It's an exciting time for reality! We've been technologically enhancing reality for a long time -- eye glasses, telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, photography, moving pictures, live streaming video over the Internet, etc. But whether it's augmented reality, virtual reality or somewhere in between, a new wave of eye wear technology is enhancing reality like never before. Meanwhile, reality is increasingly emitting digital signals to the Internet of Things (IoT). Together, these technologies will converge into Reality++, the latest form of enhanced reality.
Analytics is right in the middle, between reality's voices in the IoT and the new perceptual capabilities of both virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). As this future convergence continues to develop, business will get real value due to low latency, streaming analytics that can answering complex questions while events are still in motion -- exactly the problem that event stream processing (ESP) solves for customers today.
On the perception side of Reality++, you have parallel and co-mingled advances in VR and AR. Fully immersive VR for consumers is promised by Oculus, Sony and other vendors. You can even get a Google Cardboard kit for less than $30 to turn your smart phone in to a VR viewer.
Then, there is the emergence of AR -- check out the Microsoft HoloLens and the Espon Moverio. Waiting in the wings is the mysterious yet heavily funded Magic Leap. This is heads-up AR, but not the only form of AR. Yelp Monocle and other apps have been augmenting reality on smartphone screens for years.
For the business user, Reality++ can provide analytical value in at least three different ways:
- Augmented reality. Imagine you put on your AR glasses and look across a factory floor. You can have various real-time metrics floating above the equipment. Alternatively, you could look across a retail space and see an augmented view of consumer traffic patterns and inventory turnover. The physical space you are looking at is also on IoT via sensors and computer vision. Those streams of data from IoT are analyzed, condensed and feed back to your network enabled AR glasses to augment your reality analytically.
- Augmented virtual reality. Reality has never just been the physical reality right in front of you. There are many realities, and the physical world can be a hindrance in discovering the most important meanings. Instead of the physical layout of the factory floor defining the view, it may be more informative to see the layout of flows and signals between the equipment. For such cases, augmented virtual reality could better serve your needs -- especially when the connected equipment is spread across the globe, or the interesting objects exist only in n-dimensional cyberspace. It's simply virtual reality augmented with analytics. Take that factory equipment, represent the objects and their connections in virtual reality in any arrangement you want and then augment it with your data visualizations. You could change the arrangements as much as desired and the real-time data visualizations would follow the re-arrangements.
- Data reality. When you watch a high-definition movie or play an immersive video game, you are perceiving a high-throughput stream of digital data. Your event streams coming off of IoT sensors are making digital data as well. For those event streams that produce thousands and even millions of events per second, the techniques of Computer Generated Imagery and video games can be brought to bear. Whether the streams emerge in real-time from thousands of deployments of equipment, an enterprise network's routers and firewalls or a commodity market's trading, those high-throughput data streams must look like something! And the best, most actionable view isn't necessarily a summarized historical view of what the stream did yesterday or last week.
Visualizing big data streams in real-time is an intriguing puzzle. Luckily, one part of the puzzle is easy: event stream processing (ESP). ESP will be able to solve the real-time analytics at low enough latency to be effective in all of these use cases for Reality++, as well as all types of operational scenarios that customers need today.
The most fascinating piece of the Reality++ puzzle, though, is discovering the natural forms of these massive data streams and rendering them in Reality++. Then, users can impact their data-driven business like never before. Imagine you can make your big data streams look like anything, in actionable real-time. You can augment visualizations on top of physical reality, virtual reality or create a new data reality. If your big streaming data could look like anything, what would it be?
Image Credit for Hubble’s High-Definition Panoramic View of the Andromeda Galaxy: NASA, ESA, J. Dalcanton, B.F. Williams, and L.C. Johnson (U. of Washington), the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT) team, and R. Gendler