Here’s what I think is next:
Commodity head-mounted-displays built from desktop-fabbed parts and powered by burner handsets. Completely self-contained, portable, cheap and networked.
Standard input devices are the sensors embedded in the handsets, but of course these can be augmented with inexpensive Bluetooth keyboards, game controllers or any number of homebrew/DIY devices.
These headsets can communicate with each other via the Internet, but they can communicate directly as well, building local mesh networks that are functional and useful even without constant connectivity to the public Internet.
The underlying network protocol will be TCP/IP (preferring IPv6 over IPv4), but the application-layer protocol will be something new. The Protocol will be designed around conveying presence and position in 3-dimensional space in a way that is compatible not only with operating an avatar in a virtual world, but any other form of telepresence, including physical forms such as rovers, drones and anthropomorphic androids.
The software side of this is a self-hosting virtual operating system, built from a collection of existing tech or perhaps something new from scratch. Either way, the key feature of it is that everything inside of it is created from inside the virtual world; not some “Dev kit” or IDE that runs on a “normal” computer and requires people to be game programmers to create things for inside the virtual world.
Rendering is deliberately kept simple and low-fi to ensure an immersive experience, and de-emphasize the need for faster and more expensive hardware.
This virtual environment can also interface with existing Internet technology like the Web, by rendering these things literally (as they would appear on a screen) or in more abstract ways that are more appropriate for an immersive environment.
Everything described here can be build with existing technology, and with the proper implementation, it can be made inexpensive enough to be accessible to almost anybody. The critical path is development of The Protocol, and of the Authoring Tools that allow this virtual world to be build from the inside out, instead of from the outside in as it has been done in the past.
I’ll be revisiting several of my own projects from the past which are precursors to this vision. If you’re interested in participating in or supporting this work, get in touch.
// jjg ( aka @jasonbot2000 )