Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney On AR: ‘We’re Going To Need Very Strong Privacy Protections’

by Ian Hamilton • March 26th, 2019

I spoke to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney at the Game Developers Conference last week. Sweeney declined a full interview but agreed to answer one question about the VR and AR market on the record.

Sweeney is, of course, the CEO of the company behind Unreal Engine, Fortnite, Epic Games store and more. A team at Epic built Robo Recall for Oculus Rift and the company’s development tools are designed to support the OpenXR specification for cross-platform development. Beyond that, though, how Sweeney views opportunity in these markets could be helpful to developers.

‘You can quote me on this’

He spoke for nearly two minutes about how he views VR and AR:

VR and AR will transform the future of entertainment and Epic is investing heavily in it. A lot of our investment is the enterprise side where customers all over the world are doing amazing things to visualize products and do virtual production on movie sets and other things like that.

I think our recognition now is we’re still — despite a lot of early hopes — we’re still sort of in the Palm Pilot phases of this revolution rather than the smartphone era of the revolution. So we’re investing heavily but its…going to take years before it develops into a market that changes the world for everyone.

But I do believe in this future of the world in which billions of people are wearing AR hardware, AR glasses are their everyday life and I believe that’s the entertainment platform of the future. And we’re gonna be there.

And we’re very very happy to see Microsoft announce the HoloLens and all their future AR efforts will be treated as open platforms. I think that’s an incredibly important thing for the future of the industry. AR especially, you’re talking about hardware that’s going to present unparalleled visual fidelity — imagine 8K per eye filling your entire field of view — and imagine sensors constantly picking up your facial movement and the world around you to digitize it.

We’re going to need very strong privacy protections and very strong guarantees of open platforms and open access to platforms so that we don’t end up in some sort of surveillance dystopia as you might see in science fiction.

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