Trans•mog•ri•fy verb – to transform, especially in a surprising or magical manner
“This is really the GDC of AR and VR,” says Google’s head game designer Noah Falstein, but Google is looking forward even further to a vision of the future they believe will be defined by what Falstein calls “Transmogrified Reality.” Falstein defines transmogrified reality as the result of a culmination of all the different technologies we are currently developing, VR, AR, HMDs and faster processors, all combined to form one vision of the future. At the center of Google’s vision is Project Tango.
Google’s Project Tango is an advanced system for sensing the room around you that is currently in a “reference design” state. The system uses a pair of cameras, one color camera and one 120-degree black and white camera. Through those two cameras the device is able to do a number of things that Falstein calls “magical.”
During the talk, Falstein highlighted a number of Tango’s impressive features. During a video demonstration, we saw real time building scale with 6 DOF motion tracking, full city scale mapping, as well as 3D room capturing done in real time. This was something that Falstein was particularly excited about, “its not just the room but everything in it, including the people.” Doing scans detailed at this level and at this speed open up a large number of possibilities in the AR/VR gaming world. Imagine in the near future being able to sit in your room with a group of friends, glass coffee table in front of you, you put on your Tango enabled HMD and so do they and suddenly everything is transformed. Using this live scanning technology, Falstein says it will soon be possible to turn that glass table into a rock one and your friends into a group of aliens or dwarfs or whatever you wish, all in real time.
This vision isn’t quite a reality yet, but Falstein is incredibly confident that they are “getting close,” and based on some of the amazing things in the video such as live mapping a conference floor with hundreds of people walking around constantly, or even the incredibly impressive point cloud formed from the front of a moving roller coaster. When they showed that, there were a number of audible reactions in the crowd, it was pretty impressive. Tango also is going to have the ability to do real time meshing within Unity, as well as the ability to hyper localize, i.e. determine where in your living room you are standing. All of these pieces culminate together to create experiences that will, as Falstein says, “transmogrify our reality.”
But why the new term? Well technically because this technology has the potential, when combined with existing HMD tech, to change what that technology can do. Combining all aspects of the VR and AR together, making it possible to be in a fully virtual version of the world you are in, or in a version that only augments certain aspects of that world. Falstein thinks there will be a convergence in the near future of all of these technologies and that convergence will result in technology that escapes the definition of either VR or AR, and thereby deserves its own term TR.
With hints towards future integration in existing HMD technology, Google’s Project Tango is something that the VR/AR community should keep an extremely close eye on. The future is looking like it will truly be “magical.”