Streaming for AR

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Overview - Real-Time Streaming for AR Headsets: Solving Problems

Our research shows that low computational power of AR/VR headsets is a real problem both to tech companies and to consumers. The low computational power of the headsets has three major effects: the "tethering" problem, quality of content, and cost to the consumer. While most major companies in the business of AR/VR recognize and are working to correct these problems (tethering, quality of content, and cost), none seem to be directly attempting to solve the issue of computational capacity. Instead, the companies we researched have singled out particular side effects of low computational power in headsets and are treating them as separate issues.

THE TETHERING PROBLEM:

User experience of AR/VR (and, therefore, a company's ability to market user experience as a selling point) is affected by the low computational power of headsets. One reason for this is their low processing speed makes using a headset, by necessity of external sensors, a "tethered" experience. In an interview for Design News, John Riccitiello (the CEO of Unity), pointed out that limiting a user's VR experience to a confined space "essentially defeats the purpose" of immersion.

Increasing the computational capacity of headsets would allow for the improvement of GIS technology as it pertains to AR/VR or other opportunities to free the user. For example, Chirp Microsystems is attempting to use ultrasound sensors to track the position of the user without tethering them to cords or external sensors. Esri has also teamed up with other start-ups to solve the GIS problem but they are reportedly not far along in this process.

Even if a company could solve the mobility problem, current models of VR headsets "lack the processing power" of larger computer desktops. This directly affects the quality of content of mobile VR headsets. Several companies (like Sony and Intel) are working to improve the resolution of their VR headsets. Varjo, a start-up founded by former project managers from Nokia and Microsoft, is aiming to create a headset that will have "human eye resolution".

Magic Leap, the company who has contracts with Lucasfilm and Pokemon and has made a name for themselves in creating AR games for smartphones, is almost infamously secretive about product development. The same can be said for Facebook. Though both companies have a vested interest in developing AR/VR technology, it is not clear whether any product created by either of these developers would even require a headset.

COST TO CONSUMERS:

The third area in which higher computational power of headsets would be a boon to companies (and consumers) interested in the technology is the cost to the consumer. Right now, in order to experience AR/VR with high-quality content, a user must purchase a gaming computer, sensors, cords, and the headset itself because the headset alone does not have the computational capacity to do the work of the computers, the sensors, and display a high-resolution picture. Boosting the computational capacity would certainly allow the technology to advance more quickly to improve the quality of content and also circumvent the necessity of purchasing expensive add-ons.

CONCLUSION:

Low computational power is definitely a problem in the world of AR/ VR technology as it limits the capacity of the headset itself. This leads to an increased cost for the consumer, limited mobility, and decreases the quality of both content and experience. While there are a number of well-known companies (Facebook, Google, Samsung, Esri, Magic Leap and Oculus), none are treating low computational capacity as their primary focus. Therefore, there is certainly a need for a device that could boost the computational power of an AR/ VR headset.
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