Six questions about VR/XR — Michael Gourlay

By Doede Holtkamp on October 19, 2017

Michael works at Microsoft as a Principal Development Lead in the Environment Understanding group of Analog R&D on augmented reality and virtual reality platforms such as HoloLens and Windows Holographic.

1. What are the most inspiring aspects of your work in XR?
Enabling people to do more.

2. What is the most promising, exciting development now happening?
Democratizing AR and VR by making the devices more affordable and making the technology easier to use.

3. What is the blind spot in XR, something that people seem to overlook?The transition between real and virtual is too abrupt and alienating. It needs to be seamless in both directions.

4. What areas in XR have the biggest growth potential and why?
Capturing, conveying and machine-learning from rich social cues like facial expression and body language. In telepresence scenarios, other humans crave that information and its absence leads to otherwise avoidable misunderstandings. Human-facing sensors coupled with machine learning algorithms and cloud computation will permit computers to understand us better, which in turn lets us understand each other better, and gives computers the ability to anticipate our needs better.

5. Where will XR be in five to ten years from now?
In 5 years, XR will just barely start to become more common. In 10 years, the obvious barriers (like setup, cost and the lack of compelling content) will be gone, and people will start to pour in. In 20 years, discrete desktop screens will be a quaint throwback.

6. Anything else you would like to share with us?
At some point in my lifetime, somebody will struggle with their local government to get permission to marry their computer.

Michael Gourlay’s presentation at VR Days Europe
World-scale VR — Augmenting virtuality with reality

Excerpt presentation
Untethered augmented reality devices permit world-scale roaming, which makes sense when you mostly see the real world. The tethering of virtual reality devices did not overly hinder range of motion since users could not see the real world so needed a cleared space. But with inside-out tracking, world-scale VR is here. We can safely prevent users from colliding with the real world, but what scenarios arise from the possibility of unbounded roaming?

Bio Michael Gourlay
Dr. Michael J. Gourlay works at Microsoft as a Principal Development Lead in the Environment Understanding group of Analog R&D, on augmented reality and virtual reality platforms such as HoloLens and Windows Holographic. He led the teams that created inside-out tracking, surface reconstruction (a.k.a. “Spatial Mapping”) and computer vision-based calibration of environment sensors.

He previously worked at Electronic Arts (EA Sports) as the Software Architect for the Football Sports Business Unit, as a senior lead engineer on Madden NFL, on character physics and the procedural animation system used by EA, on Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and as a lead programmer on NASCAR. He wrote the visual effects system used in EA games worldwide and patented algorithms for interactive, high-bandwidth online applications. He also architected FranTk, the game engine behind Connected Career and Connected Franchise.

He also developed curricula for and taught at the University of Central Florida (UCF) Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA), an interdisciplinary graduate program that teaches programmers, producers and artists how to make video games and training simulations.

He is also a Subject Matter Expert for Studio B Productions, and writes articles for Intel on parallelized computational fluid dynamics simulations for video games.

Prior to joining EA, he performed scientific research using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and the world’s largest massively parallel supercomputers. His previous research also includes nonlinear dynamics in quantum mechanical systems, and atomic, molecular and optical physics, stealth, RADAR and massively parallel supercomputer design. He also developed pedagogic orbital mechanics software.

Michael received his degrees in physics and philosophy from Georgia Tech and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Michael will speak at the VR Days Europe —Check out the program and don’t miss out on the tickets!


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