3. – Jargon Watch: Occlusion*
Occlusion is essentially the ability to hide virtual objects behind real things, and vice-versa. It boils down to making the interaction between our bits and our bytes more realistic, so that your atoms obey the same rules as your pixels.
And it's all the rage at the moment, as all the major players in the industry such as Microsoft and Magic Leap are pouring resources in perfecting that feature. Most notably Apple, which wowed many commentators around WWDC with the new occlusion capabilities of its ARKit.
The more realistic interplay between physical and digital world that occlusion enables is one of the reasons why people got excited by Minecraft Earth, and the fact that Apple provided that functionality in a more developer-friendly package was also probably a big factor in Microsoft's decision to stage their first Minecraft Earth demo at WWDC.
But cracking occlusion is not easy. In this deep-dive post for Hackernoon, Neil Matthew explains all the complexities that make this one of the most elusive pieces in the complicated jigsaw of building compelling immersive experiences:
According to Matthew, creating realistic occlusion in AR means selectively preventing parts of the virtual scene from rendering based on a constantly shifting knowledge of the real world, which involves 3 main functions.
- Sensing the 3D structure of the real world.
- Reconstructing a digital 3D model of the world.
- Rendering that model as a transparent mask that hides virtual objects.
How well the industry manages to square that circle and make all these complex processes constantly running in the background look - and feel - seamless, will determine how realistic, enjoyable, and immersive our experiences are.
*Not to be confused with collusion – please subscribe to Inside Trump for your fix of that!