On VR and AR

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Tim Cook talks about the future of VR/AR:

“There’s no substitute for human contact,” Cook told BuzzFeed News. “And so you want the technology to encourage that.” It’s not the first time Cook has indicated that Apple might favor AR. “We are high on AR for the long run,” Cook said during an earnings call this past summer. “I think AR can be huge.” Huge, indeed — one could look to the sudden and explosive success of Pokemon Go to see an immediate real-world example.

As I tweeted last night, VR and especially AR are fascinating to think about from an accessibility standpoint. I can see it working well in terms of contextual awareness: As one example, imagine you're low vision and in the grocery store and you need to find the bread aisle. You pull out your AR-enabled iPhone with a live view of the store with overlays on how to get there. Better than aimlessly wandering around the store or getting abstract direction from a store employee. Suffice it to say, there are a lot of possibilities here.

Virtual reality is interesting as well. I got a demo of the Oculus Rift some time ago, and it was fun. The hardware and software have come a long ways since I tried it, but in hindsight, I'm inclined to agree with Cook's feelings on AR's longevity. I'd rather have a Pokemon Go-type experience with my phone than wear a bulky headset that looks funny and is somewhat claustrophobic. Maybe the hardware gets better over time, but right now, I prefer a computer on my wrist (Apple Watch) to a computer on my face. I think Cook feels this way too, given his "there's no substitute for human contact" remark.