Why We Can’t See Virtual Reality’s Disruption Coming

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world” — Albert Einstein

Do you ever feel like the world is moving faster than it used to? You wouldn’t be wrong. Unseen laws tied to our technological development are creating change at a blinding pace. As remarkably fast as these developments are happening, they are surprisingly easy to predict. You just need to know what to look for.

What are exponential technologies?

Exponential technologies include artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR, VR), data science, digital biology and biotech, medicine, nanotech and digital fabrication, networks and computing systems, robotics, and autonomous vehicles.

Here at Glimpse, we are currently working on virtual and augmented reality solutions, both of which are experiencing exponential growth.

For a technology to be “exponential,” the power and/or speed doubles each year, and/or the cost drops by half.

This doubling phenomenon is a big deal.

As human beings, we tend to overestimate what can be achieved in the short term, yet vastly underestimate what can be achieved in the long term. Why? It’s because humans are not mentally equipped to process exponential growth.

Human beings are wired to think locally and linearly, yet these technologies are evolving globally and exponentially.

Our instinct is to use our assessment of how much change we’ve seen in the past to forecast how much change we’ll see in the future. We tend to assume a constant rate of change (thinking linearly rather than exponentially). Thinking exponentially, however, is key to understanding the world that we are heading towards. And we should be very excited.

If you take 30 linear steps, you go 1,2, 3… 30 paces.

If you take 30 exponential steps, however, you go 1, 2, 4, 8, 16… and you reach a billion paces.

This is why the smartphone in your pocket has more computing power than all of NASA when it put the first men on the moon in 1969. Understanding the magnitude of that on a logical level can still be difficult for our linear minds.

To help with that, there’s a handy framework for thinking about this rate of change, created by the brilliant Peter Diamandis of Singularity University:

1. Digitalization: Once you digitize a product or service (photography, manufacturing, biology, etc…) into ones and zeros, that product or service becomes an information-based technology and it jumps onto an exponential growth curve.

2. Deceptive Growth: At the beginning of exponential growth, the doubling of small numbers seem deceptively flat. For example, the first Kodak Digital Camera that produced 0.01 Megapixel images. As it grew from 0.01, to 0.02, 0.04, 0.08… they all seemed like zero.

3. Disruptive Growth: What follows early deceptive growth is disruption. 30 doublings later something has grown 1 billion-fold. That first 0.01 megapixel Kodak camera is now generating a 10 megapixel image. The result of which is the complete dematerialization and demonetization of film photography. All of a sudden, you go from bulky expensive digital cameras to having it as an integral part of your cell phone.

4. Dematerialization: You no longer have a clunky GPS on the dashboard of your car, today it’s an app on your phone. Think about all the 1980s or ’90s technology that now comes free on your cellphone: GPS, two-way video conferencing, HD video, HD photography, radio, books, maps, weather and much more. Today’s smart phone comes with over a million dollars’ worth of technologies from the 1980s.

5. Demonetization: Once a product/service has become dematerialized into bits, its cost of replication and transmission is near zero and ultimately leads to their demonetization. As an example, digital photography has totally demonetized the field.

6. Democratization: As products and services dematerialize and demonetize they become available to billions of people across the planet. Whereas cellphones 20 years ago were reserved for the elite, now even the poor have access to these game-changing devices. Today there are 3 billion people connected on the planet. By 2025 that will increase to 8 billion connected individuals.

So where is VR in this process? Headsets are getting exponentially faster, cheaper, and more user friendly. Oculus Go was just released as a $200 stand alone headset that has the industry buzzing about mass adoption. At Glimpse, we see that virtual reality is on the cusp of entering disruptive growth.

DataView VR, a Glimpse Group subsidiary, is disrupting the presentation world with its immersive VR experiences. The team has built solutions that instantly turn multi-variable data-sets into intuitive 3D displays. They’re leveraging the exponential improvements in processing power and cost in VR to create game-changing technologies for how we interact with data.

By 2020, we anticipate VR taking over the world. Soon, it will be as ubiquitous as the cell phone, meaning it will go from a novel concept to widespread adoption. We look forward to being on the cutting-edge when it does.

Originally published at medium.com on June 8, 2018.

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