Virtual Reality Night with Amir Ebrahimi

Calling all Virtual Reality geeks, gurus and aficionados! STRV is planning an out-of-this world, one-night engagement just for you on September 13.

In addition to getting a chance to horse around with our in-house Oculus Rift and HTC Vive sets, you’ll get a chance to chat up Amir Ebrahimi, a principal software engineer at Unity Technologies. Amir and STRV COO Lubo Smid will be talking about how Virtual and Augmented Reality have turned the tech world on its head.

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Reserve your tickets on Eventbrite today!

Come find out the latest trends and what’s in store for this rapidly evolving industry. As always, drinks and snacks will be served at STRV’s seventh-floor Scrollbar following the fireside chat at our Karlin offices.

In the meantime, we asked Amir a couple of questions beforehand to get you VR nerdy nerds salivating. Get your hankies ready, boys and girls!

Virtual and Augmented Reality are taking the world by storm. How do you see the industry evolving over the next few years? What should we be on the lookout for in the coming decade?

For the near future, I think we will see hardware be the rapidly evolving area of the industry. We'll continue to reap benefits from the economies of scale that enabled this latest resurgence of VR and AR hardware. Mobile phone and tablet hardware continue to improve in performance while also reducing power consumption, which has implications both for VR going wireless and for higher quality screens.

Desktop GPUs have improved dramatically between the last generation, which is the minimum spec for desktop VR, and the current generation. AMD has done well on reducing cost while still providing adequate performance for VR. NVIDIA has done well on increasing the overall performance of their GPU to allow us to do more visually.

Over the next decade, which is actually a really long time in technology forecasting, I'd say that the big thing to look out for is what many are referring to as the Metaverse, which is purportedly where VR and AR users will be interacting online together. One could say it is an extension of our existing Internet infrastructure, but the "meta" part of it is that other virtual planes / worlds will exist, which isn't quite analogous to individual websites.

In your opinion, which technology has the greater potential of success/growth?

I think I'm going against the grain on this one, but I'm a bigger fan of VR. I'm excited about going places that are impossible to go to or experiencing things that I can't experience simply by adding a visual layer on top of the real world. Don't get me wrong though, I'm fairly certain that AR will eclipse VR in overall revenue share in the long term simply because of the use cases that come from it. However, that doesn't mean that VR will go away or not be a significant portion of the overall market. I also think that VR will be the first to achieve greater revenue than AR in the near term.

Amir at Unity office

How has your interest in this field developed?

I backed the first Oculus DK1 on Kickstarter. At that time, I was at a company I co-founded with others called LUMINARY. We were focused on mobile games. When we received the DK1, we did some experiments with it, and while I and others on my team could see the potential, there wasn't much excitement for where the hardware was at that time. I'd say I didn't have my "wow, the future has changed" moment until I tried out the HTC Vive. I hadn't experienced VR yet with having tracked controllers and room-scale, which will become commonplace to both Vive and Rift very soon.

You’re back at Unity Technologies after a four-year hiatus. What cool projects are you working on these days?

I'm working in our newly-formed (as of last year) Labs group where we are experimenting with where the future of Unity may go. The current experiment is how one might author VR content inside of VR. We're calling it EditorVR. What's exciting is that we're not only delivering high-quality tools that will allow developers to do this, but in addition giving our whole developer community a platform to build their own tools on top of and sell on the Asset Store.

Oculus Rift or HTC Vive? Discuss.

No clear winner. Both are great for different types of experiences. Oculus Rift has a great seated and standing in-place experience. It's the one that I use at my desk while developing EditorVR. I think Oculus has done an excellent job of courting Hollywood and explaining VR to the masses. Valve and HTC have been great for gamers with the extensions to Steam. The Vive's room-scale VR experience is premium for those who have the space to be able to do that.

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