Ready Player One – thumbs up or down?

Last night, the NYVR crowd hauled out to the AMC in Kips Bay to watch the new Ready Player One movie as a group in IMAX 3D.  We’ve been waiting for this moment. As an industry, we went through a hype bubble, then trough of disillusionment and now we’re all wondering…will this be a turning point for consumer adoption?

I personally had mixed feelings after watching the movie.  Perhaps the build up to the movie was just set so high that it couldn’t realistically live up to expectations.  Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the nostalgia trip.  (Spoiler alert: I was proud of myself for catching glimpses of the Ninja Turtles, Halo soldiers, the Tron motorcycle and even the Street Fighter Ryu’s fireball reference. See here for complete list.)

On one hand, it’s very neat that a lot of things in the movie exist today.  On the other hand, somany of the things in the movie exist today, that in 2045 when the movie takes place I sure hope the industry has evolved much more.  In case you were wondering, here’s the IRL state of the technologies imagined in the book.  Haptic suits (Teslasuit), night clubs (WaveVR), omni-directional treadmills…already here.

One of the compelling ideas in the movie that did grab my attention was the projection of the virtual avatar into a hologram in real life (and in real time).  The exiting part is the blur between VR and AR. I think more technologies need to be able to bridge the gap between both, to take full advantage of both the immersive properties of VR as well as the convenience of AR.  Live projection of holograms do exist (see: VNTANA).  Metaverses full of avatars also exist (see: Alt Space).  So hopefully projection of avatars is not too far off either.  Of course, we need to remember to take baby steps.

People often see movies like this, and as much of the technology in it does indeed exist, the quality of equipment and content is still far off.  Headsets are still clunky and very buggy. Actions can be non-intuitive. At a meetup, someone once likened where we are in the development of VR/AR to the OG grey brick telephone.  It was another 10 years before the iphone would come out. So we do have a long ways to go. Like the movie, adjusting expectations will be critical to a healthy and patient adoption of the medium.

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