Let Virtual Reality Amplify, Not Obstruct

Gone are the days of mobile and desktop innovation. The new buzzwords on the block are wearables, virtual reality, and augmented reality. Do any of these terms sound remotely human?

The Only Thing That’s Changed

For the first time in the history of the iPhone, Apple has released a new iPhone without any major hardware improvements. During Apple’s keynote yesterday, I must have heard the phrase “The only thing that’s changed is everything” at least 15 times. Could the overuse of such a catch phrase be compensation for something other than a hardware standstill?

In last week’s post I predicted that the iPhone 6S wouldn’t touch the mono microphone. Apple’s lack of hardware updates on their flagship product is the first sign that a new world of hardware is rapidly approaching — and its spinning faster and scarier than screens in our pockets.

We’ve seen it again and again with technology in the 21st century: progress at a steadily accelerating pace. In the 20th century, major product breakthroughs like the phonograph, the radio, the television, the microwave, ocurred once every several years. Today we experience major product breakthroughs weekly. As each decade approaches, the lifespan of any given technological vehicle shortens accordingly. The personal computer was introduced in the early 1980s and reigned as technological king until the mid 2000s when mobile devices started heating up. Now we see the mobile device fading only 10 years after its introduction, with a sovereignty roughly half the length of its predecessor. The current tech vehicle dominating the market, the wearable, is seeing a lifespan of about 5 years as health monitoring hardware is already becoming a product consumers are growing tired of.

There is no doubt that the iPhone is a phenomenal product, one that has changed the fabric of daily life as much at the television did. But even television must assent to the forces of Netflix and Amazon Prime. What more can the iPhone do if it continues to be presented in the same package?

Beyond the Square Screen

It’s going to be a rough road, filled with surrenders of privacy we can’t even begin to fathom, celebrity social blunders like those we’ve come to expect from twitter, and an onslaught of ridiculous, expensive, poorly executed products.

Like the mobile market, there isn’t space for every product to be a hit (remember the Apple Newton?). It’s hard for consumers to accept a device that covers their eyes or inhibits their natural senses — even harder for consumers to feel an immediate need for it when it doesn’t effect their daily lives. It will. It’s just not available at Best Buy quite yet.

The conversation about virtual reality and augmented reality is so heated that we forget there isn’t even a consumer VR/AR product on the market yet. We have no idea what this first VR/AR product will look like. We’ve grown accustomed to the experimental models from Oculus, Samsung, and Hololens, but the first product to make the leap into a frontier of new consumer hardware could look nothing like the Oculus Rift. How many of us thought the world’s first smartphone would look like the iPhone we’ve come to know and love?

The key to successful virtual reality is to make it not virtual

Don’t imitate life, appreciate it.

Embrace it and store it the way our bodies do.

The Hooke Verse is a virtual reality product but it doesn’t augment, process, or virtually represent reality. It celebrates reality in its endeavor to capture life — exactly as is (the key word here being celebrates). It lets the world know when it is recording, and it doesn’t inhibit the natural senses (being both microphones and speakers, the headphones amplify, rather than obstruct, what you’re already hearing). Most importantly, it doesn’t process our world, it simply records it and lets us play it back exactly how it sounds.

Binaural audio, which the Hooke Verse records in, captures sound in the space that we hear it and plays it back exactly as it was recorded. Binaural audio is all about being present in the music and sounds, and the recordings capture exactly that. Above, below, left and right, in front of or behind. 3D audio uses the help of localization in our brain to capture, process and playback the sounds that we hear in the spaces that we hear them. The localization is key, because without it, our brains wouldn’t be able to process sound and space for us to be able to recreate, record, and produce it.

Shouldn’t technology serve to reify our humanity, rather than inhibit or attempt to replace it? If life imitates art, then can’t art imitate life?

From One Ear To Another,
Anthony Mattana
Hooke Founder

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