I had an amazing experience today. I led 250 people in wingsuits off the ledge of a helicopter in Moab, Utah. I hiked with them near a huge waterfall in rural Vietnam. I brought them along on a low-altitude drone-flight skimming over a Nevada solar power plant. I seated them courtside at the Butler vs. Villanova NCAA basketball game. And, I fought with them to survive a zombie apocalypse.
This all happened from a hotel conference room in Las Vegas at CES 2017 — and was possible thanks to emerging virtual reality (VR) and merged reality technology that I believe offers the world extraordinary promise.
For half a century now, we’ve divided the world into the digital and the physical. That boundary is going away fast and merging in new exciting ways.
Video is no longer just something that sits on a flat surface and that you watch at arm’s length or from across the room. The technology is evolving at such a breakneck pace — with new developments seemingly every day — that I like to step back to see where we are. And, where we’re headed.
When I look into a VR headset, I see new worlds of opportunity for travel, work, and play. I believe VR will be about far more than playing games. I believe it will radically enrich people’s enjoyment of sports and entertainment by transporting them into the middle of the action. Through the combination of advanced drones, cameras and computer technology, I believe VR has the potential to save lives during search and rescue missions or after natural disasters; and the potential to make millions of people’s workplaces safer by letting employees conduct dangerous inspections from a safe distance.
With any new technology transition, hardware is typically in the market first before the rest of the ecosystem needed to drive the new technology mainstream. VR is no different. What has limited VR from mass adoption so far is available content.
We are now seeing an expansion of VR content and this content will create incredible amounts of data. For example, Intel® 360 replay technology uses 38 high-definition 5k cameras to capture the action on a basketball court or playing field. This produces a massive amount of data — about 2 terabytes of data per minute.
Thanks to our company’s relentless pursuit of Moore’s Law — paired with our computer vision technology, Intel RealSense™ depth sensing technology and volumetric video efforts — I believe Intel will be at the center of unlocking the potential of all this data.
The implications? Unlocking the data will transform industries and enhance almost every aspect of our lives – be it education, entertainment, or other experiences like travel.
The very definition of “reality” is changing. We are now developing what we call “merged reality” — in which the real world and the virtual worlds are seamlessly combined. I mean much more so than games like Pokemon Go. I mean Intel’s Project Alloy letting headset wearers use their real hands, rather than controllers, to manipulate virtual objects. Or, letting Alloy wearers walk around in a live-action, non-CGI video. Or, an auto company’s global engineering team simultaneously walking around the engine they are developing as if they were in the same room.
Yes, there’s been some hype, as there often is with new technologies. But I truly believe virtual and merged reality are going to exceed our expectations. They are a new frontier for human experiences — and I think this will not just be a technology tweak, but instead a leap.
I can’t wait to see where these technologies will take us – and I invite you to join us for the ride.
Brian Krzanich is the chief executive officer of Intel Corporation.
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