Envisioning VR Futures

by Sheridan Tatsuno, co-founder, One Reality AB.

Check out my new comedic fantasy VR novel “Virtually San Francisco” on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1545488908/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_WysBzb200YWR2

How can virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) be used for education, enterprise, healthcare, government, nonprofits and other mission-critical applications?  Recently, there has been a Cambrian explosion of new VR/AR products and applications, but they are mostly entertaining games and movies that feel remotely distant and irrelevant to our everyday lives. How can we make VR useful for the average person?

As a screenwriter and urban planner, I’ve always imagined the future when writing for TV/film and planning cities.  Today, my company is working with cities in the Nordics and the SF Bay Area to use VR for planning their transit stops and sustainable communities.  Unlike 2D, director-controlled film/TV, VR is a mix of urban planning and theater.  Virtual cities are real world, immersive and interactive. They are the “stage” where millions of “plays” happen simultaneously.  City officials want us to provide VR/AR mobile solutions to promote citizen engagement.  With VR, you can create anything you can imagine, so why limit yourself to typical games or mundane activities that you can see today? Why not imagine something relevant and visionary?

To test my ideas, I wrote a comedic fantasy VR novel, “Virtually San Francisco,” where the mayor challenges VR developers to reinvent the City.  Today, real cities are asking my company to do it for real.  Fiction becomes reality!   My novel explores a variety of themes that can be applied to real cities:

  • Biomimetic urban design that incorporates ideas from traditional Ohlone architecture, solar panels, NASA composites and closed-loop recycling, Buckminster Fuller, Zen, hydroponics, and Gaia theories to build a 3D-printed homeless shelter. It focuses a variety of ideas on a serious need.
  • Pet therapy by Swedish psychologist studying how dogs can help refugees, the homeless and senior citizens deal with society integration and urban stress, a big issue since one third of Americans have pets.
  • Time travel to recreate the 1940s jazz era in the historic Fillmore District where African Americans pioneered the West Coast sound. This is a big issue since tourism is San Francisco’s #1 industry, employing over 70,000. VR tourism and shopping will become major industries over time so it’s worth investigating.
  • Virtual fashion design fittings and fashion shows as a way to showcase international fashions, create local jobs, and generate taxes for homeless shelters and city services. The European and New York City fashion industries are already adopting 360 video for their fashion shows; VR fittings and shows are coming.
  • An earthquake simulator by an Iranian visiting scientist at UC Berkeley who lost his family in a Teheran quake and wants to stress-test buildings to prevent future disasters. For people living in earthquake-prone regions, this is a life-or-death issue far surpassing Hollywood disaster movies.
  • A virtual shopping mall that features virtually unlimited (pun intended) shops, entertainment arcades and venues that do not exist in real life. As with Amazon on the Internet, we will see an explosion of virtual shops in the near future.

The writing was a joy and reminded me of how we brainstorm new buildings, communities and venues in urban planning. Currently, my company is helping Copenhagen Malmo Port (cmp.com), Malmo, Visby, Lund and Stockholm use our VR solution to plan smart sustainable cities of the future — 2070 and beyond — to “future proof” cities under the Paris Accord. The scenes look right out of novels — William Gibson’s “Neuromancer” and Neil Stephenson’s “Snowcrash” — but for real. See: “How Can Cities Implement Climate Change Policies? A Nordic Vision ” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-can-cities-implement-climate-change-policies-nordic-tatsuno

I’m bringing our VR/AR+AI solution to Silicon Valley now so fiction will soon become VR, then mixed reality (MR) as we blend the city with VR.

 

For my articles on VR for Smart Sustainable Cities:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/statsuno/detail/recent-activity/posts/

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Sheridan Tatsuno is an urban planner, tech business strategist, and writer who is co-launching his 10th tech startup, One Reality AB (www.onereality.se), which provides VR/AR solutions to design smart sustainable cities as well as medical VR solutions — “Healthy Cities for Healthy People”.

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