F8 2017: Oculus’ Michael Abrash Says ‘Full’ AR Is ‘At Least 5 Years’ Away

by Charles Singletary • April 19th, 2017

Facebook’s global F8 developer’s conference is underway, opening a window to new products and possibilities across many industries. Oculus’ chief scientist Michael Abrash took the stage on the second day of F8 to discuss augmented reality and, ultimately, painted an exciting yet very humbling picture for those looking forward to AR’s evolution. While VR is seemingly hitting a stride, Abrash says full AR may take another 5-10 years before it has its “Macintosh moment”.

We have AR content like filters and stickers on mobile devices and different AR headsets in development, but what exactly is the “full” AR experience? Abrash describes it as “glasses that enhance your vision and hearing seamlessly, that make you smarter and more capable, and that are light, comfortable, stylish, power efficient, and socially acceptable to be a constant part of your life”.

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“Full AR will not be an occasional or special case device,” he says. “It will be your always-on helper continually aware of your surroundings, your context, and your history. Constantly mixing the real and virtual worlds to serve your needs and keep you connected.”

All of this sounds incredible, but what specifically needs to change for it to become a reality? Abrash points toward a collection of things that require technology that is “beyond today’s state of the art”. Optics and displays, audio, interaction, computer vision, AI, system design, and UX all need significant advancements before full AR becomes a reality.  We’re also going to see less than full implementations of this tech while the industry develops.

Whenever all of those puzzle pieces do fall into place, however, Abrash has a pretty incredible forecast: “I predict that AR will involve the greatest leap in the nature of human/computer interactions since the mouse and GUI.”

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  • riotkid101

    lmao so 2022 the same year the nervegear was released…….

  • 12Danny123

    i find that Microsoft will have the biggest advantage here. Because they already have the Hololens which can track space and can stay put. But what FB is talking about is essentially Hololens lite, Microsoft already has the ecosystem in place.

  • Having tried Hololens, I agree with him

    • Brian Solomon

      Not really boring in the right setting. Themed entertainment, theater, digital acting, medical, and new art exhibitions and experimental uses will be amazing with AR. Plenty of other fun or innovative uses I’m not mentioning, but those come to mind right off the bat.
      VR is great also for the above mentioned reasons, also poor for some others.

      Our artists love both.

  • I really think everyone hyping AR seems to be kinda ignoring that it’s really productivity and lifestyle stuff that AR is going to do best, which to me is just totally and utterly boring for the most part–I honestly do not give a flying f**k about another device that shows me the weather in a novel way, or tracks how many steps I make per day and how many calories I’ve burned, or shows me ads over every single object in my daily life, or even makes work even more efficiently/productively (like working even more is what’s supposed to f’n make me happier in this life). VR, on the other hand, is ultimately going to be about things like gaming, entertainment, and escapism. And it’s doing things like playing in massive virtual worlds that simply can’t exist in realaty that adds joy and happiness to my life, not menial chores and tasks and the like. Now, I’m sure AR will have some fun uses too, but to me it just pales in comparison to what VR is going to offer as an actual FUN and ENTERTAINING experience and technology. So, everyone that keeps saying the AR is where the future is really at rather than VR is either totally f’n boring (company types) or really doesn’t understand these technologies fully at all. AR is probably exciting as f**k for Facebook and other mega corporations, for obvious reasons–but most people aren’t f’n corporations. Stop drinking the Kool-Aid about AR and actually get excited about the thing that will make your life more fun and entertaining and creative, not the thing that will make you a better equipped slave to the system. Seeing how fat you are and how many calories you have burned in the corner of an AR screen on the glasses you are wearing, or tracking how much hours of work you’ve done today in a graph floating in front of your face while you work at your computer desk is not going to make you happy.