The Holodeck is other people

I spoke at a conference session today in which the focus was on Virtual Reality. And I realized that there was at least one fundamental difference between my talk and all of the other talks in the session.

Everyone else was primarily concerned with what you see when you enter a virtual world, and whether you can see it with high quality. Some were concerned about realistic rendering, some about scientific data, and some about the fidelity and detailed modeling of objects in the virtual world.

Which brought home to me that my interest is not really about creating an alternate world, but rather in finding new ways for people to hang out with each other. To me the real attraction is always other people. If you and I enter the Holodeck together, we may discover (or invent) new ways to communicate with each other. And that’s the real power-up.

As long as the alternate world seems real and solid enough that you can feel you are really there (so issues like latency are still very important), the thing that really matters in our project is not the space itself, but the other people who are there with you.

4 Responses to “The Holodeck is other people”

  1. Dax Pandhi says:

    Very interesting. Would’ve loved to be there.

    What are your thoughts about the HoloLens? It seems to be built with a strong group component where two or more individuals can connect with a VR or mixed reality scenario.

    On a separate yet related note, have you ever programmed it in your lab’s holodeck where one can go in and say “Computer, Tea: earl grey, hot.”?

  2. admin says:

    I think the HoloLens is great! It will be fun to compare the two approaches: The VR approach of rebuilding reality from scratch (with lower fidelity for now, but potentially infinite variability), with the AR approach of overlaying graphics over literal reality. It could turn out that a mix of the two approaches works very well.

    I have not yet programmed our holodeck to respond to that. Could you please come to our lab and do that? We would be very grateful if you could make it so. 🙂

  3. John Murray says:

    I really applaud this, and it’s yet another reason why I admire your work and contributions. VR seems sometimes to be a proxy for the interests of computer graphics manufacturers, rather than an opportunity to improve our lives.

    Will be following up with an email — been a while 🙂

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