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Unlocking the Promise of 3D: An Interview With Paul Reynolds

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Unlocking the Promise of 3D: An Interview With Paul Reynolds

DZone Zone Leader Jo Stichbury caught up with Paul Reynolds after his keynote at the Immersed Conference to ask about his plans to revolutionize the 3D design process.

· Mobile Zone ·
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This article is an interview with design visionary Paul Reynolds, who has over 18 years experience in the video games and interactive 3D industry. Paul is CEO and co-founder of Torch, and prior to starting Torch, he was at Magic Leap as Senior Director of SDKs and Applications.

Paul Reynolds says "We can’t truly revolutionize computing without also revolutionizing the creative and development processes used to create applications and experiences."

Torch is a 3D platform that allows anyone to collaboratively build and socialize interactive immersive and spatial concepts. To start, Torch will use mobile AR, AR cloud and AI (especially computer vision) technologies to lower the barrier the average person must overcome to work with 3D. The goal is to have more people collaborating to plan, design, and execute their ideas in 3D, accelerating these technologies into a broader market.

Recently, Paul spoke at the Immersed Conference, exploring how game development tools became the default workflow for immersive applications and why we must evolve the creative development process to unlock the true potential of 3D. I caught up with him after the conference to ask more.

Where do you think the AR/VR world is headed? There seems to be a battle for AR dominance on smartphones between Google (ARCore) and Apple (ARKit) at present. Do you think that will impact standalone headsets like MagicLeap and HoloLens?

Mobile AR is an excellent initial step toward introducing 3D applications and interactions to the consumer market. This step benefits the wearable AR market hardware which will still need to overcome the hardware switching costs. The biggest advantage for mobile AR is there’s no additional hardware requirement, meaning virtually no switching costs with several hundreds of millions of AR-capable smartphones in the market today. That number is projected to exceed four billion in 2020 which is an irresistibly large addressable market. This will fuel exploration into unique, compelling 3D application experiences. Wearable device platforms can benefit from the exploding mobile AR ecosystem, though, by offering a more compelling immersive experience than mobile, while cherry-picking the best ideas and developers out of the early mobile AR market.

What do you think is holding back adoption of AR and VR right now? Is it that the hardware isn’t powerful enough yet, or are our preconceptions of it stopping uptake?

There are simply not enough compelling use cases (utilitarian or otherwise) and therefore few reasons for most people to use these technologies on a regular basis. We see lots of experimentation and exploration going on and in the short term, forward-thinking enterprises and other early adopters will continue to explore productive use cases from the tech. Immersive and spatial computing is in the equivalent of the MS-DOS era right now.

How do you see AR and VR being used beyond its current use in games? How does it go beyond consumer entertainment?

Anything we use a screen for today can be disrupted by AR.=/VR technologies. While entertainment is an important element to building a consumer market, I believe both technologies have much more potential beyond gaming. Much of the association with gaming is due to the fact that most of the workflows for these platforms come from video game development. Specifically, we see education, live event, e-commerce, training, medical, and AEC use cases all the time. How these use cases get rendered into AR varies and is something we’ve been paying close attention to.

We see a few general design approaches to early use cases:

  1. Skeuomorphic apps, or apps that create virtual versions of familiar real-world objects, often at real-world scale, and are best exemplified by furniture placement apps (Ikea is the easiest example) but include some really nice experiences like the Lego AR App Studio);

  2. Enhanced overlay apps where images, icons, arrows and variable colors/shading can guide attention and physical movement (wayfinding and museum apps are great examples of the type); and

  3. Table-top or to-scale experiences like the one from Mapbox. The latter, while similar to the skeuomorphic use case, often serve a different role. For instance, we are currently working on an idea with a local agency that would allow an environmental non-profit to share both a compact visual of the before and after effects of their restoration work and statistics on things like wildlife populations and budget for each project.

Can you share more about the subject of your keynote presentation at the recent Immersed Conference?

We can’t truly revolutionize computing without also revolutionizing the creative and development processes used to create applications and experiences. Everything currently is about writing code with APIs and SDKs designed to create games, or else complex tools for creating 3D models. Not only does this exclude a lot of people from being able to contribute to the evolution of these technologies, it limits what is possible. In my talk, I proposed that we use technologies like AR and AI that allow people not just to consume interactive immersive experiences, but to design and create them. This is what I mean when I say “more power to the people.”

Can you share any insight, having worked inside Magic Leap, on what we can expect when it goes live?

The Magic Leap Lumin SDK, which Torch co-founder Josh Faust and I designed (we also built the team currently working on it), is available now. Once the Creator Edition hardware is more widely available, I believe we will see the beginning of an exciting competition around spatial computing.

Many thanks to Paul for a great interview and insight into the future of AR.  You can find out more about Torch from their website and blog, and if you’d like to discuss the points in the interview or ask any questions, please start a discussion in the article comments!

augmented reality ,virtual reality ,design ,game development ,video games ,3d design ,mobile

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