16 Jul 2015
Microsoft ushered society into the future with the introduction of not-so-insignificant technology: Seemingly live 3d holograms. What does this mean for us?
It would seem that we are witnessing confusingly incredible breakthroughs in technology in a couple of area’s in our present day. Some of them have a track record, such as 3d-printing, and 4k HD flat screens. But Microsoft (whether or not they originally invented this or not) seems to be bringing to the table a genuine game-changer in terms interactivity with the digital world.
With the help of Microsoft Kinect (originally introduced in a later stage of Xbox 360’s life cycle), Microsoft saw it prudent to ‘tinker’ with this interactive technology more. So one thing they devised was “HoloLens”. While Kinect focused on detecting the physical movements of players, (which was a something Sony experimented with via “move”), Microsoft Holodesk is allowing users to actually pick up and move 3d objects. While that may or may not seem astronomical, remember that they are just pixels generated by a computer, and they are in our hands. To be fair, (and I confess to be have a very amateur understanding of the technology) it is still under glass. They are essentially (as I understand it), using 2d projections and reflections to bring a “seemingly holographic” presentation before our eyes. It is the same with Microsoft’s HoloLens, although when it was presented at Microsoft’s 2015 BUILD Conference, there was an unavoidably astonishing presentation that took place not through lenses in some glasses, but for the whole audience to see. It was remarkable, in a way that made the HoloLens seem like child’s play in comparison.
What will it mean to have the digital world of 3d freely available in front of us? From my experience with modern video game engines, and subsequently with 3d modeling and rendering, it would seem much indeed. And from a practical end, (some?) of what is created in Augmented Reality can be 3d printed, and this is a growing and developing field as well. But won’t objects look cartoony and fake inside the 3d glasses? Well initially, yes. I think because the processing power to produce real-time objects will need some time to develop, although Nvidia (the world leader in GPU development) would have some ostentatious words to say on the matter.
No, I think what is presently available *to consumers* will be relatively simple, since it is intrinsically linked to Microsoft’s proprietary hardware/software. But eventually, I am thinking hardware will be able to power some real-time photorealistic characters/environments, the likes of which can be seen in some 90’s films (where the 3d polygons were lower and easier to render). But the Graphics Processing Unit’s potential is already powering 4k resolutions in photorealistic games. And Microsoft can again be referred to here for streamlining the industry with their DirectX 12 API, which will make a huge performance leap where DirectX 11 make some powerful aesthetic leaps.
I, for one, am stoked that we have reached this stage in technological comprehension. But as a current student of Biblical Studies, I have to question of the morality of the radically-shifting atmosphere. Is the character of these developers stopping to see the chess-like strategic patterns that should be heeded? Will our technology be our own demise, will it be the technology’s fault, or will it be our own, for programming our own self-delusions?
I am a lover of technology, and a distinct optimist, but I know well enough that we should not walk blindly into our own self-deception. And this may not exclusively be at the digitally-hands of GPU’s and CPU’s. Hackers are still a present-day reality, and they pose a real threat. What happens when we have become so accustomed to these “digital norms” that hackers are able to deceive us into thinking what our augmented reality equipment is presenting is actually for their own devious purposes. Smart people won’t cease to exist in the future, even if our technology seems to be producing a more ‘self-driven’ functionality in our lives. And they won’t skype in to tell us they have hacked us.