists, and entrepreneurs will begin to utilize VR to add something to their own business models. This is why it was so crucially important for us not to impose super complicated tools on the users of VU.

We wanted our users to be able to freely co-create their experience and define how they want to spend their time in VU best. A significant step above simply buying new avatars, clothes or other aesthetics — VU will give players the ability to really shape their world and have an impact there, much like creative games like Minecraft.

The challenge was to enable such player-driven creation in a simple enough way that even first-time users can get started without being forced to leave the environment or seek help or instructions. Essentially, we charged ourselves with creating a platform that enables an extremely wide set of features and tools and, unlike many of the other games that claim similar functionality, allows for a very high level of sophistication and detail for the user to express themselves with. The controls should feel natural and visceral, and so we have opted for mostly gesture-controlled interactions, allowing a user to scale an object’s size by ‘stretching’ it, for example. We feel like we’ve succeeded in that and the feedback we’re getting back from demos is reinforcing that opinion. Common feedback is that of a feeling of godly power due to the ease and range of controllable aspects of the VU world.

By enabling every user to experience the ability to shape the world around them fully, we begin to unlock a new period of exponential growth in creativity and use cases in terms of VR. Users will be able to create and express themselves at a very intimate and deep level because of the low barrier to entry and high level of detail at their disposal, and that’s where the magic happens — suddenly the creation is swept away by the community at large as new ideas are poured in and new concepts, ideas, implementations and environments that developers alone could never have imagined, are born.

Ciaran Foley is CEO of Ukledo and Immersive Entertainment, Inc. a Southern California virtual reality software company developing a new virtual engagement platform called Virtual Universe (VU).


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