Virtual reality becomes reality (The Next Big Thing, Episode 6)
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Virtual reality is reality.
I'm a believer.
And the next wave of 4K TVs will be something to watch.
Let's get a look at the next big thing.
Hello, and welcome.
I'm Brian Cooley, in search of the next big thing.
From playing games to war games, virtual reality headgear has become absolutely reality.
Rift, Morpheus, and Glyph.
They sound like three brothers from a fantasy novel, but it's a fantasy come true.
Not just watching, being there.
That's the essence of virtual reality.
It brings me into this world that I've never been in.
You can actually.
Your hands holding an Xbox controller.
That's kind of cool.
They want to create a world that feels real, that sounds real.
I was able to interact with a knight, with swords, with a crossbow.
It's essentially two independent displays and they render different angles of the game, so you get a 3D effect.
With a wide angle field of view.
What you get is that sense of immersion, which is what CR is going.
It's using Texas Instruments based DLP technology to project right on my retina.
I wish everybody at home was able to see.
What I saw was extremely promising.
Now popular fascination with the basic idea of virtual reality goes all the way back to the late 80s on Star Trek The Next Generation.
Remember Geordi La Forge had the vision head gear?
Then flash forward to the mid 90s, and something called VRML, Virtual Reality Markup Language, and it was going to make webpages a 360 immersive experience.
Still waiting for that.
But today the dream definitely lives.
Take a look at Oculus Rift.
Fair to say it's the darling of the bunch right now.
It creates this 360 immersive media world.
Based on panning video as you move.
So the concept here is that you don't have screens literally all around your head, but the video is passed around through your immediate vision and your periphery by sensing the motion of your head and body.
That's using right now, a camera that is external and LED emitters on the headgear to index with it.
In the future we can expect all of that to be built into the headgear itself and it will continue to get smaller.
Now, Sony's Project Morpheus looks similar, but it's a little different in its connectivity.
It cables into a PS4, obviously.
It's a Sony thing.
And there of course it grafts in to existing motion control and tracking technology that that platform already brings in as well as a base of developers who are already tied into that motion and tracking.
So, it's got a leg up in a sense.
Now clearly the initial use cases for both of these would come to mind as serious gamers.
But if you really wanna find the hot spot for these, I think you have to look at what are dryly referred to as vertical markets.
For example, look what the Norwegian army is doing with Oculus Rift and cameras mounted around tanks.
A way for tankers to get a completely unobstructed view from outside their vehicle while remaining protected inside of it.
[foreign speech] It's very useful when you have to close all your hatches.
Or imagine virtual reality head gear for an online meeting.
And finally, for the first time.
Feeling like you are there, as opposed to the very clumsy technologies we use today that are not so much present, as barely present.
Think about going to a hotel without going there.
Take a look at a room in real detail before you book.
Look at open houses and maps before you decide which few you actually want to drive to.
Go to a car dealership and actually get inside a car and look around the cabin before going down to take that test drive and I need not even mention the possibilities with telemedic.
And it's called a virtual retinal display.
Finally there is Avegant Glyph.
What they do here is more about the attacking the media world.
Giving you a full, immersive screen for media in front of your eyes, but it's not one where you look around and move through it.
More, it tracks with your vision.
This is about going after the world that has already been in love IMAX theatres, big curve TV's and Beats audio.
Kind of mesh those three together.
It's one that has a lot more immediate acceptance compared to the other two that are still trying to build and educate the consumer market.
Now all of these products are in about the same phase of their development.
They're heading off to where new technologies go to live or die.
Is the hands of developers, who now must take the ball and run with it over the next year or so, to create compelling, understandable use cases, to bring these to as many consumers' attention as possible.
Back in pursuit of the next big thing.
I'm Brian Cooley.
Let's talk mobile.
Now a lot of you, I imagine, have just made the jump to a 4G phone or maybe you're just about to.
But here comes the next thing already.
The buzz is on about 5G.
Now, first off, as you might imagine, 5G's expected to be faster.
But I'm not real comfortable quoting any speeds right now because you know how it goes.
We've been promised pie in the sky many times with 3G and 4G what the lab speeds are.
Then we get out in the real world and it's nowhere near that.
There are some theoretical benchmark out there that we can compare right now but let's let the speed thing percolate awhile.
The next concept we hear a lot about is 5G having lightness.
So, it will be faster, able to handle great big thick content, like streaming 4K high definition movies.
But on the other hand, it'll also be dead reliable as expected on very thin, skinny bits of data, the kinds of data streams that little, connected home modules pass back and forth, for example, with absolute robustness.
In fact, many expect that under the 5G era, the biggest growth of connected devices within it is actually going to be those things that never really face a human, machine to machine devices, the so called internet of.
Then there's the concept of special lanes built within 5g.
This has to do with what they call signalling, what gets priority first because it needs to get there on time.
For example, the future wireless connection in a self driving or autonomous car needs a much higher priority than then video stream coming to your kid's iPad in the back seat of that car.
So that really important things that have to get there on time to allow a service to execute well will be given priority and other things that can buffer and no one gets hurt, will actually do that.
And related to all that is layered pricing.
Right now if you think about it, you basically pay the same price for data for a 100K email attachment as you do for a 100K worth of video streaming.
Although that video streaming is in theory a more valuable service.
Because it has to arrive on time to avoid video degradation and buffering.
5G is expected to have this kind of layered data within it, and the ability to sell it at different tiers within a single connection.
That could allow carriers to do a lot of interesting things with pricing.
Still, kinda hard to predict.
Finally, there's the concept of multihoming.
That means it harness, all the other available wireless around it.
Pulling in 2.5G, 3G, 4G, WiFi, BlueTooth, and assigning the tasks to whichever one is available, the most robust, and the most efficient.
Either based on energy use, or cost.
Those are the high points of what I'm hearing in the 5G discussion.
It's early right now, but it's starting to get really busy out there in terms of expectation and prediction.
You've got some time to absorb it, though.
The consensus is that none of this rolls out commercially until about 2020.
Finally, an update to 4K TV which we talked about in our very first episode of this show back in September of 2013.
Now, back then we were talking about the 4K TVs themselves.
Now as always the conversation turns from the gear to what you are gonna get on it to the content.
While the new LG TVs will be able to watch 4K television from Netflix.
With a great user interface on level F. And it's just amazing set of progress.
Ladies and gentlemen feast your eyes on what I'm calling the reference standard for 4K.
Going into video is really important to Amazon right now.
They've been focusing a lot on it lately because it means bringing viewers back into their ecosystem.
I don't know whether to be proud or terrified.
Netflix is first up with 4K streaming.
They've got their own show, House of Cards, out in a limited release in just some of their streaming clients.
it's not all of them.
And they're showing a variety of those kind of lush nature porn films which is ironic as that's how hd tv got started too almost 20 years ago.
Samsung continues to build their Smart tv platform which is built into their television and their Blu-Ray players.
As a place to come to get the content.
They have deals with Fox, Direct TV, Comcast, and Amazon for future 4k streaming and of course they'll also pull in Netflix 4k.
Speaking of Amazon, that'll be the next big shoe that drops.
Because they've commissioned at least 4 new series to be shot in 4k and of course, streamed that way.
Look for that to coincide with a new version of their Fire TV streaming box that'll have the ability to pull in and decode that 4K signal and then spit it out on a cable to your 4K television.
And I expect they're gonna tie that with a certain level of Prime membership, owning that box, and you'd be getting special access to their in-house produced shows.
At this point, I bet you're cringing, thinking, wait a minute.
What's all this 4K content that's coming out gonna do to my poor old home broadband connection which struggles today to deliver an HD stream?
Well that's where the good news comes in from the codec side of the story.
Most of these providers with their new content are using the H.265 codec.
It's related to H.264.
Not trying to glaze your eyes over with numbers here, but that latter one is probably already on your home HD camcorder.
So it's a cousin of that.
The dark horse is Google's VP9 codec.
This of course will be used to create 4K streams off of YouTube, but they've also got LG, Panasonic and Sony promising to use it in their televisions as well.
We don't expect those products or a lot of YouTube 4K streaming to be taking place until about 2015.
Now if you're wondering where the discs are in all of this, so is the rest of the world.
The folks that run the Blu-Ray technology say they have an extension coming that will allow the Blu-Ray to stretch, if you will, to carry and then decode 4k content.
I don't think it's gonna be a major player.
We've moved too far past the physical media era, and it's clear right now the internet can do at least a credible job of delivering 4k stream.
By the way, a benefit to all this codex stuff that you're not going to hear as much about, is the possibility of getting near bufferless streaming at standard HD levels because when you apply H.265 or VP9 to what we're already looking at it gets a lot smaller and with a BP9 codex in particular, Google says it could be instant for standard HD not too far in the future.
That'd be nice.
Thanks for watching.
I always enjoy having you with me as we explore what's next and what has legs.
Those are often not the same thing.
Send me an email if you've got ideas on technologies we should be talking about.
And if you haven't seen our back episodes, head over to CNET.com/nextbigthing and do a binge view of all of them.
I'll see you next time we go in search of the future.
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