One might think that Jaron Lanier would be elated right now.More than 30 years after his pioneering work in virtual reality, VR finally appears to be on the verge of becoming a mass market phenomenon.
In particular he s concerned about how virtual reality technology will put even more power in the hands of a very small number of already powerful companies.
And whenever one side of a relationship has far more information than the other side, there s the potential for abuse, he said.
Each of the major VR systems is relying on or developing some kind of pointing device or game controller to allow users to manipulate things in their world.
Those types of interfaces may be appropriate for some games and simulations, but they run the risk of limiting what people will be able to experience in VR, Lanier warned.Users might want to be able to sculpt virtual clay and feel its texture as they squish it.
A simple button-based controller can t really offer those experiences, but that s what virtual reality should strive for, he said.VPL Research, which was one of the first VR companies and was founded by Lanier in the 1980s, developed a glove filled with sensors that could track movements and could be used to navigate virtual worlds.While it s still early days in VR, the danger is that design choices or moves to standardize the technology today will limit the technology for years to come, both in how people experience it and in how designers envision how it will work.