So Many XR Ideas – But For What Market?

I am not alone in this, certainly, but I have so many ideas for things that I think would be really cool, or really informative, or really compelling, or really je ne sais quois.

Here’s an idea that would appeal to me, and quite possibly to at least a dozen other people: VR Model Railroad. Imagine a Model Railroad enthusiast has gotten himself a 3D Printer so they can download models from thingiverse, print out little buildings, cars, whatever, paint them, and add them to that monstrous thing that takes up way too much of the basement. Or the garage. Or the club’s building. Or whatever. Well what if those buildings didn’t need to be really printed? What if the model railroad was assembled in Sansar, or HiFidelity, or some other VR platform, and the train was also virtual? All the valves. All the levers and knobs. The roaring and hissing and clatter… all within the Oculus Rift with Touch Controllers.

Or, in a more AR way, what about a model train locomotive that has 360° cameras, and there was an interface between Touch controllers and the Model Railroad controls? Pop on the Oculus Rift, and shrinkify yourself INTO the cab of your locomotive, and engineer that puppy around the plywood and styrofoam from the Engineer’s perspective.

And shouldn’t every major art museum be making a VR version of their spaces?

And shouldn’t every state’s History Society be hiring 360-cam operators and VR designers to get even more eyes on History? Well heck, that’d also be an interesting area to do AR. Walk into some historic house, then view it through your AR-enabled phone app, and see an actor-portrayal of whichever historical figure sitting at his desk in the study, engrossed in the business of governance or whatever.

There’s a great deal of potential, but the recent articles seem to indicate that the XR market is still quite small (though the ARKit stuff in the latest iPhones may sway those numbers quite a bit).

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MyKronoz ZeTime Review

I was backer 12643 on the KickStarter of ZeTime back on April 15, 2017 (boy howdy, it seemed like so much longer ago, but maybe that’s because I’ve received several Kickstarter rewards this year which were soooooo laaaaaate as compared to their initial estimates). Over that span of 6.5 months there were 36 updates.

That’s pretty good. Compare that to the gruff Richard Haberkern, whose 8th Kickstarter campaign I backed on 6/4/2016, was initially estimated to ship that coming October. It’s 13 months after the initial date – still not shipped. And there have been 10 updates. TEN.

Soundlazer VR from Richard Haberkern Sheesh.

Anyway – back to the ZeTime. The idea of having physical hands over a smartwatch touchscreen is brilliant. The fact that it’s shaped like (and the typical size of) a watch, unlike pebbles or iWatches or fitbits, is brilliant.

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No, it doesn’t have luminous hands (inside joke). But look what happens if you push the crown button once… That’s not a great angle (quick-n-dirty iPhone photo and avoiding glare). Point being, in the dark, it totally looks like luminous hands pointing at luminous indices.

If you push the crown button a 2nd time, various things may happen depending on circumstances, but most of the time, it will then display your chosen face (presently there are 24 to choose from).

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Like this… Now I’d like to point something out on this particular face. It has two virtual complications. The day of the month at the top, and weather info just above and below the axle of the hands. It shows the temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit, my choice), an icon indicating partly cloudy, and the city in which those were the conditions.

But I’m in Eagan, and it’s 30 degrees. I’ve been down here for two hours. The watch and my iPhone have needed to communicate with each other a few times since I left Centerville to drive to work… but it still says “Centerville” and “28°”. Why?

I mean, if it’s mid-day, and it looks sunny out, I might want to know if it’s warm enough to go for a walk outside during lunch. Boy, wouldn’t it be convenient if I had a weather bug on my smartwatch that showed reasonably current conditions where I’m at? But no – – unless I go to a specific screen on my iPhone, then drag down to force a re-sync with the watch, this sucker will say “Centerville 28°” all… day… long!

So although the face pictured above is my favorite, and would be most useful to me, I have instead chosen a different one which isn’t going to irritate me all day by showing stale info.

IMG_6478Another thing I wish they’d done (though it’s a visual design choice which could discourage certain other potential customers). I can sort of tell the time when the display is off. And, wisely, they have it designed such that even in powered-down mode (i.e. display completely disabled, no bluetooth, no nothing), the hands will run for about a month. Well, if it had indices around the outside of the face, that is outside the display area, but still below the front glass, I would be able to tell the difference between “about 7:20” and 7:19 or 7:21. That would be a “smart” thing to have when the watch is not in smartwatch mode.