VR & AR have arrived ... says everybody with an eye toward the future. How the exciting potential is translated to us non-tech civilians is critical to its broad integration.
- Will it feel accessible to wide audiences (Get that thing off my face / motion sickness)? Or limited to industries, such as healthcare?
- What kind of stories will demand these platforms, versus all other available options?
- Will 'character' be as critical, or will it be about escapism to different worlds and chat rooms?
I spent a couple days at Microsoft in the "Tech Tasting" room during the Microsoft Storytelling Summit. For three days in May, Microsoft employees attended talks and seminars on the art and craft of storytelling. Sample presentations included the structure of storytelling and a keynote from one of my favorite authors, Colum McCann (Transatlantic, Let The Great World Spin). Kudos to Microsoft for producing the summit for its employees.
Produced by NYC media company Future of Storytelling (FoST), the "Tech Tasting Room," was a curated showcase of VR/AR games and narrative installations dedicated to showcasing how digital platforms will impact the ways we will consume and interact with stories.
The installation that stole the show was RIOT, an interactive Augmented Reality experience that took viewers on various story directions dependent on how viewers emotionally reacted to certain dramatic scenarios in real time.
RIOT sought to determine whether individual viewers would stay calm throughout the story, thus de-escalating various tense situations.
A viewer's background and personal experiences influenced how they responded. Those who maintained calm often claimed it was because they excelled in high-pressure situations. (There was no correlation as to whether these individuals wore a blue Microsoft badge or not.)
Created by Karen Palmer, the RIOT project used a standard webcam to read a viewers emotions while her proprietary algorithm worked behind to the scenes to constantly assess facial ticks and identifiable emotional responses. There is more to come, with new iterations, tech upgrades, and additional storylines. The potential -- and how Karen's project could be monetized -- sparked much conversation.
Entertainment, like life, like tech, does not stagnate. It evolves. VR/AR/XR (all the R's) will become infused with out daily reality. Eventually.
No matter what storytelling innovations are around the corner, Aristotle will survive.