I asked Kelly how she thought So Real’s technology helps true immersion when it comes to VR, interested to hear her thoughts. The answer still surprises me listening back to the recording of our conversation.
“Because it’s real,” she states matter-of-factly.
She means that without a hint of marketing. What they are creating is, in effect, Digital Twins. The digital objects that come out of that scary underground scanner are, to all intents and purposes, real.
“We don’t need to do any all-singing, all-dancing fancy stuff. The expectation is that as we get further through AR and VR – especially in extended reality that the ‘Uncanny Valley’ thing will go.
“The problem at the moment is if you play Half-Life: Alyx, you know that you are in a game. You kind of know that when you pick up your grenade it’s not real. I’m being a bit of a dick at work at the moment because I’m telling them I want to put grenades through, I want to put M16s through, and make these objects real.”
I point out that in the underground bunker it is almost expected that that kind of thing is going on.
“I want to look at ways where we can put real things in real environments. Like you, I think Google Earth is great, but what it lacks is that connection and objects in the environment can add to that connection. If you were walking through your town in Ireland and you came across a bottle of red lemonade that they have in the shops there, and you picked up that bottle and said ‘we used to drink that on the beach when we were on vacation,’ that would connect you more to the environment and that is what we are trying to do.”
“One of the things we really sold the business on originally was the masks from Iron Man and Terminator Genisys. We got them from the Hollywood prop store from the actual film so they have stuntman marks all over them and we left them in. When we got feedback they were like “those scratches are really real” and they were excited they were getting the real masks that had been used.”
“We were like ‘put them on, see what they are like inside’. Now people can do that.”
“In this Coronavirus time, we have discovered people need things to do while they are lovked inside. We are working with some museums to look at getting their artifacts online so people will be able to look at them as if they were there.”
“People still think we all live in this museum world where everything is behind glass and not touchable and it’s not tactile, and actually it really is.”
I asked Kelly if she was angered when she sees clickbait-style headlines proclaiming the death of VR.
“It is annoying, but also it’s interesting in a way because the VR world is generally quite contained. You don’t have cowboy developers as you have in the games industry turning out a mobile game around in six months that’s a pile of sh*t, make a load of money and then get out and go back to being plumbers. I think in VR at the moment we are in a really interesting place.”
“I can tell you from conversations I have had with Sony Research and Development that they aren’t massively interested in VR right now or developing for VR because they have other issues. Oculus is though, They are trying to standardize VR and that is probably the key to making VR for the masses. We have to bring the cost of the hardware down and Oculus is really helping us to do that.”
“I think it’s really exciting and I also think that we will end up in a space where we aren’t tethered to a PC. I was talking to the Square Enix guys and they want to do a Final Fantasy remake in VR, they are actively researching it. Imagine what Midgard will be like in Virtual Reality. I’m never going to come out!”