Meant to be Seen
Meant to be Seen (MTBS) is the consumer arm of The Immersive Technology Alliance. It was founded in 2007 and continues to be one of the largest gaming communities focused on immersive technologies; especially stereoscopic 3D and VR gaming.
Meant to be Seen is also credited as the point where the Oculus Rift was launched. MTBS’ discussion forums mark the spot where gaming pioneer John Carmack and MTBS Moderator Palmer Luckey first met.
What Are the Current Industry Challenges?
The immersive technology industry is very much wild west. While there are a handful of financially backed efforts that are preparing consumer products, there are still countless ideas and innovations to come. It’s far too premature to lay claim to an “ecosystem” or standard for an industry that hasn’t been publicly released yet.
Furthermore, while each piece of technology has a strength on its own, it’s when all the pieces are connected that a truly immersive and memorable experience is achieved. This puzzle includes content creation, delivery and memorable consumption.
Another issue is that there is so much more to learn. We don’t yet know what the optimal user experience will be, we must continually explore the outer limits of what immersive technology is capable of, and the industry needs to nurture and explore as many creative ideas as possible.
Finally, user experiences to date have not been uniformly positive, and the willingness to market poor experiences can be very damaging in the long term. As this industry is in a formative state, even more so.
The Immersive Technology Alliance is uniquely positioned to help overcome these challenges. The ITA is non-profit, it’s non-proprietary, it has no vested interests in specific technologies, and its members and founders haven’t just watched history unfold – they’ve been part of it.
Existing Track Record and History
The Immersive Technology Alliance was originally known as The Stereoscopic 3D Gaming Alliance (S3DGA) and is based on the same organization, its existing membership, and the organization’s fundamentals. S3DGA was founded as a non-profit corporation in 2009 to represent the needs and interests of the stereoscopic 3D gaming industry.
Just some of the organizations that have attached themselves to S3DGA’s work officially and/or unofficially include Electronic Arts, Sony PlayStation, Nintendo of America, Ubisoft, AMD, Dynamic Digital Depth, Panasonic, Blitz Games Studios, Microsoft Games Studios, The Khronos Group, and countless more.
Over the years, the alliance distinguished itself by being repeatedly featured in the gaming press, by raising funding for and partnering on research as it pertained to stereoscopic 3D gaming, and by helping build gaming events and technology demos to spread the word about S-3D gaming and showing what it’s capable of.
The alliance has also taken pride in helping its members network and better understand the video game market through meetings, personal introductions and joint efforts.
There are three classes of immersive technology. The first is technology that makes the user feel and experience a digital world as though they are inside it. This is primarily referred to as “virtual reality”, but it also includes and/or features technologies like stereoscopic 3D, haptics (touch), sound, and gesture/motion control.
The second branch is about changing the way we experience the world around us. This is usually referred to as “augmented reality” and is often associated with glasses-like technologies that add digital imagery above and beyond what a user would normally see. For example, instead of just looking down a street, an augmented reality glasses wearer could see snapshot vendor reviews hanging on top of each storefront.
Finally, there are immersive technologies that can stand on their own, but aren’t necessarily used in conjunction with AR or VR. Gesture control and motion capture are good examples of this.
Where is Immersive Technology Today?
While immersive technology has been around in countless forms for decades, only now is there an industry-wide concerted effort to make this affordably available for consumers.
A growing number of companies have been exceedingly successful in this regard.
An idea originally shared in the MTBS forums by famed Palmer Luckey, Oculus VR has already sold tens of thousands of Oculus Rift developer kits so software makers can support their future products. To date, Oculus has raised over $90 million in investment in one form or another.
Competitive head mounted displays are also in the works by the likes of Sony, Gameface, Vrelia, and more.
Technical Illusions’ castAR is a recent success story having raised over a million dollars on Kickstarter for their combined AR and VR solution. Google, Epson and more have publicized plans for augmented reality glasses and/or virtual reality add-ons.
Virtuix and others are bringing platforms to market that let you physically walk in digital worlds. In the case of the Virtuix Omni, users can walk, run, crouch and jump. While products like this have excellent entertainment value, they have equal potential in the serious games market.
For existing AAA games, software like Dynamic Digital Depth’s TriDef Ignition, Vireio Perception, and VorpX are making it possible to game in VR even though titles were not designed for that purpose. While there are trade-offs with after-market driver support versus true native VR programming, this has been a welcome boon for VR gamers.
Countless game developers and software makers are gradually adding VR support to their titles. Leading game engine companies which have added VR support include Epic Games, Unity3D, Crytek, and more.
Multiple gesture technologies have been hitting the market that are based on physical controllers or visible detection by stereoscopic or infrared cameras. Samples of this technology include Intel RealSense, Leap Motion, Sixense’s STEM, Vicon cameras, and more.
When applied, these technologies greatly enhance the content experience, and have several real world applications as well.
Next3D, Conditon One, and others have been developing special VR cameras that make it possible for viewers to enjoy events remotely as though they are right there in the room. Work is also being done to create virtual reality movies.
Stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) continues to be important in its own right. In addition to PC S-3D gaming, we are seeing multiple mobile 3D solutions; some as simple as an add-on layer for iPods and iPads! Software support continues to be well driven by the likes of Dynamic Digital Depth and Nvidia.
Despite all these positive developments, the immersive technology market is still very formative, and some of the best ideas and innovations are yet to come!
The Immersive Technology Alliance is a non-profit corporation and was founded for the purpose of making immersive technology successful.
We do this by:
- Being a non-proprietary representative for the industry as a whole.
- Providing the means to regularly meet and discuss the industry’s latest developments.
- Continually discussing and jointly building an industry vision to aim for.
- Helping new ideas become industry successes.
- Supporting academic research
- To represent the needs and interests of the immersive technology industry.
- To help review, foster, and promote internal and external standards as they pertain to immersive technology.
- To nurture new ideas so they can later become immersive technology successes.
- To build a growing community of immersive technology consumers.