Learning by Doing: Why I Started a New Blog About AR and VR

A few weeks ago I bought a domain and a started a this here blog. Since then I’ve been posting a story per day, give or take, analyzing some of the goings on in the Augmented and Virtual Reality industries. Despite my best efforts at CSS and typography—or, perhaps, because of them!—the blog still needs some design help. But it’s live and I’m writing and you can bail on this thinkpiece and go read my thoughts about AR and VR right now.

If you’re still with me here, you probably want an answer to the “Why?” posited in the title of this post. The short version is simple: It’s time to look for what’s next, earning my living-wise.

My career path has long been a winding road snaking through territories broadly marked, “Technology,” “Writing,” and “Gadgets: Shiny and New!” with occassional forays into the lands of, “Education,” “Product Development,” and “Marketing.” Three months ago I decided to pull over to the side of the road to stretch my legs, survey the landscape, and decide where to point the jalopy next.

Everywhere I looked, I saw the same signposts and heard the same voices telling me to check out this place called, “VR.” The dad in my older son’s class who used to write sci-fi for a living? He’d ordered an HTC Vive development kit and was staying up late dusting off his Unity chops. The old college friend who occassionally hired me to do contract marketing work for his software shop in San Francisco? All in on VR. Even my father, who’s dedicated his own career as a clinical psychologist to studying the brain and helping people manage chronic pain? He’s been asking me about building a VR experience to help patients reach meditative states.

So after a few quick jags into writing a memoir (lol, no!) and doing a “ — — for — -” startup (redacted bc I might come back to that one), I landed on what I know best: Diving into the cutting edge of gadgetry and writing about it. Twenty years ago I started down a path that took me to many a MacWorld, CTIA, CES, and Google I/O. I wrote and made videos about the latest and greatest in mobile computing, from book-thick laptops to razor thin smartphones.

More recently I got out of the blogging game to try my hand at starting an ed tech company (learned a lot!) and working full-time for a few massive technology companies (also learned a lot!). I’ve found the most happiness consulting for tech companies, learning what they do and how they do it, and writing about it for audiences internal and external alike. But I’ve never lost the itch to stay abreast of the latest consumer tech and the accelerating pace at which it’s changing the world.

Which brings me back to VR and its more mainstream-friendly sibling, AR.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled, VR Today is Like Smartphones Before The iPhone. Sort of. The comparison isn’t perfect unless it comes true, but it’s as good as any other right now: We may be in the early stages of the next big thing when it comes to personal computing. I mean, the giant, heavy goggles that pass for today’s VR rigs are just like the clunky, tempramental Windows Phone devices that passed for mobile supercomputers pre-iPhone? Sort of.

AR and VR could go the way of the BlackBerry (d’oh) in a few years’ time, but for now the sky’s the limit. So I’m diving in and learning all I can about the Reality Business the best way I know how: By blogging about it. For now I’m looking at things largely from a high level business perspective:

  • Who are the big hardware and software makers, how are they funded, and what’s their timeline for — and definition of — success?
  • Who are the buyers and users of this new stuff? Consumers? Marketers? Business customers? Nobody?
  • What’s the long view look like, in terms of technology, content, and adoption?
  • And, ultimately, will AR and/or VR become to our future lives what smartphones are to us today? If so, what might that look like? If not, why not?

Big, broad questions that are both hard to answer and the source of endless blog posts? Combined with obsessively combing Twitter and Googling for obscure English-language blogs covering the Asian tech scene? Sign me up!

Writing Extra Real could be the road to my next consulting gig. It could be my next gig, period. Or it could be little more than a very public way to get myself up to speed on the new, new thing while subtly reshaping my personal brand. Whatever it turns out to be, you can follow along on RSSMediumLinkedIn, and/or Twitter.

It’s at least worth sticking around long enough to see what this ARKit noise is all about, right? Maybe I’ll even do a 360 video unboxing of the iPhone 8…

Hello World! Dispatches From the Reality Business

Welcome to Extra Real. Put on your goggles and tell the neighbors: We’re taking a journey into the future of reality.

I’m your host, Noah Kravitz. After close to a decade covering the rise of the smartphone in the mid 2000’s, I crossed the content fence from where bloggers and journalists hang out to the land of marketers and comms people. I spent some time on staff at Nokia/Microsoft and Salesforce, and a lot of time consulting for Intel, NVIDIA, Samsung, and some really cool companies you’ve probably never heard of because they’re small, business-to-business shops.

That adds up to around 15 years of work in B2B and B2C tech, staying close to everything from the algorithms behind AI to countless attempts to dethrone the iPhone. I also got a crash course in marketing and selling enterprise software to tiny nonprofits and the Coca-Colas and Western Unions of the world, alike. All of this on the heels of my “first career” as a teacher and educational technologist, way back in the ’90s.

A few months ago I decided to wind down my main consulting gigs to take a breath and figure out what’s next. It took all of a few weeks to realize what my professional circles had been telling me for months: Augmented and Virtual Reality is next. From game developers to corporate marketers to Ph.D researchers, people see the potential in immersive digital experiences across virtually every realm of human life.

Money – big money – is already being thrown at AR and VR. From consumer plays like Oculus, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR to B2B solutions for research and training, the space is heating up. But it’s still early days; very early days.

I’m lucky to have already had some behind-the-curtain looks at what tech giants and boutique development shops are doing with the technology. And I’ve seen for myself – and through the eyes of my two young kids – the allure of strapping on a headset and diving into a new reality. So it only made sense to me to throw up a blog and report on what I find out there.

Extra Real will cover Augmented and Virtual Reality from a business perspective. I’ll get into announcements and reviews of individual consumer products, for sure. But this won’t be a throwback to my days unboxing every new cell phone on YouTube. Most of the posts on here will be of the big picture, summary and analysis variety. Info and insight you can consume quickly and digest throughout your day as you figure out when and how AR and VR fits into your own business.

At least, that’s the plan right now. Always gotta skate to where you think the puck is going, right?

I gave myself some leeway since this is my introductory post, but already the word count is getting long. Thanks for stopping by. Now sign up for the newsletter and tell a colleague.

Okay then, on to new realities!