A year into founding Advir.co I have been speaking about Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality at 32 events ranging from conferences like Tech Open Air Berlin, NOAH, VR World London, to corporate events like PwC or Orange and random meet ups in San Francisco.
Generally, I have been positively surprised the enthusiasm of the audience – they love hearing about these new technologies and love the demos. Specifically Mixed Reality, which can be experienced through Microsoft Hololens or the Meta devices. Mixed Reality devices understand your surroundings and overlays digital information onto of your environment.
However, most people do not yet realise how ubiquitous these technologies are going to become over the next decade. People think it’s fun tech for games or entertainment but they don’t see it as an inevitable evolution. To be fair, we can’t blame them – it is our job to evangelise it, and current demos are still fairly gimmicky.
Most people don’t yet see Mixed Reality as an inevitable evolution.
However, at Advir, we believe that mixed reality will become the new interface to interact with content, progressively replacing the smartphone as the ‘main interface’ as it is today. The reason we are convinced of that, is not because of the current hype, the billions of dollar invested by leading tech companies, or because it is a great piece of technology. It is for a much more basic reason.
Ultimately, people don’t care about shinny tech if it doesn’t deliver value. And something everyone values more than anything is time. Time is the most important commodity, because it has a fixed supply. No matter who you are, where you live, how rich you are, you only get 24h a day. As Gary Vaynerchuk explains, companies like Amazon and Uber (to only name a few) are selling time.
Fixed supply of time produces information overload: too much to consume, too little time. Your friends trying to reach you on social media, advertisers trying to capture your attention, your bank calling you to verify a transaction, your work colleagues over email and Slack, and notifications popping from your apps. As Kevin Kelly puts it in his bestseller “Inevitable”, the abundance of information created a scarcity of attention. And this keeps getting worse – between 2016 and 2017, humankind created more data than we had created over the past 5,000 years. Over the next couple of years, the ‘cognitive revolution’ is going to increase this exponentially.
The abundance of information created a scarcity of attention.
The cognitive revolution is led by Artificial Intelligence (AI) making everything smart around us. There will be 50B active sensors in the world by 2020, from the ones in your phone, cars, but also watches, fridges, and soon shoes, doors and pillows, feeding data to an AI to extract results and help us humans make better or quicker decisions. The by-product of this ‘AI-powered advice’ is even more information for us to process!
As a result, we are spending more and more time consuming content on our smartphones, today’s interface. In the US for example, the average smartphone user spent an hour more on his device in 2017 than he did in 2013, and increasing exponentially. Can you imagine adding another hour by 2020, and another by 2022? By 2030 we would be glued to our our smartphones 12h a day.
Therefore, we need a new interface to cope with this data overload. We believe the smartphone won’t be the one, because it requires your undivided attention to focus on its screen. Instead, we believe that mixed reality is that interface. By overlaying content on top of reality, it enables you to live your life and see relevant content when needed, but doesn’t require undivided attention. It will relieve our stress and cognitive load, and save us precious time.
We need a new interface to cope with this data overload.
Don’t believe me? Look at the recent rise of audio content: Musicall.y, podcasts, but also virtual assistants like Google Home or Amazon Echo. Why are podcasts becoming popular again? It’s not because of new technology. It’s because while listening to a podcast, you can cook, go shopping, or do emails. You can’t do that with videos, because their require your undivided attention.
It’s the same for mixed reality. Mixed reality is the visual equivalent to audio. Its utility is going to increase massively over the next decade as people get more and more busy, overloaded with information and will aim to free up some of their valuable time, by using the right interface.
This won’t be the first ‘interface change’ – history repeats itself. Very few people believed that we would switch from desktop computer to smartphones. Yet, we surrendered the fixed interface to a mobile one, to be able to consume information on the go and – guess what – save time. At Advir, we don’t find it very hard to believe that over the next decade, we will undergo another transition lead by mixed reality, and we can’t wait!
I am the founder of Advir.co, the first monetisation platform for immersive technologies. Besides VR/AR/MR and adtech, I talk about behaviour changes, the metaverse, and building the future. To stay in touch with me, follow me on Twitter @samhuber or checkout my personal website samhuber.com.