A day does not go by that another article is not published right here on Medium purporting to explain why virtual/augmented reality (VAR) systems/software/applications have failed to spark much interest in the general population. Adoption rates have been way slower than many had predicted and widespread adoption seems decades away if it is ever going to happen. Many theories have been suggested and while they each have some element of truth to them they all fail to provide a completely satisfactory account of the issue. I have been puzzling over this problem in my head myself for months now. Given the bulk of the populations seemingly endless fascination with all things tech and the media’s incessant hyping of VAR as the next big thing you would think VAR systems would have exploded in popularity by now. We should already be in the price war phase with knock off brands flooding the market and VR gaming addicts passing out in neighborhood VR arcades from two week binges of non stop VR MMRPG gaming sessions. Meanwhile AR should be an option in all new cars sold and a standard feature on new smart phones. To date, none of that has come to pass.
If you are a regular reader you no doubt are aware of my recent breakup with the simulation hypothesis in favor of the sexy new kid on the block the aestivation hypothesis. In truth, I may have been a bit hasty with my affections. I have not felt that same spark of fascination yet with AeH as I have with SH1 and its many variants over the past few months. I do still think that time will come but for now I must return to the classic hypothesis of old and expound upon it one more time as I wonder if it might not have something to say about this current VAR conundrum.
One of the most attractive features of any new technology is its novelty. Of course usefulness, ease of use, reliability, etc. are all important but for the average joe on the street to take a chance on a new technology usually requires something more than the basics. In fact I would argue that those basics have become the minimum standard of entry to the game. They are a necessary but not sufficient condition to even be considered as an option by most. There are just too many options for software/hardware that essentially do the same things, deliver the same end result if you will. The one thing which is virtually (no pun intended) guaranteed to spark interest and hasten adoption is novelty. This is where augmented and especially virtual reality would seem to have a massive edge over any other new technology entering the market today. However, consider if the simulation hypothesis, specifically SH1 (ourselves and the universe are 100% simulated) is true. In that case we are already living in a virtual reality. In fact we ourselves are virtual constructs living inside this virtual reality. Therefore virtual reality systems would be one of the least novel things one could imagine for they would simply represent another “form” of what we think of as actual reality. There is zero novelty in that and one could argue that they would be less interesting then our actual/virtual reality because as virtual constructs ourselves we would necessarily be less adept at creating real seeming simulations (virtual worlds) than the simulators who created us. Why would anyone want to play/live/visit a virtual world created by inferior virtual beings when they could continue to play/live/visit a virtual world (our current one) created by superior beings?
I see so many answers to that but I am tired and need sleep. It will have to wait but looking forward to your comments.