Six questions about VR/XR — Michael Gourlay

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?
AR and VR empower people to achieve more than they could without the help of these technologies. This is an opportunity for computers to help us be more human.

2. What is the most promising, exciting development now happening?
Augmented reality platform technologies synergize with machine learning to enable more personal computing and artificial intelligence.

3. What is the blind spot in XR, something that people seem to overlook?
XR platforms must understand the user’s complete context including the physical environment, schedule constraints, interpersonal interactions and emotional motives. The chaperone/guardian crutch is an awful proxy for that.

4. What areas in XR have the biggest growth potential and why?
The biggest opportunity from wearables will come from combining input from sensor arrays, cloud compute and machine learning algorithms to understand humans better.

5. Where will XR be in five to ten years from now?
In 5 years, incremental progress — better displays, more robust and automatic setup. In 10 years, VR and AR will begin to merge into the first proto-XR devices. In 20 years, the VR/AR distinction will be gone, those platforms will be more compact and universal, and we’ll forget what it was like not to have XR available all the time.

6. Anything else you would like to share with us?
Also remember to ask, how can humans empower machines to achieve more.

Michael Gourlay’s presentation at VR Days Europe
Surprising Ways Mixed Reality Will Empower Us to Achieve More (…and ways we will empower machines)

Excerpt presentation
Mixed reality platforms enable people to interact with computers, the environment and each other, in more, better and surprising ways.

Obviously mixed reality (MR) platforms let people see and hear virtual things in the real world, but surprisingly MR could also accelerate machine learning and make computers more personal.

Augmented reality platforms include additional and exotic sensors that gather an immense amount of information about users’ environments. Those platforms process that data to understand what users do and how they do it.

An exciting challenge and big benefit will be for machines to understand WHY users act, anticipate their needs and help them achieve more. Mixed reality platforms will give people new ways to interact with computers, the environment and each other.

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!