If there’s one space where the technology hasn’t yet caught the promise, it’s Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). The promise is there, but the delivery, especially in terms of hardware, is lacking. The main focus has been delivering AR/VR experiences via headsets that are clunky at best, and can easily cause disorientation and headaches at worst.
Nevertheless, Apple announced that it is getting in the AR/VR headset game yesterday at its Worldwide Developers Conference with the introduction of Vision Pro.
A great hands-on review of Apple's Vision Pro headset https://t.co/ra2QTIHcfu
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) June 6, 2023
The price tag immediately jumps out at you: $3,500.00. And it won’t be available till early next year. But it’s an Apple product, so it will sell amazingly well, I am sure. And one limitation of other headsets has been addressed; the weight of the Vision Pro is roughly a pound. That’s lighter than competitors, but even a pound of weight on your head will wear you out after a while.
Still, the introduction of the Vision Pro will encourage competitors to up their game as well. And I think the huge $3,500 price tag could be a boon for the space, as it will give competitors more runway in developing their own headset. Instead of a headset, what about a pair of AR/VR glasses that weighs only 6 ounces and costs $899 instead of $3500? The beefy price tag of the Vision Pro, and early 2024 release date, gives competitors more options. And that should ultimately benefit consumers.
So How Could Artificial Intelligence Fit Into AR/VR?
A few weeks ago on Twitter, I spotted a developer with a very interesting application. If you have used ChatGPT before, you may have noticed that you can tell it to give you an answer ‘in the style of’ a particular person or character. You can ask ChatGPT to answer a question for you, and it will. Then you could ask ChatGPT to answer that same question, but ‘answer as a drunken pirate’ and it will.
The developer I saw on Twitter had taken this idea and incorporated it to have ChatGPT output its answers as if it were Steve Jobs. Someone left a comment saying they could see the potential of this, perhaps you could add other people to this, so you could have a virtual conversation with maybe family members. The developer remarked that this idea was exactly what he had in mind, he explained that his father had died at a young age, and he was incorporating his father’s persona into ChatGPT in order to have a ‘virtual conversation’ with his father now that he is an adult. This type of implementation could be seen as very cool or very scary, depending on your point of view.
Nevertheless, this idea of incorporating a real person’s persona via AI and outputting their responses is interesting to explore. If you add in the delivery of the persona via an AR/VR headset, the possibilities are endless:
- A field service worker could have his boss ‘on site’ with him via AI in his AR/VR headset so he can assist the worker in diagnosing a problem with a field unit and walk the worker through how to fix it.
- A teenager could watch a Taylor Swift concert on her birthday, and in between songs, Taylor stops to sing her Happy Birthday!
- A marketer could join a workshop on AI where the presenter can stop the presentation to answer questions from the marketer as the material is being covered.
- A family could watch a movie where the actor can explain more info about how a scene was shot or the director can talk about the plot as the movie is happening, and answer questions that the viewer may have.
The idea would be to take the customized interaction you have in ChatGPT, and move them to the AR/VR world via a visual component such as a persona, similar to a hologram. The benefits of AI would be that the persona of an actor or performer or subject matter expert would be able to respond to the viewer individually, giving them a customized response, if not have an actual ‘conversation’ with them.
The possibilities are endless. think back to this scene from Minority Report:
Here, the ‘ads’ are basically holograms that have scanned the shoppers’ retina to identify who they are, and access their purchase history. Then they could offer customized ads based on what they had already bought. This is pretty limited, a seamless integration of AI with AR/VR could lead to the ads engaging with the shopper in a back and forth in order to provide a truly customized experience.
Long-term, I think AI will have a massive impact on AR and VR, both at the consumer and brand level. I do think the technology needs to mature a bit more before the true potential of this collaboration can be realized. But in another 5-10 years, the AI/AR/VR experience could be truly immersive and truly transformational.